We started the day again with another interesting (awful) breakfast. Even though I eat everything I still would like to have some tea to drink. That was not really possible at this place, so after a couple of peanuts and cooked zucchini we started our drive back to Tuyuq again. There was still some sightseeing to do around the area even though after the sandstorm last night everything was bathed in a hazy light. While driving to Tuyuk I noticed lots of vineyards everywhere and huge brick houses along the way. Omar, a grape farmer himself, told us that the region is famous for its grapes (no wine produced here by the muslim population) and these grapes are dried by air in long houses for a minimum of 30 days. In this way they keep the color and are not prepared with chemicals.
First off we watched the Flaming Mountains with the Thousand Buddha caves. All along the way to Tuyuk village we could see these strange red mountain formations. Their name comes from the color (I also think they do look like flames) and that summer temperatures which can be around 50ºC here they look as if they flare. As great as they were from the car, they looked way better when we stopped. Not only did we see the mountains close up but also tiny little caves dotted all over the mountain. We were not allowed to visit the caves, apparently because they are closed off for tourists.
We parked at the main parking in Tuyuk, paid our entrance fee in the village and started walking around. Tuyuk village is kept in the original style of the Uyghur which is great for tourists but inconvenient for the locals. Since they are not allowed to modernize anything, they just abandon their houses and leave for the new settlement near the village. As you can see the whole place has a deserted feeling to it although some families still live there.
We bought some bread right out of the oven and could see how the oven works. Once it is hot enough the inside is doused with water so that the bread sticks to the sides. In this way the bread can then easily be removed again while not falling off during the baking process.
I also bought some raisins since the area is famous for it at a small market where we tried mulberry juice (sticky sweet and therefore cloying up your insides) and fresh mulberries. So yummy.
What a shame that we had the sandstorm the night before. This area must be really impressive when the sky is blue and the colors are clashing. We had the sand in the air all day and the sun was behind a milky screen. Still the village was one of the few places where we could get an impression of the original Uyghur traditions. In most other places around the Silk Road it’s lost forever. Yours, Pollybert