Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang is famous for its Uygur culture. Ist so close to the Stans that the feel is much more Turkish than chinese. This was supposed to be even more the case decades ago, but the Chinese government pushed to settle more and more Han chinese people into Xinjiang to get better control over the region. Oil and gas reserves below the desert sand is too precious. Nower days its about 60% chinese and 40% Uygur. Recently xinjiang got into the news about terrorist attacks as the Uygur minority seeks for independece from China.
Whats true or false - you never know. So much for my dangerous political half-knowledge. Fact
is that the police presence in the city is undenieable. Sometimes there are even military patrols with tanks and all roaming around. Before entering almost every building you gonna have to do a
security check which is entforced with the same randomness as in the shanghai metro.... Urumqi itself has a very laidback feel to it and the small roads around the Bazar where the Ugyur
community is most alive are really cool. Its a different world and a glimpse on whats to come in the stans... Very exciting!
Initially we planned to stay here for two days and sort out things, service the bikes and take a rest before we head to the Kyrgyz border 800 kms to the west.
Everything was sorted out (we even sent a big package with useless stuff back to shanghai to get rid of some weight) the bikes had new shoes and fresh oil, and we had stuffed our faces with the most delicious and original xinjiang food out there. But we felt like an extra day vacation was well deserved and extented our stay for another night. Being your own boss makes it very easy to apply for vacation.