Today we are going to explore the Flaming Mountains, the Grape Valley, the Pamir Mountains, Shipton’s Arch, and Kashgar.

The Flaming Mountains.

Yes, this is the mountain described in Journey to the West, where the Monkey King had to borrow a fan from Princess Iron Fan to put out the flames. But she gave him a fake fan, and he almost became a roasted Monkey King.

Though there are no open flames or Monkey King in reality, this mountain is still the hottest spot in China, with temperature often reaching into over 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit).

The surface temperature can exceed 70 degree Celsius.

You can cook scrambled eggs by simply tossing one onto the ground.

I’m not joking. It has actually been done.

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This giant thermometer monitors the temperature there in real time.

It’s at the bottom of the Turpan Basin. Heat gets trapped here and has nowhere to go.

If you are brave enough to climb over the Flaming Mountains, you’ll be rewarded with the sight of a valley full of grapes.

Hence its name—Grape Valley.

Turpan grapes are the sweetest.

The grapes live in special houses with holes in the wall, to allow air to circulate without exposing the grapes to direct sunlight.

At the Grape Festival held in 2018, over 220 varieties of grapes were exhibited and consumed.

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The Pamir Mountains is 1,300 km away from the Grape Valley.

Here you can enjoy the polar opposite of the Flaming Mountains. Temperature here can reach minus 50 degrees Celsius.

What that kind of temperature means:

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The Muztagata Peak is 7,509 metres high.

Its gentle western slope makes it one of the easier 7,000 peaks to climb.

Shipton’s Arch.

Its Chinese name literally translates into Heavenly Gate.

Sitting on a 3,000-metre mountain, this is probably the world’s tallest natural arch.

Strong, dry winds have carved out a series of deep canyons and steep cliffs, presenting a formidable challenge for climbers.

It was named after an English explorer, Eric Shipton, who tried and failed to reach the arch three times.

Its height is measured to be 457 metres, overshadowing the Empire State Building.

The city of Kashgar.

It served as an important trading post on the Silk Road, and continues to be a vital economic hub. It was designated the sixth Special Economic Zone of China in 2010.

Its Sunday market is a sight to behold, as thousands of farmers from nearby towns and villages flock to the city to trade livestock and crops.

The Id Kah Mosque sits at the centre of Kashgar. It’s also the largest mosque in China.

Tens of thousands of worshippers gather here on Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr.

Buildings old and new co-exist in the city.

Of course, once we are in Kashgar, we can’t leave without trying the lamb soup, yogurt, pomegranates, red dates, grilled lamb hooves . . .

But beware, sometimes the food fights back . . .

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