Wednesday, July 22: Turpan, Xinjiang, China
8:00 It’s been a rough night but I’m up and alive. To celebrate the fact that I made it through the night, I head to a nearby western style cafe and order an omelette and banana smoothie. I should have known better. My idea of a nice cheese omelettes does not involve mixing two or three small pieces of rock hard cheese in with two egg whites and frying until the whole thing is the consistency of the plate on which it will be served. I repeat, I should have known better. Four of us had the cheese steak dinner the night before at the same cafe and all each of us had… complications. I’m blaming that on a cream-based (cheese?) sauce that had probably been sitting around for a while since we’ve not seen another customer at this cafe after three very long visits.
8:50 We leave Turpan and head to Heavenly Lake. I’ve seen photos and while the scenery looks amazing, there’s a lot of infrastructure at Heavenly Lake and I can only assume there will be about 50 bus loads full of Chinese tourists enjoying it. I try to keep an open mind.
12:10 We stop at a service station for gas and lunch. Jason determines that the very busy restaurant makes just two dishes so we get one of each: chicken feet in a very spicy sauce and a lovely mutton / ground gristle combination served in a very spicy sauce.
17:30 We arrive at the visitor’s centre located about 5km from Heavenly Lake. After parking our truck, walking about 1km, then taking a 30-seat bus and a 10-seat golf cart, we arrive at our yurt camp. The camp is quite a ways up the hillside, and certainly not “lakeside” as some had been led to believe, but the view is undeniably stunning. Swimming is not permitted in the lake. This doesn’t go down well with those who been dreaming of swimming in a cool mountain lake as a way of coping with 45C weather for the past few days. There are also no toilets at our yurt camp. And by “no toilets” I mean no facilities whatsoever. There is, however, some long grass surrounding the yurt camp. Tread carefully.
18:30 We’re sitting around a gazebo outside our yurt when a procession of tourists come by. Some are happy to stand on the roadway and snap photos of us but many approach us and ask to take selfies. This was fun for a while but now it’s beginning to be a bit of a pain.
20:30 After dinner we walk take a stroll down to the lake. It would be nice to walk through the lush green grassland that surrounds the lake but it’s a minefield of built-in sprinklers which are now in action. Music plays through speakers that are disguised as rocks. I’m not impressed with the Chinese interpretation on “nature” but have to admit that the lake itself is absolutely beautiful.