When you bid farewell to Urumqi City and drive eastward for about 40km, you are well on the State Highway No. 312. While the wheels spin, you can take your time and enjoy a grand view of barren desert which stretches for hundreds of miles. You can also see a hundred-plus wind-powered generators standing in the desert.
The site is Asia’s largest wind power plant, Chaiwobao Wind Power Station. While the journey continues and you look out from the car, you cannot help extolling the fantastic phenomenon that oasis lies just beside desert. The lively trees on both sides of the road present a sharp contrast to the listless stones lying on the desert. Overhead, the sun is shining tirelessly and the air becomes scorching hot. While the heat creeps into the car, you feel dry and hot and begin to miss the air conditioning of the modern metropolis.
Located at the crossroads of Lanzhou-Xinjiang Railway and Gansu-Xinjiang Highway, Hami is the most important northern passage to the Silk Road. Thus it is called the “East Gate of Xinjiang”.
The lowest-lying place: Turpan in Uyghur language means”the lowest place”. Among its 69,700 sq km, about 4,000 sq km are below sea level. Sitting at an elevation of 154 meter below sea level, the Ayding kol Lake is the second lowest-lying lake in the world, next only to the Dead sea(-392 meters) in Jordan.
Hot & Dry: Turpan is famous for its hot and dry climate. Since the basin accumulates heat, it is unusually hot. At the heigght of summer, the temprature was once measured at 49.6C and a highest recorded temprature of the earth’s surface is 82.3C. The temperatures for more than a hundred therefore you don’t feel muggy though the weather is quite hot. The annual precipitation is only 16.75mm. With an average of 268 frostless days through the whole year, the place enjoys long sunlight hours. All these factors contribute to a natural hot-house here, a favourable environment for the growth of fruits and melons.
Strong wind: Owing to the special terrain, there is a sharp contrast beween the inner and outer air pressures of the Basin. The rapid movement of the current causes strong winds, which are measured above scale 8 for about 30 to 40 days throughout the year. The strongest wind recorded was measured at scale 12; the place is called “wind depot” accordingly. It is obvious that wind is the most precious resource in the area.
Turpan District covers Turpan City, Toksun County and Shanshan County. Located in the center of the Basin, Turpan City covers an area of 16,000 sq km and holds a population of 240,000. It was called “the flaming district” in ancient times.