Let me take you to a place set back over a thousand years. A place with dusty roads and homes made of clay. A place where time doesn’t matter, and there is no place to be. A place where the trickling river feeds the valley of agriculture. A place where the green vineyards break up the deep reds of flaming rocks. A place where you feel like bible stories took place. A place that feels it should be outdated and antiquated, yet life goes on as usual. If you were anywhere in America, you would think you were on a movie set, or tourist old town, but this is real. In Tuyuk Village this is how people have lived for hundreds of years and where they are content to keep living their normal lives.
We arrived at 2 in the afternoon (12 Uyghur time) and there is not a sign of life. Only the sight of almost 50 motor bikes with trailers parked in front of the Mosque. It was Friday noon prayer here and that meant the whole village was shut down and everyone congregated at the mosque. Its 100 degrees and I can’t blame everyone for taking time off of work, putting on long flowing white robes and heading inside to the shade of the building for a while. It was almost suicide to be walking around in the stark heat. Yet there was so much to be seen. So many back alleys, and old dwellings, and secret passageways. They had to be explored in a place that is 100% foreign to us, and at the same time 100% normal to the residents of this uniquely quaint town.
In the shade of the trees lining the vineyard, the temperature drops 30 degrees. Inside the dark, sturdy homes the temperature is dropped even more. The luscious trees are filled with bright purple and white mulberries that the residents pick to juice and see to passersby. About half of the homes appear to be abandoned with no sign of life or up keep, taking us to many dead ends. I can’t help but think this little village in the valley would make the ultimate playing field for a hide and seek match. Up one side of the valley lies the graveyard with domed tombs commemorating the deceased. As we try to walk up the stairs to the sacred tombs, we are stopped as we are not of their religion and can’t see such a holy site. However just below the tombs is a very out of place, architecturally, restaurant with lounge chairs overlooking the beautiful valley. With such a beautiful view and scorching heat in the sun, it is well worth enjoying this view with a fresh squeezed mulberry juice and crispy naan.
Visiting this village was a magical step back into old times. I felt as if I were on streets that would have been familiar to the streets Jesus would have strode. Brown, dusty roads in a valley amidst beautiful sloping vineyards.
-This beautiful oasis is about 70 km away from Turpan. Only one bus runs each day from Turpan to the village at 1 pm, however no return trip. The bus will cost 20 RMB but with no likely prospect of getting home, I would recommend hiring a private driver for about 50 RMB roundtrip that will allow you to travel on your own schedule and guarantee you a ride home. Entrance to the village is 30 RMB.