Xinjiang is the home of the Uygur minority. The Uygur are ethnically related tot Turkish people, their language is also related to Turkish. A minority in China, now a minority in their homeland that is rich in minerals and oil. That and the better opportunities going to the Han Chinese had to lead to the ethnic tensions that erupted in 2009, just before my visit. I went around by bus and train but but flew from Hotan to Urumchi, since I hate night buses and there was no other opportunity. The bus trips were interrupted by numerous roadblocks manned by a lot of varieties in uniforms. At some I was ignored, at some my passport was thoroughly inspected before noting me down as 'De burgermeester van Haarlem' (The mayor of Haarlem). The internet and the possibility to send text-messages or phone international was shut down in the entire state.
The first bus stop after Dunhuang. Famous for its melons. Otherwise not a very worthwhile destination, although I saw pictures of spectacular looking nearby sites.
Lanes covered with vines, fields filled with grapes, a friendly population and some nice sites in the surroundings. Also a place to relax and hang out a bit
The most Uygur city. That is in the center, the suburbs are getting very Chinese. The famous Sunday market is worth a visit but the best is the animal market. That is if you don't want to buy something. The trip to Karakul is a rewarding one, both for the lake and the trip itself. The old town seems to disappear fast, but the restaurant area has its charm.
A pleasant small place that makes a nice stopover on the way to Hotan and beyond.
There seems to be not so much really authentic left. Once famous for its Silk now for Jade. A very imposing military presence made my visit less pleasant.
High rises and motorways through the center. Besides the museum there is not really much to see, except for the ethnic culture street that features a Kentucky Fried Chicken.