9.6 million square kilometres of land. 3 million square kilometres of sea.
How much of China have you seen?
What kind of China have you seen?
Spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Every season gives you a different perspective.
Icebergs and deserts co-exist on this land.
Welcome aboard Aerial China.
Today our destination is the Tian Shan in Xinjiang.
Xinjiang is the province with the largest land area in China, the size of 101 cities of Beijing.
Kunlun Mountains in the south, Altai Mountains in the north, the Tian Shan in the middle.
The Tarim Basin and the Jungar Basin are nestled within.
We’ll take off from the Tengger Peak, pay a visit to the Bogda Peak, stop over at the Heavenly Lake, and then head for the Bayanbulak Grassland.
Tian Shan means “the heavenly mountain”.
It’s a mountain range that stretches on for 2,500 km over 4 countries.
Xinjiang is located in an arid area of Eurasia.
There are close to ten thousand glaciers from Tian Shan. They act as a giant reservoir.
Over 370 rivers originate from here, along with numerous lakes.
Water has brought life to this land and changed its fate.
The Tengger Peak stands at 4,562 metres above sea level.
Many mountaineers start their journey here.
Their destination is the Bogda Peak 135 km away.
Among mountains higher than 5,000 metres, the Bogda Peak is ranked as the second hardest peak to scale.
To protect the glaciers, the peak has been closed off to the public.
Go around to the north of the peak, and you can see the Heavenly Lake.
The lake is 1,900 metres above sea level.
Its water comes from rainfall and icemelt from Tian Shan.
As we fly to the middle of the Tian Shan, we see a sea of green.
The Bayanbulak Grassland is the second largest grassland in China, after the Hulunbuir Grassland.
This pretty ribbon meandering through the grassland is the Kaidu River.
It’s more than 500 km long, with over 10,000 bends.
At sunset, if you know how to pick the best spots, you can see nine reflections of the sun at the same time.
There’s a swan nature reserve here. Over a 100 baby swans are hatched this year.
A swan family. (Swans mate for life, though sometimes they also “divorce”.)
The baby swans have to learn how to fly fast, so they can be ready for the migration in the coming winter.
Okay, let’s move on. Too many places to see. We’ll go to Urumqi, Shihezi, and then the Anjihai Canyon.
Urumqi is the capital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
It’s a metropolis far away from the ocean. The nearest sea is about 2,000 km away.
But it’s only about 100 km away from the nearest glacier.
Xinjiang International Grand Bazaar, the largest bazaar in the country.
(They say you can find everything here, except your parents. What does that mean? You’ll have to ask the locals.)
This quilt art-like painting is Shihezi City.
These remind me of the lawn mowers in Plants vs Zombies.
Instead of zombies, they are mowing down cotton. It’s harvest season in September.
Cotton is white, right?
True, most of the time. But there are also naturally colourful varieties, like the brown cotton here.
(I’m not going to tell you that the main ingredient for making Chinese yuan paper currency comes from cotton.)
The city of Shihezi alone produces over 9,000 truckloads of cotton each year.
Tomatoes are relatively new to Xinjiang, having been introduced here only a few decades ago.
Xinjiang enjoys over 2,500 hours of sunlight each year. That’s about an average 6.8 hours each day. Ideal for sun-loving crops like tomatoes.
The amount of tomatoes processed in Xinjiang ranks the third largest in the world, after the US and Italy. One out of every four bottles of ketchup comes from here.
(Dave, put down the French fries!)
Wave to the flag.
Made of chilli peppers.
Did you know that chilli peppers can be made into lipsticks?
(Instead of Rouge Dior, try on this piece of chilli pepper.)
The Anjihai Canyon.
Water mixes sandstones and mudstones, creating an abstract landscape painting.
(Eugene, there’s a zoom function on your camera. You don’t have to lean your body out of the chopper for a close-up.)
Okay, I know your phones and cameras are running low on battery. Let’s head back to the yurt. We’ll continue the tour tomorrow.