colours of northern Xinjiang and ethnic Tuwa villages 北疆色彩和圖瓦人的民族風情

(Distant Xinjiang – Part 4 of 6) – Part 3 of 6 here

6 August 2015
After exploring the beautiful Kanas nature reserve we paid a visit to the Tuwa/Tuva (圖瓦) villages around the area.

The Tawa/Tuva people or Tuvans (圖瓦人) live in three villages around the Kanas nature reserve, i.e. in Kanas Valley, Hemu (禾木) and Baihaba (白哈巴) with a total population of around 2,500. We were told by the tour guide that for a group of people to be classified as a race/tribe they must have the minimum required population of 3,000 and since the Tawa people have less than that and in fact, are dwindling in number they are not officially recognised but as Mongolian since they are of Mongolian descent. Hence, they are called Mongolian Tuwa/Tuva or Tuva Mongol(蒙古族圖瓦人).

The Tuwa people believe they are the descendants of the troops of Genghis Khan left behind during his crusade to the west so in almost every home there is a portrait of Genghis Khan on the wall.

The first village we visited was in Kanas Valley after we had witnessed the magnificent scenic view of Kanas Lake.

The Tuwa/Tuva people do not live in yurts as the Mongolians (圖瓦人不住蒙古包) but in wooden cabins such as these...

The Tuwa/Tuva people do not live in yurts as the Mongolians (圖瓦人不住蒙古包) but in wooden cabins such as these…

the cabins are built with logs and have no nails but are held together with mud and moss

the cabins are built with logs and have no nails but are held together with mud and moss

we were entertained with salty milk tea, distilled milk vodka, home made snacks and songs and dance...

we were entertained with salty milk tea, distilled milk vodka, home made snacks and songs and dance…

After the visit we hopped in to the van and travelled to Jia Deng Yu (贾登峪) not far away to check in to the resort we were to stay for a night and had a very late dinner. The long walk up and down the mountain, the journey in the van, the late and heavy dinner (it was midnight by the time we finished it!) and a few glasses of the very strong sorghum spirit (高粱酒) caused us to almost dozed off at the dinner table… 🙂

We were prepared with our warm clothing as we were told before we departed Malaysia that the weather in Kanas was expecetd to be sub 20° C but it was milder than we anticipated. Adding just a cardigan was sufficient for us to walk around the resort at night and in the morning.

animals around the resort....

animals around the resort….

the resort where we stayed the night...

the resort where we stayed the night…

for the first time in my life I found in the wardrobe of the resort not the familiar bathrobes but heavy winter jackets provided for the guests!!!

for the first time in my life I found in the wardrobe of the resort not the familiar bathrobes but heavy winter jackets provided for the guests!!!

7 August 2015
We originally planned to go to Baihaba (白哈巴) in the most north-western corner of China which borders with Kazakhstan to visit another Tuwa village but during breakfast our tour guide after a chat with fellow guides found out that the access to Baihaba had been restricted and control tightened and foreign passport-holders were not allowed in except that of tourists from Hong Kong and Taiwan. But still, they were only allowed half way and not to the border.

In fact, the control along the whole journey had been very strict and we had to produce our passports at most check points and especially at the last point before entering Burqin where we were asked to go into an office and questioned, and handed over our passports to be photocopied. The control we were told had been enforced and tightened since the racial unrest and riots in Urumqi in 2009. Inevitably a change of plan was in order and we made our way to Hemu village (禾木村) which is the largest among the 3 Tuwa villages instead.

hemu xinjiang

scenes around Hemu village

stall selling produce and souvenirs

stall selling produce and souvenirs

lamb skewer seller

lamb skewer seller

 naan (饢 - 新疆烤饢,傳統食物)

naan (饢 – 新疆烤饢,傳統食物)

colours of Tuwa

colours of Tuwa

hemu xinjiang

hemu xinjiang

hemu xinjiang

rustic and primitive artwork in Hemu village

rustic and primitive artwork in Hemu village

relaxing and enjoying the sweet and juicy melons before lunch

relaxing and enjoying the sweet and juicy melons before lunch

lunch, more food!

lunch, more food!

out and about after lunch
hemu xinjiang

oh no, more steps!!! the guide told us there were only 600+ steps, a lot less than the 1,068 steps at Kanas Lake but it did not make me feel any better! :(

oh no, more steps!!!
the guide told us there were only 600+ steps, a lot less than the 1,068 steps at Kanas Lake but it did not make me feel any better! 😦

view of Hemu village on top of the hill you can see that a few of the tress have started to change colours... what an amazing riots of colours it is going to be when autumn sets in, I bet!

view of Hemu village on top of the hill
you can see that a few of the tress have started to change colours… what an amazing riots of colours it is going to be when autumn sets in, I bet!

hemu xinjiang

the juicy water melon tasted divine after the long walk in the heat...

the juicy water melon tasted divine after the long walk in the heat…

After Hemu we travelled back to Burqin/Bu’erjin to stay for a night before the long journey back to Urumqi the following day on 8 August 2015.

evening sun at 8:00pm on the way back to Burqin

evening sun at 8:00pm on the way back to Burqin

The architecture in Burqin is so different from the boxy highrises that we had gotten accustomed to around Urumqi and it is definitely more western influenced. Such a quaint little touristy town, clean and nicely landscaped.

photo courtesy of May

photo courtesy of May

burqin xinjiang

burqin xinjiang

this is definitely no Chinese...

this is definitely no Chinese…

neither is this!

neither is this!

We visited the night market in Burqin

Xinjiang barbecue

Xinjiang barbecue

everyone was in action!

everyone was in action!

and of course they had to shop and I simply couldn't drag them away!

and of course they had to shop and I simply couldn’t drag them away!

On the way back to Burqin we saw the fields of sunflowers which we passed by on the way to Kanas. This time we simply could not resist but requested our driver Xiao Wang to stop by the road side and let us out to take a few pictures of the beautiful sunflowers in the evening sun…

burqin xinjiang

burqin xinjiang

burqin xinjiang

burqin xinjiang

This concluded our adventure in the northern part of Xinjiang but our exploration did not end here. After the milder weather in Kanas we were bracing ourselves for the heat in “The Oven” of China! Our journey continued…….

(End of Part 4 of 6) – Part 5 of 6 here

2 thoughts on “colours of northern Xinjiang and ethnic Tuwa villages 北疆色彩和圖瓦人的民族風情

  1. Pingback: mesmerising beauty of Kanas, Xinjiang 醉美喀纳斯 | Colourful Threads of Life

  2. Pingback: land of fire and oasis – Turpan 沙漠中的绿洲- 吐鲁番 | Colourful Threads of Life

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