Having fun in Urumqi

After receiving most of the packages from Taiwan, I was almost ready to go, 

except—I still needed to wait for my sun glasses, which were shipped out today. 

However, DHL does not do business in Urumqi; everything has to be rerouted at Xian, troublesome and time consuming. 

Unfortunately, the best way to avoid being blind under prolonged exposure to the sun is to wear proper sun glasses. 

So I could only wait, wait for another week or so, meaning “It is time to play”.


I finished two packs of chocolate milk that I bought from downstairs, and was ready to go to the “International Grand Bazaar”, 

which is also an important attraction for pocket pickers.

I was told that I should carry my bags in the “front” when I go there. 

So I packed light: camera—always on my hand, no more than 50 RMB, pen, notebook. 

Let’s go!


It is about 2 km from this hotel to the “International Grand Bazaar (Bazaar means market in Uyghur)”, 

pretty good distance for a nice walk. So I left Dido here.

Other than protecting the environment, I chose to travel by bike is to reduce expense—for both tickets and gas. 

The money I saved from these allows me to spend more time on the road.

In addition, riding bike is slower than driving in a car. So I get to take time to embrace the nature when I am in the wild. 

While in the city area, I can take time to understand their culture and history—of course not as good as visiting the city on foot.

Compared to my clothes, which was cheap and casual, 

those fashionably-dressed Urumqi ladies can totally blind your eyes even just by looking at their backs.

Due to their ethnicity, many girls here are so beautiful, and you are lucky if you get a chance to see their face. 

Because often these pretty faces were covered by veils.

You’d better be careful if you want to take pictures here, some people don’t like to have their photos taken, 

and they will yell at you if you do. So whenever you raise your camera, 

you should ask for permission—by your body language if you can’t speak the language before you click.

The International Bazaar is the gathering place for goods-trading around this area. 

The streets are filled with stands/stores that sell wild varieties of goods, with the language that I couldn’t understand a word about.

The people on the streets are from different places, they have their unique facial features, 

and their dresses reflect their own cultural background.

Together they present an exotic atmosphere, to me. 

My suggestion to you for this place is, “single bills”. Most food or drink on this street costs 1 RMB or less, 

unless you are planning to enter the stores to buy other stuff.

The stands on the street mostly sell cloth or clothes. 

Even the kids are good at promoting their stuff to potential customers and bargaining the price if the customers are interested.

Although I didn’t understand a word they were saying, 

I was deeply fascinated by their tone and the body-language while doing business.

Looking at what I wore now, I almost bought some clothes for myself. 

Those clothes were roughly 20 RMB each, which was really cheap, but they will definitely take a lot of space in my packs, 

so I eventually gave up on that thought.

Some sellers didn’t use any hangers to display their clothes, they just use their ARMS. 

Because the length of their arms is so limited, the amount of clothes they can sell at once is also limited. 

These sellers are a very interesting part of this street.

Moving down to the south of the street, 

I was so overwhelmed with all the stuff people sell, AND the people themselves, on both sides. 

There was a guy walking with a snake wrapped on his neck, which was a “detour” sign for me. 

A guy with a big plate on his head dragged my attention immediately. 

I approached him and checked the stuff on the plate, hmmm, sweet fried bread.

It was warm, just freshly made, with lots of sugar sprinkled on it. 

This bread tasted like the type of donuts that I have on the street in Taiwan, very yummy.

You don’t even have to ask the price, just give them a one-dollar bill, 

which is either the right amount, or sometimes you get 50 cents back.


After finishing the bread, of course I needed to look for something to drink. 

This stand had an interesting way to attract customers, the “fountain juice”.

And this trick worked for me. Almost like being hypnotized, I paid 1 RMB for this over-diluted orange juice. 

Other than this “yellow” orange juice, he also sold a “white” drink which probably was some over-diluted milk drink. 

Since it was really cheap, you shouldn’t expect much anyway.


These stores covered with some red cloth only sell “cloth”, which is not my thing. 

So I continued another hundreds of meters, entered the “Erdaogiao Market”

(Erdaogiao is the phonetic translation, meaning the second bridge), or they called “Erdaogiao Bazaar” here.

Inside this “bazaar” are stores selling souvenirs, vegetable caterpillar

(one type of Chinese herbs, Chinese called it “winter worm, summer grass”), 

Tienshan saussurea (Tienshan snow lotus), and some brand-named clothes.

I didn’t even walk into that building because nothing interests me in that place. 

Keep moving south, I finally arrived at the famous “International Grand Bazaar”, and the tall tower is its landmark.

Every store here is very tiny, and most of them sell similar stuff: necklaces, jewelries, silverwares, knives, instruments and so on. 

You can window-shop as much as you want, but if you are seriously interested in buying them, 

you’d better compare price from multiple stores and bargain for a reasonable price.

For example I asked about the price of a pink jewelry box at a store, the lady inside the store said 85 RMB, 

and I gave a smile of “too expensive” and put it back. 

A couple of minutes later, the guy from outside of the very same store asked if I was interested in anything and he would give me a great price to exchange for a friendship. I pointed at the same thing and he replied me in Chinese without hesitation, “120RMB. The lowest price, just for you”.


I was only “smile” earlier, but now I had to laugh out loud. Give me a break, please. Can’t you guys communicate first?

Of course I didn’t say it, but I couldn’t stop laughing. I pointed at the lady and said “that lady is more like my FRIEND”. 

Then, they two started to “communicate” with their own language, and I bet I knew what they were communicating about.


At the bottom of the big round tower is sculptures showing the different ethnicities around this area.

Local foods sold here are also different from what I had before, such as this “little hill” ice cream. 

Instead of edible sugar cone, this ice cream is put inside this paper cone. 

The milk flavor ice cream is so delicious, even better than Haagen-Dazs ice cream. 

However, there was a catch, a serious catch, the diarrhea. 

I had have food all over China for the past 50 days or so,even the noodle with flies in it can’t hurt my digestive system, 

and here I was, running in to the bathroom because of this ice cream. 

Luckily I have the habit of carrying tissues with me whenever I am out traveling. 

Rushed into a restroom, paying my 30 cents RMB without any hesitation, I just really needed to go.

This “fruit” looks very dry at the outside, and the red meat inside didn’t look yummy, either. 

I wondered what this juice tastes like. 


I walked around the Grant Bazaar and pretended that I couldn’t speak Chinese. 

I was practicing my communication skill without actually saying the language. This could be really useful skill once I left China.

I had some grabbed rice for lunch in some alley. 

I was going to take some photos for that, but the owner of the stand seemed to get very angry when I raised my camera. 

However, as soon as I ordered my lunch, he became much friendlier. 

The rice was light yellow-colored, al dente. Mixed with red, yellow, green veggies that made the dish so colorful, 

plus a big chunk of lamb, no wonder it is so delectable.

I found the only words I used to describe the food was “delicious”, or “super delicious” 

(Note: we translators, however, used delicious, yummy, tasty, delectable and so on ^_^), 

which couldn’t really let you feel about the food at all, and I am deeply sorry for this. 

If you guys have time, please visit any authentic Islamic restaurant to try their delights. 

To me, Islamic food is so much better than our regular food.

After lunch, I turned to the tiny “pyramid” to check what the beautiful building behind it was. 

No, not a museum, it was a movie theater.

There are full of milk tea shops around that theater. What unique about these milk teas is, in addition to cow milk, 

you can order horse milk, camel milk, Xinjiang flavor milk tea, and Kazakh flavor milk tea.

The customers can sit under the tree to enjoy the breeze. I ordered a milk tea, which came in a super size cup. 

It was very hot, not sweet at all. Very “milky” taste, but didn’t taste like milk. 

With some unknown jelly-like stuff inside, and a bit salty, it was very hard to say if it is good or not.

The other side of the theatre was stores selling CDs, DVDs, etc. Copy right? I don’t think I should get into this topic, right?


I went back to the hotel to rest a bit, and then I was going to visit “Hong Shan Parks (Hong Shan means Red Mountain in Chinese)” later.

The sun at noon was too much for me, so I didn’t go out until around 5 o’clock. 

Oh, I paid and asked to stay for 4 more nights. 

I hoped there would be no other people to share this room with me for the rest of the time I stayed here. 


It was also about 2 km distance to Hong Shan parks, but headed North. 

Because the streets here are checkerboard-patterned, it should be very hard to get lost, as long as I knew which way I was going.

Since I needed to stay here for a few more days, I knew that I have to visit places such as Tianchi Lake, 

Nanshan Meadow, and I was guessing I would need to get more cash form the bank. 

I tried my ATM card but with no luck—no international cash advance available. 

The worst thing was, I couldn’t find my ATM card after I came back to the hotel later on tonight, 

which made my life even more "interesting" at this moment. I had to think how to get my replacement card later.


Well, forget about the lost card now. The trip to Hong Shan Parks was great. 

It sounds like a regular park, but it has 4-star rating in China.

The best is, it is FREE, unless you want to go into some temples that did not many visitors will cost you 5 to 10 RMB.

There are two entrances to Hong Shan Parks, North and South. 

I entered at the North Entrance, climbing up to the mountain which was two hundred meters higher than the city.

There are many fun activities to do, games such as shooting balloons, fishing games for kids, haunted house, boating and so on.

This is Hong Shan falls, pretty small and thin. So many kids were playing here, and I knew they also pee here, just a matter of time.

If you are not big in games, you can enjoy the foods at least. 

Many people picnicked here, or even camped here. 

With just a piece of blanket on the grass, the whole family can have a great time in the park.


This is a stall for peanuts cake. Two people hammered the cake so flat, and then folded it many times into a small cubic shape. 

So you can taste the crunchy multi-layer texture.

I couldn’t help myself but buying some to eat. It is not too sweet, and it didn’t stick to my teeth. 

It was very soft when eating it hot, but they told me that it would taste really crunchy if I let it sit for a while to cool down.

Couple of temples here, I didn’t get in any of them. 

Let me just take a photo here to proof that I was here. This kid was accidentally in my photo. 

He was wearing the traditional “children pants” for Chinese, the opening at the back made it very easy t go to the bathroom, 

which made mom’s life much easier at the same time. Oh, I did share my peanuts cake with that kid.

Beijing will be holding the Olympics in 2008, so the Olympic spirit is the theme of the moment. 

The logos and history of every Olympic were hanging around this park, fitted with the lanterns and the green trees very well.


I like to take group photos, which feels like some backstage report.

Look at these girls, they are all very pretty. The background is the lanterns, again, Olympic theme.

Urumqi is only around 700 meters above sea level, so if you stand here at this Hong Shan Park, 

which is 200 meters higher, is enough to see the entire city.

Hong Shan Parks, in Chinese means Red Mountain Parks, so “red mountain” is what you see here. 

People started to build temples on this mountain to let others come up to enjoy the city from high above. 

I was told that thousands of years ago people came here had to get down the horses and bow to pay their respect.

Many different kinds of locks hanging on these fences, 

really made me wonder they were for “live happily ever after” or “may you get what you wish for”?

Ha… here was the kid in my photo again; I took photo of him and his grandparents. 

I am sorry that I could not mail you this photo, but if you ever get a chance: Here is your photo.

This is the sculpture of Zexu Lin, who was most recognized for his effort of against opium smuggling from British during Qing Dynasty. 

Right next to him is an anti-opium (or anti-drug) Ding (Note: Ding is ancient Chinese vessel with three legs).

A slogan at Hong Shan Parks is “You can’t imagie how beautiful Xiyu

(Note: the Western regions of ancient China, usually the area beyond Jade Gate)

is unless you have been to Xinjiang. Just like you can’t imagine how amazing Urumqi is unless you have climbed up to Hong Shan”.

Therefore, it is fair to say, if Urumqi is the pride of Xinjiang, then Hong Shan Parks is the pride of Urumqi.

The top of Hong Shan gives a bird’s eye view of the whole Urumqi city. 

These buildings were nicely designed and built to add the style to this city. 

Everybody comes to this park will definitely climb to the top, 

but even with people everywhere, the maintenance is quite impressive.

Like I mentioned earlier, this part is free of charge, but you don’t see any garbage anywhere. Isn’t it amazing?

After 6 in the evening, the sprinkler system automatically started to water the grass, 

also partly on my leg, which gave me some coolness.

Entered from North Entrance, climbed to the top of Hong Shan, I exited this park at the South Entrance. 

When I saw this park with a different angle, “definitely a national tourist site”, I had to agree.

From North Entrance to Hong Shan is mostly hilly road; from Hong Shan to South Entrance is mostly stairs. 

I saw many students here practicing “hopping on the stairs” with only one leg, so I was waiting to see if anybody fell. 

And the answer was, “None”, very disappointed, I must say.

There is a “haunted house” at the South side; most theme parks in Taiwan also have the similar stuff. 

Well, it was not free, and I didn’t want to have nightmare, so… forget about it then! 

I chose a different route walking back to the hotel after left the park. 

And I chose a road that was under heavy construction. 

Stores on this street didn’t have many customers, and you could see them post “Under Construction Sale” signs around the store. 

Back to my hotel, I bought some Chinese style friend nuggets (still didn’t know WHAT nuggets those were), 

some veggie, beans, cauliflowers, golden needle mushrooms and eggplants. 

Bought an ice cold coke, I was having my dinner already.

However, just when I was happily recapping today’s tour in my brain, 

I thought about my lost ATM card when I put my hand into my pocket. 

Well, I probably won’t be able to have any coke or other drink except free water, before I solved my “financial” problem.

So I sipped my coke very slowly, I knew I will miss the taste of this coke for sure.

English version of trip log is translated by H2、MD、Liz、mouse、John、Robin、Eric、Moe、virginia, many thanks to them.