We started the day at Jiaohe, a 3,000-year old desert dwelling, then moved on to see historical relics and rhino fossils at the Turpan Musuem before making a stop at the Turpan Water Museum to understand Karez, the mind-boggling ancient underground irrigation system.
Upon emerging from the ancient karez, Agnes and I hurriedly bargained and bought some of the best raisins we’ve tasted. Xinjiang is famous for it’s grapes, today we have driven pass a 150km-length of vineyards but didn’t have a chance to take a closer look. But this longing was soon satisfied.
Lunch was at a traditional Uighur family house right next door to the water museum. Our host, Ajehan, his wife and 2 kids live in this beautiful family home with his parents while his twin brother who works in the city would drop by on Sundays.
Our first course, the Xinjiang Polo (our briyani) was a little too sweet for Agnes and Stevie while I truly welcomed them as my first familiar comfort food. The extremely dry climate begets sweeter produce; I find their yellow and orange carrot very delicious and mistaken them for pumpkin. While we were rating their home-made raisins from last season’s harvest, Ajehan and wife were busy cooking up our next course, the laghmen noodle, or ramen.
The Xinjiang Laghmen, the staple that we have learnt to love but later overdosed on.
Xinjiang boasts the best, plumiest, and sweetest tomatoes, really delicious.
The briyani here is no match to our Malaysian ones, no chunky generous lamb and the rice is not the long fluffy basmathi.
I really liked the idea of outdoor dining, eating under a canopy of grape vines was truly unbelievable. Naans, assortment of raisins, bright golden dried pineapples for appetisers were all neatly placed in the centre of our dining table, a very unique one. It was a large rectangle table stacked up on another carpeted larger rectangular platform.
It was pleasant to discover during Stevie’s short chat that a Malaysian filmmaker has actually made a short film here and Ajehan played a speaking part.
Margaux bright and cheery on the 2nd day of our Xinjiang travel.
We had a relaxing time there, and I almost doze off after such a hearty meal. It was the best local meal we had throughout the travel and in my next few postings, you will understand why.
We then bade farewell, made our final visit to a clean modern toilet (which is a rarity here), and then off to our much anticipated destination, Kumtagh Desert, Shan Shan.