Xinjiang was our final stop on the Silk Route, thus concluding our two-week long (pre-covid) trip that began in Xi'an and passed through three uniquely beautiful provinces. But perhaps more interesting than the scenery were the people themselves, a diverse and hospitable group who truly treasured their heritage, and their lifestyles.
And now we're on the last segment of our (pre-covid) trip...welcome to Urumqi, Xinjiang! Now, Xinjiang is the largest province in China, almost 1/6 of the entire country. Additionally, it's also the most ethnically and culturally diverse area in China. Out of all our stops along the Silk Road, we spent the most time here, yet could only explore a tiny, tiny portion of the province. Hopefully, I'll be able to visit again later!
As we get ready to leave Gansu, it's inevitable that we pass through the city of Dunhuang, which is a city right on the edge of the province. Strategically located at the crossroads of the ancient Silk Road and the main road leading from India, Dunhuang also controls the entrance into the heart of China.
Gansu was, to me, the best part of our adventure along the Silk Road. Lying between the Tibetan and the Huangtu plateau, Gansu is incredibly dry (so bring lotion!) yet contains so many treasures that attest to the power, beauty and reputation of China during the days of the Silk Road.
Next up along the Silk Road is Qinghai Province (formerly known as Kokonor). Although fourth-largest in size, Qinghai is the third-to-last of all provinces population-wise.
Xi'an is known as the ancient capital of China because it is one of the oldest cities in the country, the capital of both the Han and the Tang Dynasty, the starting point of the Silk Road and the home of the burial mounds of many historically important emperors (and one empress). Today, it's become a historically rich and vibrant city, home to 8 million people.
Qingdao, known as China's Sailing City, is both a major port and an industrial centre situated right on the east coast of China in Shandong Province (China has thirty provinces -- they're kind of like the states here in the U.S.). In Chinese, Qingdao means "greenish-blue island," and that description is entirely true.