Day 7: Flight to Urumqi
As far as I can tell, we are the only Americans on the flight. It’s a long flight, from one side of China to the other, a good 2,000 miles.
I have an aisle seat, and a lively card game has been in play for the the entire duration of he flight in the seats across the aisle from me. “Lively”, as in “6 men standing in the aisle watching, laughing, smoking (!!) and bumping into me” for the past 3 hours.
Urumqi - the most landlocked place on Earth - is the capital city of Xinjiang Province - or, more accurately, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
Xinjiang Province borders 8 countries - Russia, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, & India.
Urumqi is in the Taklamakan Desert in Central Asia, close to the border of Tajikistan & Khazakhstan - you know, where Borat is from.
This is a predominantly Muslim area, although there are still many Han Chinese. The majority of the people here are Uyghurs. They don’t look what we think of as “Chinese” at all - and looking around at the mosques and bazaars, you’d think you were in an Arabic country.
The women are beautiful. I am seeing all manners of dress for women. Skintight jeans, fancy dresses, full coverage burkas . . and heels. All of the women wear high heels. Sparkly, crystal-encrusted shoes are the fashion here. I LIKE it!
Most, but not all, women wear head scarves, tied in as many ways as you can imagine.
The women really like sparkle here! Today I saw a woman in a full-length black robe with a wide row of colorful embroidery and sequins trailing up her arms.
Dinner was at a Uighur restaurant. Upon entering, we were led to a basin where water was poured over our hands three times. We are then given a towel to dry our hands - or as my colorfully translated guidebook says, “offering of a fowl with which to dry the hands”.