Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Day 2 – Urumqi Regional Museum and Tianzi (Heavenly Lake)

After our interesting encounter with the cops, who basically told us we are no longer allowed to take pictures in Urumqi, we were quite happy to leave and head to Tianzi, but first, our guide recommended that we go to the museum.

Originally this was not on the agenda but Mohemmed, strongly recommended that we visit it. At this point Mark and I were pretty much done with museums, as we have been over exposed to porcelain from the Ming and Qing dynasties, Bronze pots, and ceramics, but this was different. Mohemmed explained that this museum had mummies. Now that caught our attention.

We arrived at the museum, and though large we only did a couple of the exhibits. Even Mohemmed thought it would be too much. The first part of our tour was the history of the minority groups that live in Xinjiang province. The best part was the exhibit that held the mummies. The guide from the museum explained where they found the cemeteries and others are being excavated as we type. The first mummy was a young women around the age of 40 who was buried 4000 years ago, though that is currently disputed by others stating this could go back 6000 years. The second mummy was a women who was about 65 and was thought to be of some influence due to her clothing. We managed to see a mummy who was thought to be a general, and the last mummy was a women who was an older gal, and was buried in a reclining position, knees bent and head propped up. According to the guide this was the position of choice to save space in the family burial plots. Due to the dessert conditions, these bodies became mummified. The found a cemetery in the Taklamakan desert that had over 1000 bodies, and assumed there are more bodies to be discovered.

After the visit we made our way to Tianzi, Heavenly lake which is located about 90 minutes from Urumqi. Now we can take pictures. We had a beautiful day, which was a nice and cool around 64F. We were thrilled. After a long summer of temperatures above 100F this was a welcome reprieve. We rode the cable car up to the area where the restaurants and souvenir shops were located, and grabbed some lunch.We ordered some food, and the manager kept telling us we needed more, and we kept telling her we had enough. Her response, “you have to, it’s a local specialty here in Urumqi” so we conceded. Well sure enough we had way too much food, though tasty we couldn’t eat it all, and we asked for a doggie bag.

Then it was off to see the Heavenly Lake. We walked about 15 minutes and were greeted with a stunning view of the lake surrounded by these majestic mountains. The sun was shining and although Mohemmed lamented about how slow tourism was here in the province due to the protesters/riots, Mark and I were secretly glad that the hourdes of tourists we were expecting weren’t around to obscure our photos. We managed to take pictures before we hiked around the lake. The lake itself is not big only about 1.9 square miles.

Not only was it picturesque, it was peaceful and the air was clean. We could understand why it’s called Heavenly Mountain and Lake.
After untold number of photos we slowly made our way back to the car, and headed for the airport.

The airport itself became somewhat interesting, due to the issues up in this area. You see many police and everyone is searching everything, so it takes a little bit to get through security. That wasn’t the interesting part. Mark and I arrived early, so we figured we would have time to start writing the day's blog and have a beer. We go to the only restaurant past security, and no beer. No beer? What’s up with that? So we try the little shops still no beer. Next option was water. Went to the store, and asked, and they don’t have it either, okay, so back to the only restaurant, and they too have no water. I asked them what's the deal, and the entire airport past security has no water, no beer, no coke, and no sprite. They did however have coffee or tea that they could make for you.

Yea, the only thing that we could say, is TIC…This is China

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