September 9, 2004

Silk Road - Xinjiang Turfan, Toyoq Valley in the Flaming Mountain

After being the tourist over Turfan, we read about a place where the "house door" is colourful and dated back to 500 year ago!  Without a doubt, we got up early the next morning, went to the bus station, after numerous enquiries, we finally got one lady reluctantly told us about the bus we should take with the when and how to go to Toyoq Valley.  At first, I was took back by all this reluctancy as Uyghur has been so friendly and helpful. Got the ticket, went on the bus, I started to understand the reason after the bus left Turfan.  The journey is into the Flamming Mountain, probably without a single soul  in the middle of the desert. Also, it is one of those place where if you miss the bus back, there is no where to stay. 
After an hour into the journey, we saw the sign to get off the bus. The junction is to an oasis village along the stretch of road. There is no modernity, just a normal road. But look deeper, we saw the amazing water irrigation syetem that keep this oasis going.

Toyoq Valley is a grapevine oasis. The main reason Turfan region can have such a good growth of grape thanks to the great development of the water irrigation system called Karez Well. The Karez Well system channeled water underground from the mountain to the vineyard, defining the desert hot dry weather making Turfan a perfect place to grow grape.
As we walked (we walked for closed to 6 hours that day to cover the whole oasis grapevine village), we saw this lady in red with the most resilence to maintain her feminine. I am amazed by her insistent to wear a heel in this road condition. I was wearing a pair of Adidas walker and my ankle was aching.

All villagers here cultivate grapes, indirectly, raisin is a main product.  Most village home is the flat top style with a roof that built to dry grape for raisin. The roof top is built with hole for airing the grape. It looks like a square box and the brick is made of mud from the ricer bed.

The grape is harvest at the end of Auguest through October before the snow came.  The grape will be hanged on branches that prepared for drying to raisins.

In Turfan regions, there are many such oasis cultivating grapes.  The valley is normally dark green when it contrast with the red earth and the desert.


  1. So glad you are updating your blog. I am amazed that in this desert region they manage to grow grapes! And I love the photo of the lady in her red dress and heels :D

    1. Today is good, I am in the mood to write more.
      Jean, I have to confess here that those beautiful pictures were taken by Ming though it is a share journey.
      Both of us have the same thought same as you when we saw that lady walking, it amazed me!