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Flaming Mountain

sunny 43 °C
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Turpan, August 15th 2012

All the way from Tuyuq Village to Flaming Mountain Scenic Area, I didn't take any picture. Pundung.

And as if the sky wasn't to be on my side either, the sunset which was the only reason of my visiting Flaming Mountain Scenic Area, didn't show up as I had expected. Not even close.

The mountain view itself didn't seem as wild as my imagination. The Flaming Mountain lining up along the highway but afar, was more stunning. I think that's like the saying in my home country: cantik gunung which means "mountain beauty. A mountain is beautiful when you look at it from afar. But when you are close, you loose her beauty.

I bought a cup of instant noodle and had dinner while chatting with a guy from the ticket office. He spoke English quite well. He was an Uyghur, a Moslem, but didn't fast. Being straight forward, he told me that he wouldn't be able to work all day long if he had to fast.

"Do other Uyghurs fast?" I asked.

"Sure! The others do!"

I told him how I admired such a devotion. Not just the heat that's killing, but the day is longer than in my home country. In other words, Moslem Uyghurs have to endure double to what my country folks endure during Ramadhan month.

"Do you fast?" he asked me back.

"No. But the majority in my country are Moslem," I replied. That's why I'm kind of familiar with the customs.

"What's you country again?





"No, Indonesia. Yìndùníxīyà.

"Ah, Malaysia."

"No, no. Next to Malaysia."

He drew something in the air with his finger. "Next to Malaysia?" he murmured.

"Do you know Bali?" I asked.


That was not the first and last time people to whom I talked to didn't know where Indonesia is. Ah, that made me feel I was far, far... away from home.

I watched a Chinese family enjoying camel ride along the area. The grandparents didn't join. Suddenly while I was sipping my noodle, the grandmother chattered to me in Mandarin.

"I'm sorry. I can't speak Mandarin," I apologized.

She paused and looked straight at me for a second. "But... you are Chinese, aren't you?"

"Yes, I am. But I only speak little Mandarin."

"Where are you from?"


"Ah, Indonesia!" Wow, finally!

"How about you? Are you from China?"

"No, we are from Malaysia." This explains why they were familiar with the name Indonesia. "Your papa and your mama are Chinese?"

"Yes, they are."

"So you are Chinese, but cannot speak Chinese?"

"Since I was a kid we never spoke Chinese at home. I've just started learning Mandarin."

"What do you speak at home? English?"

"Yes, English." That was true, indeed. It was too complex for to explain to her in Mandarin about the general condition in my home country.

A young Uyghur guy, another staff of the scenic area, joint in our conversation. Unlike the staff I met at the ticket office, this guy couldn't speak English at all. Thus I had to strained my ears to both, to him and to the granny, trying to comprehend their Mandarin. From that moment on, my admiration for Uyghur people in Xinjiang grew. Being an Uyghur living in Xinjiang means you have to master at least 2 languages: Uyghur and Chinese. Later on in Tashkorgan, my guide told me that Uyghur people speak Uyghur but write in Arabic. What?? Does that mean 3 languages?? How can you expect these people to master another language e.g. English?

"Let me take your picture," said the Uyghur young guy.

"Sure." I handed my camera to him.

"Wait. Another one." Now I have several photos from this place, vertical and horizontal.

"Stand there. Let me take your picture," said the Uyghur guy again.

"Wait. Another one."

"Now sit there," he ordered. So I sat.

"Wait. Another one."

In case you are wondering what that long thing towering next to me is, that's a giant thermometer. It has become kind of Flaming Mountain Scenic Area's icon. It was 9:03 PM Beijing time, but the temperature was 420 C. Worse than my Jakarta.

Someone told me that it's meaningless to visit this scenic area, because Flaming Mountain is just all along the street. In a sense, that's correct. But, in case you have interest in relic stories, curved paintings, like seen on my picture background, this scenic area must have a plus for you. I'm not into that kind of art, though. However, there's another plus. In the basement museum there were some written information about the history of Turpan and Xinjiang in general. I'll write about that in my next post. Anyway, Flaming Mountain Scenic Area is not just the mountain. Of course if you only need to assure yourself (and others) that you've been to Flaming Mountain, you don't need to spend 40 yuan for that.

Posted by automidori 22:54 Archived in China Tagged china xinjiang turpan flaming_mountain

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