Our life in Urumqi

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Flowers in the desert… thank God it’s spring!

The thing I was most scared of, before moving out here to the middle of bum-fuck-nowhere was not the isolation, the language barrier, or the violent riots three years ago that so damaged the reputation of this region (yes we feel safe and, oddly, I’ve never had anyone warm me against going to London…)

No, what scared this warm-weather-girl were the climate charts… read ‘em and weep. I did! This is a city at high altitude, and its claim to fame is that it’s the most inland city on the planet. Yeah, I bet you’re jealous of us now!


What the hell… part 2

3. Manners

It’s not that mainland Chinese are impolite it’s just that… okay, this one is hard to explain. For example, roughly shoving someone out of the way on public transport or poking somebody in the kidneys is entirely acceptable and the locals don’t bat an eyelid. This drives me crazy and I’m not the only one.

One of the most entertaining sights I’ve seen here in Urumqi was a friendly older American man we’ve bumped into on a few occasions: on this occasion he was in full flight at the doors on a bus, turning in small circles, waving his finger and shouting “don’t push me, don’t push me, no pushing, don’t you dare push me” at bemused Chinese, who were no doubt wondering why the crazy laowai wasn’t going to let them off at their stop. Nothing shouts ‘time for a holiday’ like the desire to take on all one billion Chinese over the shoving issue!



Welcome to my blog; three years and nine countries after I first decided to set it up…

I live in Urumqi, Xinjiang, far north-west China. Take a second to get a mental image of that. You might need to close your eyes and try to recall a detailed world map. Far. North. West. China. Nowhere near Beijing or Shanghai, and definitely not a tourist trap. The China cliches do not apply here, my friends. There’s no old people in weird wicker hats. There’s no terraced rice paddies here and there’s not even that much rice, comparatively speaking. There are few grand monuments, a distinct lack of cute stone villages and and no serene, flowing rivers to conjure up romantic images of yester-year.

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