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Wild and wonderful Xinjiang in far west
Latest Updated by 2006-05-22 10:51:27
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IN the list of 50 travel attractions foreigners should visit in China, three places in northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region made the list: Kanasi, Kashgar and Urho Ghost Castle. Here, we highlight Kanasi and Urho Ghost Castle.


Located in Burqin County of Altay City, sharing borders with Kazakhstan, Russia and Mongolia, Kanasi Nature Reserve boasts a beautiful natural ecosystem formed by lakes, rivers, glaciers, forests and grasslands.

Kanasi, which means "rich and beautiful, mysterious and enigmatical"' in Mongolian, may well be the most alluring resort in northern Xinjiang.

Originating from the Kanasi Glacier in Altay Mountain, Kanasi River runs through the mountains for about 125 kilometers, with Kanasi Lake like a pearl shining in the beautiful river.

The lake's color varies with seasons and weather. It's sometimes blue, sometimes green, sometimes as white as milk. The lake is 1,375 meters above sea level and covers an area of nearly 46 square kilometers.


Kanasi Lake

The six bays along Kanasi Lake each have a marvelous tale. Among the six, Wolong Bay (Crouching Dragon Bay) and Moon Bay are most attractive to visitors and photographers. Virgin forests and flowery grasslands combined with clear green water create a paradise. Rare red deer, marmot and snowcocks live peacefully with cows and sheep.

Hemu Village in the reserve is one of the three locations in China of the Tuva Mongol, believed to be the descendants of Genghis Khan's troops.

Other reserve attractions include Yaze Lake (Duck Swamp Lake), Double Lake, White Lake and Friendship Peak Glacier.

When to visit

Because of the long winter in Kanasi, the best time to visit is from June to October. As Kanasi is located along the Chinese border, visitors must have a frontier permit for Burqin County. Permit scan be applied for individually or through travel agencies in Urumqi.

Getting there

Kanasi Lake is 140 kilometers from Burqin County, and 246 kilometers from Altay City. There are flights to Altay City and tourist coaches to Burqin County from Urumqi. You can enter the nature reserve by car or on horseback with local guides.

Urho Ghost Castle

Located at the northwest edge of Zhungarian Basin in Xinjiang and 100 kilometers northeast of Karamay City, Urho Ghost Castle is also known as Wind City, with its landscape shaped by wind erosion.

After years of erosion, hills were carved into what resembles Liuhe Pagoda at the side of Qiantangjiang River in Hangzhou, Heaven Temple in Beijing, the pyramids of Egypt, and Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

At night, strong wind sets sand flying and stones rolling with frightful sounds. The local Mongolian people call the place "Sulumuhak," while the local Kazakh people named it "Shytirkrs." Both have the same meaning - ghost castle.

Beautiful pebbles can be found everywhere in Urho Ghost City, and with luck, crystal carnelian can be found.

Covering an area of 10 square kilometers, Urho Ghost Castle is 350 meters above sea level. According to scientific research, the place was a huge fresh lake about 100 million years ago, home to aquatic animals and plants. Evidence also suggests the place was once inhabited by dinosaurs. However two diastrophisms changed the lake into the Gobi Desert, eroded further by drought and gale.

The location is a favorite for Chinese filmmakers. "Seven Swords," "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and "Warriors of Heaven and Earth" were all shot in Urho Ghost Castle.

When to visit

The peak of the tourist season runs from July through October, with some 10,00 daily visitors. Winds are especially strong from April through July.

The splendid forest scenery of neighboring Baiyanghe Canyon is at its peak in October. The terrain includes deserts, meadows, poplar forests and rivers.

How to get there

Take the direct bus from Urumqi to Karamay. The bus runs hourly and takes four hours. The cost is 91 yuan (US$11). Special buses run between Karamay City and Urho Ghost Castle every day.

Travel agencies offer one and two-day tours.

What to eat

Don't miss the local traditional food. The most popular items are cream tea, noodle soup, flavored buns, spice pot, blood sausage, wheat and corn pancakes and hand-pulled noodles.

You can find these local delicacies along Jiefang Road in Karamay and the Gourmet City on Hongqi Road in Karamay.

Editor: Wing

By: Source: Szdaily web edition
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