more interesting part is where the Uighurs live. You will find ancient mosques
there and modern buildings with pointed arches in the Islamic style.
Many Uighurs wear Islamic dress. Some women have sombre clothing and
keep their faces entirely covered. Others prefer headscarves and colourful
dresses. Cloth caps and jackets, like my English grandfather wore, are
popular amongst the men.
The daily street markets are well worth a visit. All manner of trades are
practised in the open, just as they were in Europe a hundred years ago.
Make sure you take your camera . There's a lot to be photographed but don't
offend people who might not want their photograph taken. My impression was
that the Uighurs are fairly relaxed in this regard ... when the photographs are
taken by tourists from overseas.
I felt safe in Urumqi as a foreigner but was aware of inter -ethnic tension.
Shortly after I left, it flared into communal violence.
14 Mountains of Heaven
The English name is an exact translation of the Chinese "Tien Shan" .
The mountains stretch for 1500 km (1000 miles) along the northern rim
of the Taklimakan desert, from Urumqi in the east to Kashi in the west.
They are as spectacular as the European Alps and very popular
amongst Chinese skiers.