Thursday, July 06, 2006


Turpan is one of the most famous cities in XinJiang. It's the heart of XinJiang's wine region, and incredibly hot in the summer. I went there for a day or two and happened in on the annual grape festival. I skipped the festivities, however, to go out to see some countryside. First I went out to Su Gong Ta, an old mosque made of bricks and mud and straw, with an arresting tower design.
Afterwards I decided to walk back to town, a long way which took me through vineyards and farmhouses and past donkey carts and Uighur locals who invariably told me to come play my mini-guitar for them. Asked me? No, told me. I let the kids play too. Everybody loves a guitar. One of the villagers, Mohammed, asked me to come home for tea, so I did. Mohammed is a grape farmer and his home had a traditional Uighur-style courtyard, overhung completely with grape vines heavy with fruit. We ate local watermelon and nan bread and drank tea and let me tell you, it was the hang-out joint of the century. He and his daughter both spoke a passable Chinese, but the others were Uighur-only. It was great, because I got hours straight of Uighur practice. We also did some religious study, since I had an English Qur'an with me, and he had done the Hajj twice! I was impressed. That's a huge expense, and he wasn't a high roller. At Mohammed's invitation I stayed over that night, since there were no late busses back to Urumqi. He set up a bed for himself and me out in the vineyard (it's cooler) but when the fireworks from the grape festival in town began, the whole family went up to the roof to watch them, and I ended up sleeping up there with two family friends from out west. The next morning I woke to sunrise over the vineyards, I almost peed my pants it was so beautiful, the end.

1 comment:

PINKSandROSES said...

why do you get to do such cool things?