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Urumqi, the Capital of Xinjiang-II
    2008-03-27 17:47:25     CRIENGLISH.com

2008-03-27

--Intro:
Yesterday, we introduced historical relics in Urmuqi, the capital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in northwest China, and today we will go on with our travel there.

--Spotlights:


Red Hill [photo source: travel666.com]

1. Red Hill 
Red Hill is a symbol of Urumqi, owing to its uniqueness. The body of the mountain, made up of aubergine rocks, has a reddish brown color, which gave it the name Red Hill.

Less than one kilometer away, Yamalike Hill stands facing the Red Hill, and Urumqi river lies between the two hills.

There is a legend that says in ancient times a red dragon fled from the Tianchi Lake or the Heavenly Lake and the Empress of the Heaven caught him and sliced him in two with her sword. Later on, a hill was formed from each half of the dragon. The western hill is Yamalike Hill and the eastern one is the Red Hill. The sword turned into the Urumqi River.

Oddly enough, topographic pictures tell us the two hills were once united and was separated into two parts due to stratum rupture.

In 1785 and 1786, floods hit Urumqi causing much destruction. Rumors arose that the Red Hill and Yamalike Hill were growing closer and closer together. Once they met, the Urumqi River between the two hills would be blocked and the city would become flooded as the water rose.

Therefore, in 1788 the highest military officer ordered to Zhen Long, or to subdue the dragon in Chinese. Pagodas were built on both hills. These two pagodas were made of gray bricks, with six sides, nine floors, and octagonal roofs.

Today, the Red Hill has been developed into the beautiful Red Hill Park. Modern entertainment facilities and ethnic performances bring a fresh and lively atmosphere to the park. On the peak of Red Hill, you can have the whole city of Urumqi before your eyes!


Tianchi Lake [photo source: cn2007.net]

2. Tianchi Lake 
In the middle of Bogda Peak, 110 km southeast of Urumqi, nestles the Tianchi Lake, which means the Heavenly Lake in Chinese. (Actually in northeast China, there is also a Heavenly Lake in Changbaishan which shares the same name as an alpine lake. )

Covering about 5 square kilometers, this crescent-shaped lake deserves its name, Pearl of Tianshan Mountain, or the Heavenly Mountain. With melted snow as its water source, Tianchi Lake holds crystal water that reflects the surrounding mountains.

In summer times, the beautiful lake is an ideal cooling resort. Boaters on the lake can see the snowcaped mountains soaring into the blue sky, their slopes highlighted with verdant pasture and bright wild flowers. And in the winter times, it provides an ideal alpine skating resort.


Salt Lake [photo source: 5u6u.com]

3. Chaiwopu Lake and Salt Lake
Beside the highway between Urumqi and Turpan, Chaiwopu Lake is located about 40 km southeast from Urumqi.

It is the largest freshwater lake in the outskirt of Urumqi, covering an area of 28 square kilometers. Various kinds of fish live in the lake.

Only 5 km away from the lake in the southeast, there's a Salt Lake. Every liter of the water contains 300g of salt, and miles of road around the lake are covered by white salt. You can even smell the salt in the air.

Strangely, the Chaiwopu Lake and the Salt Lake are connected at the bottom, but the waters of the lakes differ from each other so much.

--Entertainment:
Urumqi is quite a modern city with many parks in and around the city. You can pick some of them to visit, such as the Shuimogou Park in the northeast outskirt, the People's Park in the west bank of Urumqi River, as well as the zoo and the Water Amusement Park in the south of the urban area.

--Tips
1. Best time to visit: May to Oct. Enjoy the sweet and delicious melons and fruits during this time.
2. Because of the great temperature difference between day and night there, do bring some warm clothing with you even in the hottest month.
3. Don't talk about pigs or pork in public, especially in Muslim restaurants, as many of the local people are Muslims.

--Accommodations:
You do not have to worry about where to live when you are traveling in Urumqi as there are lots of hotels in the city for different prices, including small private inns and five star big hotels.

--Transportation:
There's an international airport in the city and you can fly from Beijing to Urumqi directly at the price of 2,400 yuan, or about 330 US dollars. And you can also go there by train, which takes you more time, about two days, but less money, about one fourth the price of the plane ticket.

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