Vast Wasteland of the Kumtag Desert
Not quite your average tourist spot – we didn’t need to pay to enter this natural environment. It is considered a vast wasteland however, threatening to consume and absorb any productive land surrounding it.
Temporary Footprints in the Sand
The smooth textures of the shifting sand dunes have been temporarily disrupted by our clumsy footprints.
An Endless Landscape of Silence
Nothing but tall, silent sand dunes greeted us upon arrival at Kumtag desert. It was surreal to be the only humans there, as we walked towards nowhere for hours in the endless sands. Wearing a cap makes a huge difference in an open environment as such, and we were scorched despite slathering on plenty of sunblock. Ablajan of course, was used to the punishing heat.
The Rocky Front of the Kumtag Desert
A little lizard blending into the rocky start of the Kumtag desert, where everything begins to meld into an earthen drab.
Toyuk Buddha Caves
Lesser known buddhist caves carved into the mountains centuries ago, as yet unopened for tourist visits.
The Traditional Uygur Village of Toyuk
Toyuk village is in fact, an actual community of Uygur people who still live in their traditional mud-brick dwellings. I was told that the people were not quite happy when the government decided to charge outsiders an entry fee, for even friends had trouble visiting then.
On the Streets of Toyuk Village
Strolling along the streets of Toyuk village under a clear blue sky, and watching the life of the local people go by.
The Centrepiece Mosque of Toyuk Village
Bricks are laid out under the sun, waiting to be formed into the next structure. The mosque stands out, visible from many parts of the village.
Resting in the Cool Shade
Water gourds hang from trees in the cool shade.
A Friendly Uygur Welcome to Toyuk Village
Visiting a local family residing in the village, who welcomed us into their abode with dried bread, raisins and friendly smiles. Here the mother is preparing a home-made meal of pulled noodles, while her young toddler entertains herself in the corner.
An Uygur boy wolfing down his lunch, oblivious to everyone around him.
The Front of the Mosque at Tuyok Village
Traditional Uygur mosque architecture, in pastel blue and green shades with tasteful curves and lines.
The Four Minarets of the Mosque at Tuyok Village
The four minarets of the mosque at Tuyok stand tall against the clear blue sky, their tips adorned with the crescent moon symbolic of Islam.