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Gaochang Ancient City

The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. (Psalm 103:15-16)

sunny 49 °C
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Turpan, August 15th 2012

Gaochang is the site of an ancient oasis city built in the 1st century BC on the northern rim of the inhospitable Taklamakan Desert. A busy trading center, it was a stopping point for merchant traders traveling on the Silk Road. Gaochang is also known as Kara-Khoja in Uyghur Language. For more reference you can go to Wikipedia here.

The scenery along the road heading to Gaochang is not all of mountain deserts like as you've seen in previous post. Shady trees lined up along the road.
It's not a good picture, I know. But I hope you can get the picture. It was lovely. Romantic.

People at the ticket entrance thought I was Japanese and spoke Japanese with me. Surprisingly their Japanese was good. Apparently Japanese tourists are frequent in Turpan. Unlike with the tour guide at my hotel lobby, this time I responded them in Japanese.

Once through the ticket office, the view in front of my eyes changed drastically.The heat welcomed me back. It was like walking in an open air sauna.
Do you see that staircase on middle left? There must have been another story on top. Do you see that door and window on the door's left? On the left, under the stairs, there's kind of a corridor. What was that used for? In my mind, I saw children running in and out, cheerful, happy, while I'm now thinking, how can one live in a place like this under such heat? Wasn't it unbearable? No, it wasn't, because it was the best thing they knew on their days. Obviously, happiness is not a matter of what we have, but of how we view what we have.

I was offered a donkey cart ride for 30 yuan. I didn't take it, because I thought I wouldn't be able to stop anywhere and let alone taking pictures while riding on a donkey cart. But if I get a second chance to visit Turpan, I would like to try. I haven't been to the further ruins. This place is really a vast area. One section is separated pretty far from the other. As I was traveling solo, I didn't dare to wander too far, fearing of getting lost.

I confess it was my first time witnessing a donkey in real life. There were several tied to a pole near the entrance gate. To my surprise, a donkey's cry is very loud but hoarse. Not at all like a horse's cry. Just one donkey's cry seems to break through into the desert and blow the wind away.

Was this a city wall? The figures somewhat looks like the Great Wall I saw in Jiayuguan.

The other part of the site looked more like caves instead of house dwellings.

See? What was this? A storage place? A stable? Or a garage? To park a cart?

This one looks like an altar.

There were some people gathering inside one of the caves. I can't figure out what they were doing. I didn't dare to come close. At first I thought they were playing a game. But I also heard them singing. Chanting the Qur'an? It's Ramadhan month, you know. But the way they stand, doesn't suggest so.

A mosque stood afar.

Was this a city gate? Looks like. Once again I pictured in mind soldiers standing beside the gate. Obediently, they guarded the city as if it were to stand forever. What's left now? History of mortality.

By the way, did you see the tiny dots on the gate? Those are pigeons. Whatever this structure had been, it's now a pigeon's home sweet home. They were very sensitive and have a good sight. They seemed to be able to see me from meters away. Although my lens was a 200 mm which enabled me to stand in a distance, as soon as I pointed my camera at them, I could hear the rush of their feathers. Woosh!

The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.

The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.

(Psalm 103:15-19)

Posted by automidori 23:25 Archived in China Tagged china xinjiang turpan gaochang

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