If you don't care what is real.
11.08.2012 - 02.09.2012
Turpan, August 16th 2012
"Why go there?" objected my driver to my request of going to Grape Valley. "It's very expensive! 60 yuan!"
I knew already the entrance ticket cost 60 yuan, because at almost every scenic spot, there was an information board about entrance ticket of all scenic areas in Turpan. I didn't mind to spend that much, because grapes had been my first reason of putting Turpan into my itinerary.
"I'll bring you to a place where you can take pictures of grapes for free," said my driver again.
On the road I saw the sign pointing to Grape Valley but my driver kept on going.
Beside a vineyard by the side of the road, my driver pulled over. "There, go down, get inside, take pictures. Free!"
I went down, took a couple of pictures, and went back to the car. Having seen grapes everywhere and of course taking pictures of them, I couldn't find any other angle to make a different picture.
My driver kept on repeating that Grape Valley Scenic Spot is expensive. At this point I was rather confused what he wanted actually. As Grape Valley Scenic Spot was my last destination of the day, did he actually want to finish earlier? Why does he have to worry of my paying the entrance ticket? Wasn't it settled yesterday that I'm hiring him until he drops me off at the train station at 9:00 PM?
I couldn't reach Cory through my cellphone and I lost Susan's number, so I pushed my driver to call Susan with his cellphone. Language barrier is adventurous only when it's over. Before that, it's frustrating. In English, I repeated to Susan that I understood what my driver was saying, but I still wanted to see Grape Valley Scenic Spot. I emphasized on our agreement yesterday.
Finally, at the desired spot.
Stormy wind gave me a hard welcome blow. For seconds I covered my face -- and camera -- against the whirling sand around me. Is this the desert storm? So I return? But I saw tourist buses coming in. Groups of local tourist got off, their guide holding a flag marched in front, and they followed as if all was calm. The wind blew of one of the tour guide's flag. She laughed through her microphone, everyone laughed, and so must the show go on. I decided to follow these noisy tourist groups and find out what they are going to find out. Logically, being together with a bunch of people must make it harder for the storm to pull off from the ground. That doesn't make sense, I know.
A corridor of grapes. Okay, I have seen that a couple of times up to now. Next, a corridor of souvenir vendors. Pass. Uyghur Residance. Hmmm, teenagers in the colorful traditional custome danced on the balcony persuading a Chinese couple to take pictures with them. I couldn't grasp the whole conversation, but understood they were bargaining about the price. The teenagers weren't satisfied with the price offered by the Chinese man and their mimic only brought my mind back to Tuyoq Village yesterday. The way they pushed a customer, resembled much to the kids' mother's attitude at Tuyoq Village. If all Uyghur mothers treat tourists like I had been treated yesterday, I shouldn't be surprise that by teenager a Uyghur girl masters the art of harsh persuasion, in Mandarin. They wouldn't need their mother to translate for them into Mandarin anymore.
Despite tourists being allowed into the traditional house, I walked away. What's the point of entering a traditional house that was merely built for tourists? It's not real.
Soon I got bored with the crowd and strayed away. This whole scenic spot seems to be more about Uyghur in general than grapes. At another side I saw an elderly man sitting crossed leg in front of, maybe his house. He was wearing the Moslem skull cap and cloak as many Uyghurs do. A young man stood beside him. What are they doing? Waiting for tourists to have pictures taken with the old man?
After just several steps away I heard a loud gargling noise behind my back. "Krrroookkk.... krrroookkk.... !" It was that Uyghur man sitting crossed leg. Oh, I said to myself, apparently Uyghurs do no different than the Chinese. It seems to be a crime on this land of China not to be able to make a gargling sound. Regardless of Chinese or non-Chinese, every baby's first word born on this land should be: "Krrroookkk.... krrroookkk.... !"
Right when I arrived at this spot, a cockfight performance had just been over. Wow, I didn't know cocks had to fight until this part of the world! I thought they only fought in my home country. Poor cocks. Maybe in their previous life they were karate players who used to cheat. No, I don't believe in reincarnation.
What else now? Apricot Garden, said the sign post. I followed. No fruits. Not even one.
Best thing, and only, of all in this Grape Valley Scenic Spot was to me this grape juice. Not only that it is, something about grape, it was very sweet and freshening.
Same drum as the ones in Xi'An Drum Tower, and Jiayuguan First Beacon Tower.
A fruit vendor near the exit gate. Any idea what fruit these are? Yup, Hami melon!
"How was it?" asked my driver even before I laid my butts on the seat.
"Not bad." I lied.
I often read the word "touristy" in reviews and blogs, but I never did really understand what people meant by "touristy" until this day. According to Farlex's free dictionary, touristy is: Attracting or designed to attract tourists, especially in a showy or inauthentic way. Come to Grape Valley Scenic Spot and you'll find how true that is. Josh Summers wrote in his guide -- it's more like a review -- about Turpan, to mark off Turpan Pendi. He didn't say so about Grape Valley. On the contrary, in my opinion, Turpan Pendi is double worth to visit than this inauthentic place. So is it with Tuyoq Village. Only visit Grape Valley Scenic Spot and Tuyoq Village on two conditions. Number one, if you only have a couple of hours in all Xinjiang. Number two, if you don't care of what's real.