We arrived in Turpan (Tǔlǔfān in Mandarin), the grape capital of Xinjiang, via the old Silk Road (now boringly called G312) yesterday with the intention of facing our next challenge:
Challenge 2: Work on a farm for a day.
Before we left Urumqi, a taxi driver in told us that Turpan is the hottest place in China. To Albert, it felt just like home in Phoenix, Arizona but Adrian was a bit surprised by the sudden wave of 41 degree C (105 F) heat.
But at night it cools down nicely and we saw lots of people sleeping outside on big metal-framed beds. We’re still on Beijing time here which means the sun sets two hours later than expected (around 10:00 PM). But, as in Urumqi, most Uighur people use their own Xinjiang time when talking to each other. Albert asked one Uighur man in the Urumqi bus station what time his bus left and he had to look at Albert’s watch instead of his own. He said, “In one hour” because the two watches were set two hours apart!
We’re optimistic about being able to find a farm today because within one minute of getting off the bus from Urumqi yesterday, we met a man who not only speaks English but also owns a grape farm. Unfortunately, he has already harvested his grapes but he’s sending a friend of his to meet us today to take us around looking for another farm that needs work. Better put on sunscreen!
The first surprise of the trip happened yesterday before we even got out of Guangzhou. Our boarding cards mysteriously directed us to business class for the 5 hour flight. We’re still not sure what happened (we didn’t want to ask any questions!) but it was fun to look down on the economy class for the first time in our lives.
Urumqi is different from any other city we’ve visited in China. A lot of people here look Eastern European and radio music has traces of Russian and Arabic influence. Road signs are in Chinese characters and Arabic script.
After checking in to a very nice hostel, we went to a little coffee shop where a boy named June who worked there spontaneously and unexpectedly wrote us a poem then read it to us over the shop’s loudspeakers. The text of his poem appears (as he wrote it) below the video.
We also met a very kind woman named Dr. Yang and her son at a little noodle shop. She told us her incredible tales of her long history of consulting fortune tellers and she thinks she may be able to help us find one today. We’re well on our way toward accomplishing:
Challenge 1: Find a fortune teller and get your fortune told.
Enjoying business class
At the Urumqi hostel
Poem by June (许晓龙) in Cite Coffee, Urumqi
Time goes by, the good friend ship has gone,
The sky is blue.
There are many happiness in Cite Coffee,
This is my sweet valentine,
Say that you love me, don’t go away,
When you feeling empty you should drink…latte coffee.
It’s like dancing or a beautiful girl,
A summer’s day we are meeting here is very difficult,
So love is thanks giving.