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Urumqi is the capital of and largest city in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
Urumqi runs on a North-South axis. The city is 90% Han, but the south (particularly the area around the bazaar) has a significant Uyghur majority.
There are no particularly up-market or green areas of the city, and while the vast majority of people live in apartment complexes, there are a few separate “mansion-style” houses being built, with price tags starting at about 1.5 million RMB. The expat population is scattered throughout the city, with the largest concentrations being the foreign students residence at Xinjiang University. The total population of Western expats in Urumqi is probably in the region of 200 at any one time.
All 5 star hotels accept foreign credit cards and can convert Travellers Cheques. However, travellers have experienced significant problems when trying to withdraw cash from A.T.M’s using foreign debit cards.
Summer daily max approx 36c Sunrise 6am Sunset 10pm
Winter daily min approx –25c sunrise 9.30am Sunset 6pm
The weather is generally very stable, with only occasional rain or wind in the summer. Humidity is very low throughout the year.
Snowfall remains on ground throughout winter, and may cause road closures from time to time.
Pollution is a serious problem in winter, and a gray pall will settle over the city for the entire season.
Busses are 1 RMB before 10pm, 1.5 RMB after 10pm. Busses normally stop after midnight, and resume at 6am daily. Taxis have a flagfall of 6 RMB, 24 hours per day. Normally they are readily available, though in winter you may have to wait and/or fight for a cab.
In Urumqi itself it is possible to get both Kazak and Kyrgyz visas, which normally take 3 days to process. However if you want to go to Pakistan you will need to plan in advance, or make the long trip back to Beijing or Hong Kong to apply.
2.5 hours drive to the south is Turpan, a major Silk Road destination. Significant sites include Gaochang, and Jiaohe, both seats of ancient kingdoms. Jiaohe is particularly well preserved. There are many other fascinating sites scattered across this huge region, but good planning, flexibility, and a sense of humour are called for.
10 décembre 2006
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