Welcome to the Xinjiang Uygur
Autonomous Region. Situated in the heartland of the Euro-Asian
continent, this region is characterized by large expanses of territory,
numerous ancient cultural and scenic spots, and a multitude of
ethnic people of nationalities as well as a variety of interesting
social customs. But today, I will show you around the Heavenly
Lake that is cuddled in the Tianshan Moun-tains.Situated on the
slope of Mount Bogda, 110 kilometers to the east of Urumqi, the
capital city of the Region, the Heavenly Lake is less than a three
hour drive from Urumqi.
The Tianshan Mountains cover a
vast expanse of hilly areas. They are 1,700 kilometers in length and
300 kilometers in width, roughly one quarter of the whole territory
of this northwestern autonomous region. These east-west mountains originate
from the Pamirs and lie in the center of Xinjiang, dividing the territory
into two, with two basins of Tarim and Junggur on each side. Characterized
by steepness and natural grandeur, this huge group of mountains is widely
seen as the symbol of Xinjiang.The Tianshan Mountains were first mentioned
in the chronological works of the Warring States Period. In later dynasties,
various names were applied to them. In a time span of over 2,000 years,
this group of steep and snaking mountains and peaks have witnessed a
large number of historical events, including various exchanges between
China's central government and its neighboring countries in the west.
They also bear testimony to the emerging of the world-famous Silk Road.Now
we arrive at the foot of the famous natural wonderwork.Featuring snow
and ice-covered hills, valleys, glaciers, luxuriant vegetation and fresh
open air, the' Tianshan Mountains stand more than 4,000 meters above
sea level. They are topped by Mount Bogda, which is 5,445 meters high
and looks as if it were a natural guard for the capital city of Urumqi.
The snow and ice serve as a natural reservoir that nurture the farming
of the autonomous region. Owing to this, local farmers in the region
successfully grow wheat, regardless that the average rainfall is less
than 150 millimeters. Water found in the glaciers is used for wine brewing
and is also packaged as mineral water for drink.The climate of the Tianshan
Mountains is characterized by a variety of types. With the ascending
topography, the temperature decreases and a clearcut zoning of vegeration
appears. In areas where the altitude is 1,600 meters below the sea level,
a steppe type prevails. In areas where the altitude is between 1,600
and 2,800 meters, a combined climate type of steppe and forest dominates.
In areas that stand 2,800 and 4,000 meters above sea level, an alpine-meadow
climate exists.These mountains are also rich in forest resources. This
area boasts two million hectares of forested land and more than 100
million cubic meters of timber. Dragon spruce is the dominant species.Siberian
larch, birch and other rare trees grow as well.Luxuriant vegetation
can be found in the valleys deep in the mountains. As many as 60 species
of grass, including medicinal herbs, grow in vast expanses. Droves of
wild animals including Mongolian gazelles and red deer roam around.
Brown bears, wild hogs, roe deer, argali, snow leopards, lynxs and swans
can also be found.Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region also serves as a
home to people of 47 ethnic groups such as Uygur, Kazak and Mogolian.
The Kazak people mainly live in the picturesque tourist area of Heavenly
Lake. Living a nomadic life, the Kazak herdsman dwell in white colored
yurts. This way of life was first mentioned in a poem written in the
Han Dynasty, and this show that the Kazaks have led this life for at
least 2,000 years. A typical yurt is composed of wall-like felt, supporting
poles, ceilings, felt rug and the door, which is easy to assemble and
dismantle. It can shield against heat in the daylight and chill at night.
There is an opening of 0.33 meters in diameter on the ceiling to let
in the light.Now let's pay a visit to the yurt. The Kazaks are easy
to tell from the costumes they wear. A typical Kazak girl or young women
puts on a long and pleated dress that has floral designs on the sleeves.On
the outside she dons a leather robe buttoning down the front, and a
multi-colored cone-shaped headgear that is decorated with owl plumage.
A young man wears a white-colored and lace-trimmed cotton shirt inside
and leather robe outside. Men also wear a wide and long cotton belt
around their waists to shield from wind. They invariably carry with
them a knife on the right side of the belt. The majority of costumes
are homemade by themselves.The Kazaks are Moslems. Pork is a strict
taboo. The aged people will be given priority when entering the yurt;
visitors are supposed to sit on the rug instead of the host's bed. Visitors
should accept the host's treat even if they do not feel like food or
drink. They should wash their hands before and after the meal.Tea with
milk is an everyday drink that is widely enjoyed by the Kazaks, It is
made of brick tea, fresh milk and salt. The drink contains aromatic
oil that helps in digestion and refreshing. Kazaks enjoy a fermented
and baked flour pancake as their staple food. Known as "nang,"
this food is prepared in a round frying pan. Specially fried rice is
also widely enjoyed by the Kazak people. It is prepared with fresh mutton,
carrot, onion, vegetable oil, lamb oil and rice. Many herdsmen also
enjoy boiled mutton. This course is served with a knife, and the guest
can help himself with his own hands as well. Proceeding forward again,
we will finally arrive at the Heavenly Lake. The first sight of the
wonder is the Stone Entrance, or one of the eight wonders of the Heavenly
Lake tourist area. This scene features precipitous cliffs and deep gorges
with roaring waters flowing between.On the west, the visitors will see
a pool of clear and tranquil water, which is known as Western Minor
Heavenly Lake. Termed as Dragon's Pool Reflecting the Bright Moon, it
is one of the eight wonders in this area.Proceeding along the zigzagging
path, we will at last reach the lake proper. The Heavenly Lake is shaped
like a crescent. It is 3,400 meters long and 1,500 meters wide, and
covers a space of 4.9 square kilometers. Standing 1,980 meters above
sea level, this lake is 40 meters deep on average, with the deepest
reaching 105 meters.The Heavenly Lake is a moraine by nature. Splendid
peaks andglaciers were developed some 200,000 years ago. As a result
of prolonged scouring and wearing off of the glaciers, a gigantic pit
was formed. Later, the climate turned warmer, glaciers receded and a
large amount of gravel accumulated, resulting in huge terminal moraines.
In the end, the Heavenly lake took shape. Since remote times, quite
a few of myths and legends circulated concerning the beautiful scenery.
Standing by the clear lake, visitors can admire another three wonders
of the area. On the northern bank of the lake stands an old elm, which
is the only tree by the water. It is termed the "Magic Needle that
Tranquilizes the Ocean." On the southeast, people will see the
snow-covered Mount Bogda. In the bright sunlight, the three main peaks
shine and glisten. This scene is known as "Appreciating Snow on
the Southern Hills." In addition, people can also see the sunrise
amidst vapors and mists. This is known as "First Rays on Seas of
Mountains." Visitors can also enjoy different yet beautiful views
in the afternoon and at dusk. Proceeding further westward, there stand
three huge rocks in deep valleys some 4,000 meters away. These rocks
are 2,718 metersabove the sea level and resemble three candles in a
row, hence the name of "Three Stones that Support the Sky."
In the olden times, the Taoist priests that lived in the mountains used
to hang lamps atop the huge stones as a sign of peace and stability.
Therefore, these stones are also known as the "Lamppost Hills."Still,
there is one more scene known as "Viewing Pines on theWestern Slope."
Visitors can enjoy the beautiful forests of countless dragon spruces.
Wild mushrooms can also be gathered in the woods. At last, in the downstream
of the Heavenly Lake, there is a running and roaring cataract that is
known as "Soaring Cataract and Suspending Fountains." The
pool at the foot of the cataract is known as Eastern Minor Heavenly
Lake. Now I'd like to tell you something more about the lifestyle of
the Kazaks. The Kazaks are music lovers, and fine horses and songs are
likened as wings for them. Many of them pluck "dongbula,"
a string instrument, and sing songs on horseback. There are lyricists
who sing folk songs and ballads for a living. On each summer, a number
of competitions are held and rewards are offered for prize-winning lyricists.
Each competition will last about seven to ten days. The Kazaks are also
fond of a dynamic dance that is rich in nomadic characteristics. They
usually dance to the accompaniment of dongbulas. Corban and Rozah are
the most important eventful festivals for the Kazaks. On these occasions
they are duty-bound to pay visits to friends and relatives. What is
more, on each Spring Equinox, the Kazak people celebrate it as their
New Year's Day. A special meal that is a blend of mutton, cheese and
cereal will be prepared. The Kazaks, both men and women, are good horse
riders. On major festivals a variety of equestrian competitions are
held. Marks manship and wrestling contests that are carried out on horseback
are also held. With this our visit to the Heavenly Lake and the accompanying
tourist wonders draws to a conclusion. I hope this will leave you with
a rewarding and lasting impression. Thank you all.