I had a romantic notion of Urymchi, our final destination on the Silk Road, from Peter Hessler’s book Oracle Bones. I expected a real cultural shift in the place and the people. Instead, I found a very large modern and therefore, typical Chinese city despite its remote location. Nearby, we spent time on grasslands riding a horse for about 15 minutes (looked like much of the Midwest), then a boat ride on a glacier lake in the mountains, also similar to those found in Alaska and the Rockies. One can rent a yurt there instead of a cabin.
It was a short walk to the restaurant in the city that gave me the only glimpse of the traditional street life.
The Urumchi Museum was very good, with its displays of the various minority groups in the region, including clothing, household goods and living arrangements. It, too, had impressive mummies preserved in the desert areas nearby.
From Urumchi we flew back to Xi’an and were picked up by bus to go to Fuping as guests of Chairman Su and his Fuping Pottery Village and Fule Ceramics Museums.