Turpan

Source: CRI [16:12 July 14 2009]

The Grape Valley is a good place to enjoy the grapes of hundreds of varieties.

The city, which is also known as Huo Zhou (a place as hot as fire), is the hottest place in China. The abundant sunshine gives the melons and grapes ideal conditions to grow. The fruit here is widely known for its high sugar content, especially the grapes.

Turpan is praised as the 'Hometown of Grapes' and the Grape Valley is a good place to enjoy the grapes of hundreds of varieties. Apart from that, the locals are quite fond of sand therapy which has a history of hundreds of years in Turpan. People lie or sit under sheds, burying their bodies in hot sand about 50C (122F) to 60C (140F). It is said to be a good way to treat rheumatism and skin ailments. There is a Sand Therapy Center in the northwest of the city which is popular among visitors.

Turpan is a marvelous city blending Western and Eastern religions and culture together perfectly. The geographical position of Turpan is rather important. Lying at the junction of the east and the west of China, it has been a key point on the Silk Road since ancient times, with a great number of historical relics as well as unique landscapes.

Flaming Mountain, which is mentioned in a classical Chinese novel The Journey to the West is the hottest place in China; Emin Minaret is the largest ancient Islamic tower in Xinjiang; and Jiaohe Ancient City and Gaochang Ancient City are witnesses to the long history of Turpan. Aydingkol Lake, at the bottom of Turpan Basin, is the lowest point in the country, and Astana-Karakhoja Ancient Tombs, Bizalkik Thousand Buddha Caves, Tuyu Valley are also popular attractions. Karez System is one of the four great irrigation system of China and it is a crystallization of ancient people's wisdom and the life source in Turpan.

As a city inhabited by minority groups, you can find Uygur snacks in the streets and lanes. Kebabs, Zhua Fan (Rice Eaten with Hands), Nang, Roast Lamb will make your mouth water. There are also many traditional drinks in Turpan, including milk tea, black tea, grape wine and mare's milk. The traditional handcrafts are exquisite and are worth collecting. Carpets, clothes, caps and knives are favorites, with distinctive folk characteristics.

Turpan is an important city along the ancient Silk Road and the transportation here is very convenient. It is considered to be the hub between Xinjiang and the eastern part of China. As well as the usual vehicles, there is a special 'donkey taxi' here. It is a kind of flatbed drawn by donkey. Visitors can sit and ride on the vehicle to get a broad overview from a leisurely look around the city.