16-Apr-2004 -- 43 N – 89 E Xinjiang, China
Visit Date: April 16, 2004
Xinjiang is the largest province in China – 1/6 of its total landmass with 181 confluence points. Ray Yip of the Yip-Bannicq Group made the first visit of Xinjiang together with a group of co-workers. The hunting party consisted of Wei Xiaoyu, Song Ying, Leland Li, and Button Zhao from Beijing, and Tan Xiaohu from the Xinjiang Centers for Disease Control.
After concluding a productive workshop in Ürümqi, the capital of Xinjiang, the previous day, the team headed for Turpan city for a site visit. Ray had noted that along the 200 km road there was a confluence point very near Turpan. Turpan is known for being the lowest place in China – 200 meters below sea level at a nearby lake named Eye Ding.
With the possible line hunting in mind, we had an early start for our trip to Turpan – since you never know how long it is going to take. After a visit to a large salt lake, the expressway connecting Ürümqi and Turpan brought us within a 2 km distance to the confluence point, and we were then only about 5 km away from Turpan. The fact this hunt appeared easier than expected was welcomed by the members of the party since most were not prepared for a long walk –most were rallied into the hunt assuming this was a visit of “something special”, not realizing it would be a GPS reading on a pile of rock.
After leaving the expressway, we were able to drive on the desert bed to about 1 km from the point. We reached point zero after a 15 minutes walk on a desert terrain of mixed dry mud and stones. The first-time line hunters all seemed very happy, especially when they were told this was the first confluence visit in Xinjiang.
The landscape of the area is classic desert scenery, typical in most of Xinjiang. Since this was still an early spring day, the temperature was about 30 degree C when we were doing the short walk. By summer, due to the low elevation, this is often the hottest place in China with daily temperatures going over 50 degrees.
Because we needed to take care of other business, we did not visit the nearest community – the 212 Migration Brigade about 2 km away. The Migration Brigades were settlements relocated from other parts of China to develop frontier areas in the 60’s and 70’.
The entire venture only took an extra hour from our planned trip to Turpan. The rest of day was not hurried. Our last stop was a salt mountain, which was 5 km from the confluence point we had just visited. This large mountain is entirely made up of rock salt. We all got a piece of the rock as our memento of the Turpan visit. The rock salt did not pass the airport security check for carry-on because the rock could have been used as a weapon! We had to check in the carry-on luggage in order to bring the salt home. Both Button and Ray have strong professional interest in salt – the use of iodized salt to prevent iodine deficiency. Besides the successful line hunting, this was also an excellent day for salt hunting.
Rating of this hunt:
Degree of Challenge: 2 – one km walk (Scale: 1= very easy - drive to the point; to 5= a death march – glad it is over)
Scenery: 2 – interesting for a few minutes (Scale: 1= not interesting at all; 5= take your breath away)
Culture-social factors: 4– the colorful Uygur culture in nearby Turpan is classic central Asian culture, no crossover with to the mainstream Chinese culture (Scale: 1=dull; 5= most stimulating)