Monday, 7 November 2016

Silk Road - Part II

Xiahe  ... after arriving in Lanzhou

Labrang Monastery

Add caption
Add caption

Add caption
Add caption
Add caption
Add caption
Add caption
Add caption

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Silk Road China Sep 2016


Urumqi - Turpan ( train ) - Dunhuang - Lanzhou (train) - Xian - ...

SGP -  KL - Shanghai Latitude 31.2N, Longitude 121.4 E  - Urumqi

Keyword Starry sky, Sunrise, 22K battery charger  surrendered

We flew China Eastern Airline from KL to Shanghai after catching a flight from Singapore to KL. .  For the 5 hrs flight I had a right hand side window seat.  The flight headed NE and some hours into the flight I peeped out and found out the sky was clear, moonless and full of stars. The constellation of Orion was out in full splendor with Sirius hugging near the plane's wing. To reduce in-cabin light reflections I covered my head and window with my fleece jacket.  The thought of trying to photograph the stars crossed my mind but I decided against it as Milkyway was not in this position.  Soon  dawn came and i watched the eastern horizon brightening up. Using Note 4 i shot a few frames showing the leading edge of the wing fore against the red horizon.

Night flight and getting into early morning when we arrived in Shanghai. The flight path cut across a little of S Vietnam, Laos exited Northern Vietnam, over Hainan before re entering coastal China.   
Predawn morning , Sun  coming out soon as we cruise North East  towards Shanghai.  

IT was a mad rush after we landed in Shanghai as we need to check out the luggage into domestic flight to Urumqi.  Just after we loaded our check-in we were wanted again. The scanner picked up some wire and  we reopen the luggage and explained that was only a camera wire. Carry on batteries were checked and each was verified on the Amp-hr. We didn't realized one of  three charger banks was 22000 mAHr exceeding the max of 10K..  No choice I have to  surrender. We were already late for the domestic flight. IF not been shepherded through the check in process we would have missed this connecting flight for the counter was closed .

Urumqi - 43.8N, 87.6 E  Geographically we are sharing the same longitude as SriLanka and as far north as the Caspian Sea.
Urumqi is at the Northern China. Longitude wise is like in Nepal. 

When my window seat  passenger gone for the loo break i took over the empty seat and shot a few shoots. Snowy peak as we fly into Urumqi with snow apparently covered only on the wind swept side of the mountain.

Keywords: Local bus, Xinjiang Autonomous Region Museum desert air dried mummies, Remnin Park, Hongshan Park,  Grand Bazaar -  Strange fruits and nuts in the bazaar and the ladies busy with bangles nuts and etc.

Paddles boat at Renmin Park

Willows that bear fruit - a first time observation for me

Good way to quench our thirst. 
Built like a mosque but it wasn't.

The bazaar 

Red willow branches vs metal skewed lambs waiting to be BBQ
Pumpkins ?
Xinjiang yields quite a number of strange looking plant products as remedies of all sort. Surprisingly one of them I have seen in SBG years ago. While we have tongkat ali from Malaysia they have theirs too.

Another aphrodiziac product. Chinese is called  the  'Locked Male' 

Map showing the bazaar at Flag,  People's Park and the Hongsan dead centre of map.

At Renmin Park's entrance were notices showing  certain attires and T-shirt designs that are NOT allowed. Security is strict and tight everywhere : body search and carry items scanned.

The rest of the group had abandon us after the Renmin park.  WE had waited long enough till 2;30pm  and decided to walk to the next destination - Hongsan park on foot,

Pagoda at Hongshan Park

Tianchi  Heaven Lake  Latitude / Longitude +42.01 128.06 

Snowy mountain
Layered mountain and distance snowy peaks

WE notice on way up cable car up there are patches of colors. Some trees are already changing their foliage color - P900 zoomed in and confirmed. The coniferous stays green.
Temples on the slope Tian Chi Lake - see close up view below

Our tour guide
Another view of the Tian Chi

Urumuqi to Tian Chi by bus. Note the snowy mountain of Bogda peak which is part of Tian Shan
Our Yuk is not too far from the Tian Chi Lake - this google map actually resolve the round Yurks images
Tian Chi ( heavenly lake)

Maya Mountain - here already 3000 metre.  A cable car ride brought you here and long long stairs awaiting for you. WE ran out of time and have to turn back.

Dawn arrived. Moon was out. The group of 20 plus occupied two Yurks - it was cold at night as the stoves were not used. It was not winter yet. I spent most of the night under the stars. Moon set at 1:00 and the Milky Way was splendid outside.

Pleiades ( 7 sister) rising in the East against mountain peaks
Milky Way and me - Foreground was illuminated by a calibrated  wave of torch light.

It took me a while.  After extrapolating Ursa Major's front two stars - alpha and beta I should arrived at the Polaris. 
  I never got  a chance to see Polaris in Tropical Singapore.  (  In Mersing Johore the Polaris can be found as the only star that never trail in star field exposure)  My last recollection was in California and Pennsylvania and I can not recall much. Not a prominent constellation to me Ursa Minor.

On our first day of arrival to Tian Chi we were introduced to the Russian owner who brought us to two Yurks - one for the couples and the other for the singles. Lunch were served underneath tents besides the Yurks.  Toilets were a far distance from the Yurk and you can guess where we all go pee in the dead of the night with sub 10 temperature.

I brought along my tripods solely for taking stars and milkyway here. I did it and glad the sky was cloudless with a thin band of milky way overhead. We went back to the Yurk after 4:30am - the cold is getting into me.  In the east Orion is rising against the mountain peaks. Light pollution was minimal; not too bad.

On our itinerary list we were forewarned to keep warm in two places - Tian chi here and HeXi .

Onto Turpan - bus going through Urumqi again.

Karez well maintenance work
Aerial view of the karez well system
Turpan - JiaoHe , Karez well
Karez well ground level pulley system to bring up water and lowered man for well maintenance work

Grapes air dried on branches

Karez and grapes field address found on the map.

Flaming mountain   or is it ? WE are suppose to climb up the 1308 steps ( see image below) but IT WAS CLOSED for maintenance!!!  No wonder when we arrived we thought we were the earliest one.  So we did the 2nd best thing is to climb a small lead-to-no-where hill near by. 

Roads leading into misty mountain
Our tour guide walk there to find out why so quiet ha... I saw an aerial photo of this area from Chinese Tours Magazine reproduced here below
THIS IS courtesy of Chinese Tourist Magazine NOT my photo - Aerial view of the area. Note the round domes 

WE thought we were the first batch to arrive - it was ghost town in the early morning.

THe 1308 steps up to the Flaming mountain.  BUT it was closed for maintenance and our tour agency does not know about it!
P900 shot the the entrance to the steps which we can not visit at this time.

Flaming mountains typical topography

My shadow and the Flaming Mountain surrounding

Sand dunes that look like a sleeping curvy lady

Jiaohe City ruins 

Jiaohe Ruins -  10 Km west of Turpan. Site of an ancient town flanked by the intersection of two rivers.

Jiaohe ruins - City 2300 years ago - oldest city of the world.

Daheyan - train to Dunhuang LiuYuan Station.  

Overnight Train from Turpan to Dunhuang Liuyan.  The rail line is not too far from the highway

This is a toilet stop on the way to Mogao - Hami melon and note the 3-9-so-yang characters beside the Door way.  They sell aphrodisiac mushroom too. 

Sunrise as the train pulled into LiuYan Station in Dunhuang after departure from Daheyan

UNESCO Heritage Site - Mogao Grottoes or Thousand Buddha Caves - we were only let in a few 7-8 caves,  photography NOT allowed.
Mogao Grottos - civilisation exists along rivers - 

Add caption

Add caption
Mogao Grottoes caves with Buddha inside the named caves.
Sand dunes time at Minshashan

Yueya Spring Crescent Lake - this is a composite of two images I shot from a para-glider at height of 133m. The willow shaped Spring looks like the eye of a lady. Interesting to see there is a wet imprint of the Lake on the adjacent sand too.
Tiny camels troops below me in the wide expense of sea of sand
Dates ripening.
Playing Pipa at the back 
Add caption

Your  flying machine. The full- face helmet will means you can  use your  camera view finder. 
Minsha shan sand dunes is one of largest sand dune closest to a city.

IT is difficult to walk on sand. For the sand slides we need to climb up . THis ladder helps. BTW the sand is not hot but still cool at this hour 
THe wooden sledge you sit on and slide all the way down. 
Walk all the way up ( half way) grab a sledge and slide down. Lean your body forward to increase speed, you can change direction by leaning left or right. Ploughing your hand on the sand will result in too large a steering motion... quite fun. I wish to have a longer steeper slope...

Min Shashan and Crescent Lake Spring. The later water had been there since 202 till now.