Urmqi (Wulumuqi in Chinese spelling),
situated on the northern slope of the Tianshan
Mountains, is most famous for being the furthest
city in the world from the ocean. A relatively
new city (founded in 1763), the most land-locked
area in the world is essentially a modern and
drab place, resembling a Russian industrial town
in many ways, with few sights of interest but
a lively resident population who sustain enough
intrigue to hold you here for a day or two. This
is also a compulsory stop in terms of transportation
(and has been since the Silk Road opened) throughout
Xinjiang, and the spectacular Heaven's lake, a
day trip from the city, justifies a visit to this
area in itself.
Previously known as Dihua, meaning
"Enlightening and Civilizing", the Chinese
renamed the city in 1884 to its present day tag.
Although the feeling and atmosphere here is predominantly
Uigurian, 80% of the population is Han Chinese.
Long an important trading center, the industrial
and commercial side of the city is dominated by
the Han Chinese population today, with huge department
stores and factories ruling the skyline here.
An exploration of the old streets and the Uigur
area known as Erdaoqiao provides a more interesting
look of the different nationalities living in
Keep one thing in mind - time difference!
Although it is the same time on the clock as Beijing,
residents here actually live life two hours behind.
This does not, however, affect the train, plane
or bus. So stick to the time you are given.