We woke up the next day and left Ürümqi (烏魯木齊) towards Yuli (尉犁), in the Bayingol region of XinJiang. According to Google, we traveled approximately 515km that day! As we were leaving Ürümqi, we stopped at the Ürümqi Goldwind wind farm. I'm sure most of us have seen windmills before, but the amount of windmills at that windfarm was unbelievable.
(people pics via Flora's camera)
After the wind farm, we were on our way to Yuli. I'm sure you'd wonder, "515km in a day? Don't you get bored in the car?" Well, not really. Besides having brought books to read, we were pretty mesmerized by our surroundings. You have to understand, Toronto's pretty flat. There's not much around when we go on road trips and such. Check out the scene we were driving through. We were pretty much "ooohing" and "ahhhing" the whole way!
By late afternoon, we got to The Luoburen Village (罗布人村寨) in the Taklamakan Desert (塔克拉玛干沙漠). The Taklamakan Desert is said to be the 17th biggest desert, covering an area of 270,000km sq.
Left: We were greeted by camels
Right: It's like paradise!
Right: We rode these sand dune buggies. Such fun! (Annie was scared though, so she didn't go for the ride.)
We hiked through the desert for a bit after and waited for the sunset. No luck though, there were a few rare clouds in the sky and they ruined our shot.. but as you can see, we found ways to amuse ourselves during the wait!
Right: We met a new friend in the desert!
During our wait, someone (I believe it was Flora) suggested it might be fun to dive/slide down the sand dune. (It looked pretty steep.) Kel volunteered for the dive.. here's a video Flora took.. :)
We left The Luoburen Village during the sunset and went for dinner. (Might I add that during that time of year in XinJiang, the sun sets after 9pm.) By the time we got back to the neighbouring town of Yuli, it was completely dark. The restaurant where we had dinner was having a power outage, (apparently that was quite common in small towns) and was running off of its own generator. Over dinner, we debated whether we would stay in town for the night or drive a bit further to a bigger city. The main considerations here was that there weren't any hotels in this town for foreigners, only for locals. (Siu Bo later explained to us that in China, hotels have 2 different permits/licenses. One for serving locals, and another for foreigners. Besides needing to meet different sets of criteria, the foreign license is also more expensive. So unless they've got arrangements with tour groups or know they can recuperate the costs, they'll likely just opt to serve locals. And when I say locals, I mean citizens of China.) To stay the night, we'd have to find a hotel that would overlook the fact that we're foreigners, or be able to sneak in successfully, and not mind the sub par conditions. If we were to head to the next town, it'd be an hour and a half drive, meaning we won't get there til after eleven. On top of that with our first attraction the next day, we'd have to backtrack 45 minutes! In the end, we all voted to stay the night (afterall it's just one night), but we all agreed at the end of our trip that accommodations that night was definitely at the bottom of the list. Oh, and I wanted to add that the block did regain electricity about a half hour after dinner. Otherwise, we'd have to borrow Flora's flashlight at the motel. (Don't ask me why, but Flora is apparently equipped with a flashlight, headlight, and a book light... something to do with climbing and traveling with Annie haha) Oh, and another thing we learnt during our stay, hotels always claim they have a/c, but some either don't plug in their individual units, or they take away the remote so you can't turn it on. At this place, they did both. Kel attempted to plug it in, and the plug doesn't even fit the socket and from what I remember, he actually broke the plastic frame on the outlet trying to jam it in!