Cycling The Silk Road In China – The Grape Valley in Turpan
A most charming place to visit in Turpan, (also called Tulufan) is the Grape Valley.
Located only a short distance from the center of the city of Turpan, Grape Valley, is a place where gaped are grown commercially and local people live in, but it require an admission fee to get into.
The main street of Grape Valley, are lined with traditional adobe earth homes.
Because of the visibility to tourist, most of the adobe homes are beautifully kept.
The entrance doors are all hand painted with scenes of the valley, of fruit and flowers, and they add a charm to the place.
The streets are lined with grape vines and old mulberry trees, which are ripe now.
As we walked to photograph the beautiful adobe homes, the colorful doors and the grape vines, I could not restrain myself from picking and munching on the ripe mulberries everywhere.
I put them in my mouth unwashed, as the juice stained my fingers…
Behind the main entrance door to the houses, there is usually a courtyard and in it, there is a large platform wooden bed covered with a silk rug.
On the bed, the family rests, sleeps or take naps, eats, or prepare ingredients for their meal, like peel garlic, or cut long beans.
We saw mothers and grandmothers rock little gargling babies to sleep, play with their kids, or take long mid day naps.
These divan beds, are also a common way to seat diners in restaurants, and I have seen them sold around Turpan, in extra large sizes, that can sit a group of a dozen people.
On the hills surrounding the area, it is common to see “Grapes Drying Houses”.
These are adobe structure that their walls are done with holes, to allow ventilation from all sides.
They place the grapes in them and the dry heat of the desert, dry the grapes into wonderfully tasty raisins.
There are more than a hundred different kinds of raisins in Turpan.
We tasted a few and bough some different kinds, as a healthy snack.
I also bough some dry mulberries.
Even the graves are done with adobe earth, and with the passing years, the adobe hardens and becomes one with the surrounding rocks.
Turpan was the first region in China to grow grapes, as early as the Tang Dynasty.
The valley is a world of green vines and trees, filled with irrigation canals.
The water is channeled into the Turpan area, via a massively long irrigation system that starts in the Tian Shan mountain range, many hundreds of kilometers away.
The water from these tall mountains, run by gravity into Turpan, which is below sea level.
Turpan is the second lowest place on earth, after the Dead Sea in Israel.
In this fertile valley, they grow mulberry, peach, apricot, apple, pomegranate, pear, fig, walnut, elm, poplar and willow.
Everywhere we walked, we saw a kind of green grapes, which are called “Mare Nipples”, because of their elongated shape, resembling a Mare’s nipple.
It is a most picturesque area with a striking visual contrast between the dry desert and adobe earth homes, to the large area of growing green grape vines.