The deserted city of Jiaohe

We are quite tired when we wake up. The KTV (karaoke bar) in the same building and a scorching heating system kept us awake most of the night. So a bit groggy we jump in the car and leave for Turpan, the city of grapes. We take the same highway as a few days earlier and are happy with the fine road! Then Jason tells us a sandstorm is coming up in Dunhuang and snow could close the highway in the Gansu province. This kills the last bit of our good mood. In silence we drive on. We are happy to have our a webasto heating system in our oldtimer. We knew we wouldn¡¯t use it in Iran and so but for the last few weeks we are using it more and more. Now it¡¯s even necessary. We didn¡¯t expected it to be this cold!

On arrival in Turpan we have difficulties finding a cheap and nice accommodation. One hotel shows us the room and when we got our bags out they tell us they don¡¯t accept foreigners (some hotels have no permission to allow foreigners). When we ask why they showed us the room they say they don¡¯t know. How strange? When we ask Jason why some hotels are allowed to take foreigners and some not he can¡¯t tell us. To protect foreigners maybe¡­ i am not sure?

After a nice Sechuan lunch (gongboa chicken) we head to the the deserted city of Jiaohe 7 km west of Turpan. The ancient city lies on a hill where two rivers meet each other. This created a natural barrier for any attackers and no wall was needed. Fortunately this place is not turned into a fancy tourist attraction and most of it is kept in the way they found it. Although most of the building have collapsed, it¡¯s still an impressive site. Okay it doesn¡¯t rival the deserted citadel of Bam in Iran where I asked Elles to marry me!

We wonder around for a couple of hours and then head towards the Karez. The area we are in is one of the hottest places (not in wintertime) in China and closeby is the second lowest depression (after the dead sea) in the world. As the area virtually doesn¡¯t receive any rain, special channels were dug from the mountain to transport the melted water into the cities. The Karez are a masterpiece of engineering as the total length of all separate handmade canals sums up to 5000 km!! Some of the Karez are still in use and maintained. We get some explaination and visit one of the underwater canals. Pretty interesting and it reminded us of the canals we saw in Yazd, Iran. More interesting are the dried grapes they also sell at the place.We taste several different kinds and yes, we now know why this area is famous for grapes. We can¡¯t leave without buying some. The rest of the eve we spent on the room. Luckily no KTV in this hotel!