I would rather say, Gaochang is less touristic. Just look at those tiny spots like ants.
11.08.2012 - 02.09.2012 47 °C
Turpan, August 16th 2012
Jiaohe is also known as Yarkhoto. Recommendations I read about Jiaohe seemed to favor Jiaohe over Gaochang. Therefore, in my itinerary I crossed out Gaochang and left Jiaohe, thinking there would be no point visiting two ruin sites. However, Susan, Cory's agent whom I knew through China Expedition Tours, put Gaochang in the itinerary. Since she already assured me that I wouldn't be late for sunset at Flaming Mountain, and most important, didn't charge extra, 'Why not?" I thought. Thanks she did for the moment I entered Jiaohe's entrance, I decided Gaochang fits my taste better. Gaochang looks more real.
"Insight Guides: Silk Road" said:
"Karakhoja (Gaochang) is larger than Yarkhoto (Jiaohe), but rather less well preserved.
I would rather say, Gaochang is less touristic. Just look at those tiny spots like ants. So many tourists!
These pathways does preserve the tourist's comfort, but lessen the ancient essence for such a path would surely be not in existence during Jiaohe's days.
I tried to avoid the crowd and I did it so well that I started to feel scared. What if someone jumps out from behind these mud walls and drag me back behind. Who would know? That had been the common fear of all Silk Road travelers in the old days, hadn't it?
But turning back would waste my effort of bringing myself up uphill under this heat that starts killing again.
Oh well we have to go back a bit. I forgot to tell you that I was entering the Eastern City Gate. I copy for you the English version:
Building by carying on the 30m high cliff in comparatively early period, the city gate still consists of two watch towers on either side, a sentry post, the watch tower on either side of the city gate, an enclosure for defense. In 1994, six ancient wells were excavated and several pieces of stone implements and pottery wares were unearthed.
That round figures in the middle do look like the tools to make pottery. Don't you think so?
Residences, it says.
This one was the monastery, if I'm not mistaken.
Though Wikipedia said: "The city was built on a large islet (1650 m in length, 300 m wide at its widest point) in the middle of a river which formed natural defenses, which would explain why the city lacked any sort of walls. Instead, steep cliffs more than 30 metres high on all sides of the river acted as natural walls." I wonder what these were then? Other sources have also mentioned that Jiaohe City had no walls.
The further I walked, to my relief, I met small groups coming my way. Apparently they had been following the crowd's path and then moved on to where I had been but on the opposite direction.
I wonder also, how long did it take for people during those days to complete a construction of mud like these? Chunk after chunk, laid one on another. It looks more like a child's tower castle or sort but in a giant scale. It also reminded me of my wax toy when I was a kid.
How about this one? Is this natural or man-made? Tiny threads seem to bind layer after layer. Silk threads? Hahaha, can't be.
The absurd tourist, ooops traveler: me, fully covered from head to toe. The sunburn I suffered in Brunei had taught me the lesson. Better look silly than suffer. Besides, in an area like this, there's another thing to be protected from: sand.
Are you asking me about my trousers? Well, there's only one person in this world who knows the story. I didn't have time to do the same for a shirt. You would have been surprised.
I saw the sign pointing to a watchtower. Bearing in mind a tower like in Jiayuguan, I was surprised at what I found.
The English version says: With a circumstance of 88 meters, the watchtower is 84 meters high. It consists one main underground room and four side military rooms for guarding and peace keeping of the city. Due to severe damage, it was repaired by Turpan Cultural Relics Office in 1978.
It was easy to find my way back to the Government Office section. Chinese tourist guides who all used microphones added to the naturally loud Chinese people. Somehow I felt sorry for them, because it seemed that tourist guides didn't bring their tour members to the places I had been just now. The only people I met were merely private tourist groups like families, but under a travel agent.
Let me copy for you again the English version of The Site of Government Office:
Covering an area of 1482.3 square meters, this magnificent building was first constructed during Jushi Period (?-450AD) and it had been expanded in the past dynasties. This could be the site of tiptop administration organizations of the Former Jushi Petty kingdom and the later periods' Jiaohe Perfecture, Jiaohe County and Anxi Militiary Viceroy's Office of Tang Dynasty. A large scale ancient well was excavated in 1994 and many pieces of relics have been unearthed.
The view from here was rather pleasing.
And locals took advantage of that by renting traditional clothes to pose with pretty colorful local ladies. And I, took advantage of them all. Thank you guys, you've made my album more colorful.
Are those the "natural walls"?
I stepped out of the time tunnel and bid Jiaohe farewell.