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Turpan, the Xinjiang Legend
2005-10-27 09:33:06
Meaning "a land of abundance" in the Uygur language, Turpan is a Xinjiang legend from every perspective.

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To most Chinese, Turpan means great grapes and sweet raisins.  Specifically, many Chinese people can hum the tunes of "The Grapes in Turpan have ripened"  and  "Alamuhan",  two masterpieces from the legendary musician Wang Luobin and both related to Turban. Indeed, Wang Luobin spent a great deal of time in this oasis.  Meaning "a land of abundance" in the Uygur language, Turpan is a Xinjiang legend from every perspective. This city can also be found in conditions of extreme altitude and extreme dryness, but, as they say in Xinjiang, the more sterile the land appears, the more resources you can find underground.

Travel Express Vol.69: Turpan - Green Pearl City 

It's often said that when hanging clothes out during the summer in Turban, it'll have dried before you're finished. Enjoying numerous consecutive days over 40 degrees Celsius, the dry heat of Turpan's summer days infuses the city with a languid torpor relegating daytime activities to consist of mainly of drinking tea and sleeping.

Such is oasis life.  The annual precipitation is only 16 mm - close to none; but you've got a rich oasis here. The secret lies in Karez well.

Karez well was listed as one of the three greatest irrigation systems in ancient China together with Jinghang manmade cannel, and Dujiangyan Irrigation System. And guess what Karez means in Uygur language? Underground.

The water from snow on Tianshan Mountain, and also underground water. The reason Karez well was built underground is to keep water from evaporation.

For most Turpan people, Karez wells still play the role of lifeline given the special weather condition. A Karez well normally consists of silo, underground and above ground canals, and water-storage dam.

There are altogether over 1000 Karez wells in Turpan basin, the total length of which would exceed that of Yangtze River, the longest river in China. The earliest construction dates back at least 1000 years ago. Karez wells are only to be found in Turpan area in Xinjiang.

Turpan is one of the hottest places in Xinjiang, but many people come here in summer to get away from the heat. Why?  Because they can hide under the shade of grape trellises. In grape valley alone, the grape trellises can stretch for miles long, so it's not exaggerating to say that Turpan is really a kingdom of grapes!

The Grape Valley on the northeast outskirt of the Turpan city offers a refreshing change. About Eight kilometers long and one kilometer wide, the valley is literally covered with grape trellises like you've never seen before. The best time to visit is in summer when grapes mature.  It's the time of the year even the air smells sweet and green. 

People say Mr. Wang Luobin got his inspiration of this song right here in the Grape Valley!  This is really a heaven for people like me who've got a sweet tooth. There're so many different kinds, we don't know which one to pick! The variety of raisins you can find here is overwhelming if not absurd. Growing grapes has almost become the lifestyle of people in Grape Valley.

The grape valley park is very beautiful out there; but I like ordinary people's home better. And Uygur people they are very hospitable, it's very easy to get yourself invited in their house and get to know their lifestyle.

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Related Stories:
CRI Reporter Zhang Xiaoyu's Turpan Trip
Ili, the Most Beautiful Place in Xinjiang
Absolute Xinjiang
Xinjiang Photo Gallery

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