As I’d covered Urumqi’s charms (and hassles) and wanted to see more of Xinjiang province, I followed the advice of my hotel’s general manager and headed for Turpan, a town about 2½ hours by bus from Urumqi. I envisioned a less militarized, more charming town.
I made the mistake of taking a taxi to the bus station. Don’t do that. My driver took a longer, more expensive route. Both the BRT 1 and BRT 3 buses, among others, will get you from the city center to the south bus station. There are buses leaving every 20 minutes so don’t be taken in by the touts in front of the station who will drive you.
Along the way, the landscape is stark, but that’s Xinjiang. There were some windmills and construction, but otherwise little to look at. Bring a book and you’ll be fine.
The Lonely Planet warned that Turpan is in the “Death Valley of China.” Temperatures can surpass 100°F (40°C), so I was glad I had my sunscreen and parasol. There isn’t much to the town. The bus station was a block away. After passing the butcher and getting some cold water at a general store, I soon found the traditional market.
As in Urumqi, you have to pass through security to get into the market or just about anywhere. Still the market was fun to wander through.
I just had some bread for lunch sitting in a park under a big tree.
I wandered a bit more looking for the museum, but it was so hot that I contented myself with the central park and an air conditioned underground mall, which was cool, but oddly empty.