Life with 4 kids 6 and under. Our trip to pick up Tonito in China is: mid-March 2008 through April 12. Our trips to pick up Ricky in Ethiopia are in June and August of 2010.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

DAY 10: Urumqi: Heavenly Lake

Click for Urumqi, Xinjiang Uygur Forecast

Today the 4 families got together and asked the guide to organize a day trip to the Heavenly Lake, which is an alpine lake almost 2000 meters above sea level near Urumqi in the Tianshan Mountains. It took about 2 hours to drive there on a road they are currently repairing (fixing the bumps and curves). This part of Xinjiang province is famous for apricots, apples, and peaches (while the south of Xinjiang has peanuts, figs, melons and pomegranates) but right now everything was brown and grey coming out of winter. The river beds are just starting to have a trickle of water, coming from the snow melting in the mountains. In this part of the Tianshan Mts there are a lot of Kazakh people (one of China's ethnic minorities), who our guide kept calling "tribalmen." They are nomadic, and come on their camels with their sheep for the summer and fall months to the Heavenly Lake region to live in "yurts." The picture above is a picture of one of the many yurts we saw- which are guide explained were "Kazakh mobile homes." You might have heard of a yurt before- the Mongolians use them too, except they live even further north. So the Kazakhs set up these circular houses in the warmer weather so there herds can graze on the fertile grass, and then in the fall they either kill the animals for meat (they eat a lot of mutton in Xinjiang), sell the meat to the cities, or keep some for next year. So in the winter and spring they live in mud houses in little villages further south.

Things our guide told us about the Kazakhs in this region:
  • While they are predominantly Muslim, they also worship animals such as the wolf, eagle and swan and plants such as the snow lily.

  • The men farm and hunt, while the women deliver lambs (? help the sheep to have babies I guess?), milk the sheep and goats, make yogurt and milk tea.

  • They have 2 food groups: the red foods (horse meat, mutton, beef, camel meat) and white foods (bread, milk, cheese and yogurt)

  • They are very hospitable, and will share their yurt with anyone passing through.

  • Just in case you are in the market, a yurt can cost up to 10,000 RMB, which is about $1430 USD, but the average price is about 2000 RMB ($285 USD).
The entrance to the park; the monkey in the parking lot; starting to walk; Tonito in front of the restaurant.

Once we arrived to the place (I guess it is the equivalent of a National Park), we rode another small golf-car type bus up to the entrance. As we were getting off there was a monkey that ran out of the trees to the parking lot- the kids LOVED it and Vivi thought we were going to the zoo:). We hiked for a bit and then arrived at the breathtaking view of snow-covered mountains towering over a frozen lake- obviously appropriately named! We hiked around for about an hour and let the kids run around in the very rocky terrain. The air was so clean- it felt so fresh compared to the big cities we had been in.

After walking around and enjoying the breathtaking scenery, we ate local food at this tiny restaurant. Noodles with lamb, lamb shishkabobs, and some bok choy-type veggie (all a bit spicy and delicious), and of course tea and naan- naan is the flat sesame bread from Xinjiang.

We then boarded the bus for the 2 hour trip home, during which most of us fell asleep! Carrying a squirmy three year old is hard work!!:)

Back at the hotel, Tonio and I decided to make a quick trip back to the Bazaar, where we bought a skinny hallway rug (from camel hair!), and some other little souvenirs. Our bags are so full!!! I think in Guangzhou we will buy another suitcase!!! How are we going to take the train to Hong Kong??!

Anyway, we came back from the market and found the plaza bursting with children's games, inflatable rides and a climbing wall, and this crazy game of putting a kid in a large plastic ball (think hamster ball) and then putting the ball in a pool of water. The kids try to run but cannot stand up no matter what. We put Drew, Tonito, Vivi, Luke and Lily in this inflatable bouncy moon walk and they LOVED IT!!!! Drew is adorable- he always is helping Tonito and kept picking him up, pulling him out of different cars we would stuck in, trying to pull him up the slide by his hands- they are little buddies and Tonito really looks up to Drew. I videotaped it, but didn't have my regular camera. There were kites everywhere, music, the huge screen TV was on, the stuffed animals were riding all over- it was crazy fun. What a perfect last night in Urumqi!!!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I loved the pictures of the lake and mountains! I'm sure it was breathtaking! Love, Mom