I'm not really sure why but I didn't take a lot of pictures in North West China. Maybe it was because everything was covered with a half-inch thick layer of dust. Maybe it was because the riding was so uninspiring. Maybe it was because after coming down from the Pamirs the trip had entered its denouement phase. Or maybe because I didn't feel like a tourist here; the sights, sounds and smells were all strangely familiar.
Eventually we made it to Turpan, one of the lowest places on earth at ~ -150m below sea level. Remarkably not more than 7-days previously we were traveling over some of the highest navigable road passes in the world in excess of 4500m above sea level. The population of the city pretty much disappears during the day due to the heat but they come out at night.
One of the unique things here is that during the summer most everyone sleeps on the roof. Looking out the window of the hotel there are large 4-poster beds on every roof and in the morning you can literally watch the city wake up.
On the morning of the rest day we had an opportunity to visit the ruins of the capital city of an ancient civilization and some buddhist caves on the outskirts of town.
I was running low of sunscreen and braved the mid-day heat after the morning tour to restock my supply. I eventually found a supermarket that looked to have the right assortment of associated sundries so I made an enquiry as best I could to the shop girl. I guess I managed to convey the right information as she happily dragged me to the correct shelf. When I pulled out my depleted bottle of 60 SPF hoping to find something stronger than the 30 SPF on the shelf she disappeared around a corner, returning with a smile and an umbrella.