24th May 2012
Everytime before a trip, there are too many preparation and work to complete before departure, and I don't really like the feeling.
One month before departure there is a terrorist attack at the Urumqi train station, and another attack at the local market happened a few days before we depart. We decided to spend the minimum amount of time at Urumqi as possible.
On the day of departure I forgot one of the smaller bag, which luckily dad and sis manage to send it to me in time. Luckily I didn't turn back as insisted by my dad else I would have missed the check-in window. There is a slight tension, but things turn out alright due to some good judgement and calmness from everyone.
The flight from KL to ChengDu takes around 5-6 hours without delay, where we book a local flight to Urumqi using CTrip. Somehow there is a mistake in my printed name, which takes a few runaround to solve (luckily no one is excessively strict that day). CTrip works very well in China where the airline have all our information without needing us to print out anything (just remember the booking number). For a foreigner, booking through CTrip is more convenient as it accept non-China issued credit card.
The flight is on time and everything is good.
We took a airport bus to town (RMB 10), but waited on the bus for 30 minutes or more as the bus tries to get more customer on board before departing.
We stop at HongShan 紅山 and walk for 5 minutes before we saw YouHao 友好 Parkson, where our accommodation for the night Maitian International Youth Hostel 新疆麦田国际青年旅舍 is just next to it in an alley.
MaiTian is clean, neat and organized. I guess business is pretty much affected due to the recent terrorist attack. We only saw a group of Chinese travelers and two European in the common area.
I am tired of the entire day of moving around.
25th June 2014
Urumqi is a fairly big city, with wide roads and BRT public transport (a bus with a special lane in the middle of the road.
Early in the morning, we leave our luggage at MaiTian and walk to NianZiGou Bus Station 碾子沟客运站. Though the bus station is just one city block away from MaiTian, but it would easily take 30 minutes of walking.
It's 7.30AM and the sky had brighten more than an hour ago (It gets dark around 10PM). Most of the shops are not opened at this hour, even though it's bright day light.
We found a place to have breakfast along Yang Zi Jiang Lu 扬子江路, where they served only porridge and bun for breakfast, while noodle are served only in the afternoon. Each bun cost around RMB 2. Further down the road we found a mini-mart open at this time, so we buy our supply here.
At the bus station, there isn't much helpful information board on the routes. The direct bus to KeKeTuoHai 可可托海 is not available tonight, neither is the slipper to FuYun 富蕴. We have to opt of an overnight hard seat bus to FuYun 富蕴, sad :(
We walk further along Hei Long Jiang Lu 黑龙江路 to another local bus station at Hetian Street 和田街. The street is filled with vendors of local delicacies and fruit sellers in the morning. We wanted to travel to GanGouXiang 甘沟乡 for a simple but famous hiking trip, but sadly the counter say there isn't any bus which goes there, and the counter lady have no patient with my further enquiry. Perhaps my Internet research is outdated. Eventually we decide to go to BaiYangGou 白杨沟 (RMB 14), which is actually the final destination of our intended hiking trip.
The journey to BaiYangGou 白杨沟 is around 90 minutes, and it's mostly barren land along the way.
BaiYangGou 白杨沟 is a national park (RMB 20), and it's filled with grassland hill with patches of pine trees (feels like Switzerland, except more brownish). The inner valley is surrounded by rocky mountains and ice caps.
We could choose to walk 3km to the waterfall (about an hour), or take a ride for RMB 30. The scenery is nice, but lack of benches to relax and enjoy the view. Besides the electric car, you can opt for horse riding as well.
I would say the best part of BaiYangGou 白杨沟 is near the entrance, with the rolling green hills and pine trees (if you are lack of time, don't bother to visit the waterfall). Get off the main road (which is the boring part) and get on the grassland and walk towards the pine trees. Better yet, get on top of the hill and have a great view of the surrounding area, looking at the eagle soaring between the pine tree forest. Or just lay down on the grassland and enjoy a afternoon nap. The sky is clear today, with almost no cloud.