China Northern Xinjiang : Little Russian Town – Buerqin! 新疆布尔津

China Northern Xinjiang : Little Russian Town - Buerqin! 新疆布尔津

Xinjiang is huge and one may need months to explore this place. If you don’t know how big Xinjiang is,  just imagine you can actually put Texas, Nevada, California and Arizona  state in it.  Yes, that big!  It is also borders with 8 countries : Mongolia, Rusia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, pakistan and India (Kashmir).

We are actually on our way to Kanas Lake and the nearest town is Buerjin. Here are the things I learn.

Tight Measure in Xinjiang

After few days in Xinjiang, we are used to the standard protocol, that is to go down register our passport documents when we reach a different county/town. Luckily in Buerqin, we don’t have to go down but we have to wait in the bus, our guide helped us to bring down all the documents for registration in the police station.  In some town, we weren’t that lucky, we need to physically go down and go through security metal checks and thumb prints. Well, this is part of the life in Xinjiang and a norm here. After few days in Xinjiang, I am used to it now 🙂

China Northern Xinjiang : Little Russian Town - Buerqin! 新疆布尔津

China Northern Xinjiang : Little Russian Town - Buerqin! 新疆布尔津

Location of Buerqin

According to historical records, Buerqin belong to the Altay region and was called the western Mongolian steppe/grassland. The town of Buerqin is located at the intersection of the Irtysh River and the Burqin River. Due to the existence of the international trade along Irtysh River, this town has played the important role of a transit point for foreign trade in the Central Asia and Russia.

China Northern Xinjiang : Little Russian Town - Buerqin! 新疆布尔津

Little Russian Town

Buerjin is a very interesting city. It is super diverse with a lot of Mongols and Kazakhs. And aesthetically it looks almost more Russian than Chinese. I mean it is definitely Chinese, but there is a strong Russian influence with the colors and styles of buildings.

There are many Russians in Buerqin in the mid of 20th century due to the metal industry and at one point, the population fo Russians reached the peak record of 10.8%, that is to say one out of every nine people, you find a Russian. Hence the Russian density is enough to transform the town of Buerqin engraved with the imprint of Russian culture. That’s why you see the special landscape when you enter Buerqin town.

China Northern Xinjiang : Little Russian Town - Buerqin! 新疆布尔津

Minority Kazakh

For centuries the nomadic Kazakh people have been living in wood-framed felt tents, which are waterproof and easy to set up and dismantle (similar to Mongolian tent). There are about 1.5 million Kazakh in China, compared to 10 million in Kazakhstan. Kazakhs mostly can be found in Buerqin, area around the Altay Prefecture, Tianshan mountain as it is considered their homeland. Kazakhs are also Turkic ethnic, look similar to Uyghurs ethnic.

China Northern Xinjiang : Little Russian Town - Buerqin! 新疆布尔津

We were here in Buerqin city for our lunch. Check around the city, pretty quiet as the population is only 70,000 in the whole county.

China Northern Xinjiang : Little Russian Town - Buerqin! 新疆布尔津

Buerqin is also the place for you to top up your snacks and noodles in case you are not used to the food in Kanas Lake.  Things in Kanas Lake are expensive and the food offered there may not up to your expectation because it is in the mountain area and tourist spot.

China Northern Xinjiang : Little Russian Town - Buerqin! 新疆布尔津

This is where we have our lunch at Buerqin city.

China Northern Xinjiang : Little Russian Town - Buerqin! 新疆布尔津

Mantou / Steam bun

The steam bun is usually eaten as a staple food in northern parts of China where wheat, rather than rice, is grown. People in the southern part usually eat rice.

A popular Chinese legend relates that the name mantou actually originated from the homophonous word mantou, which literally means “barbarian’s head”/ 蠻頭.

China Northern Xinjiang : Little Russian Town - Buerqin! 新疆布尔津

Buerqin speciality “cold water fish” / 冷水鱼

When you travel in Xinjiang, the famous dishes such as Big Plate Chicken and BBQ skewers are very common. However when we talk about seafood in Xinjiang, “cold water fish” / 冷水鱼 is the one not to be missed. Since Buerqin is located along Irtysh River, this river is very famous for it “cold water fish” / 冷水鱼. Cold water fish only survive in very cold water so it is widely found in northern party of Xinjiang.

China Northern Xinjiang : Little Russian Town - Buerqin! 新疆布尔津

Our lunch usually have about 10 dishes so there are other dishes such as chicken herbal soup and plenty of vegetables.

China Northern Xinjiang : Little Russian Town - Buerqin! 新疆布尔津

China Northern Xinjiang : Little Russian Town - Buerqin! 新疆布尔津

Buerqin Night Market

There is a night market in Buerqin, and it is a great place to discover the Cold water fish in grilled style. People usually stopped over at Buerqin city and continue to Kanas Lake the next day. Some would prefer to stay in Buerqin because the accommodation in Kanas Lake is more expensive and the facilities aren’t as good compared to Buerqin. Buerqin is the nearest town to Kanas Lake, about 3 hours.

China Northern Xinjiang : Little Russian Town - Buerqin! 新疆布尔津

China Northern Xinjiang : Little Russian Town - Buerqin! 新疆布尔津

Petrol station in Buerqin Xinjiang

Even in the petrol station, security are tight!

All passengers in the bus needed to alight from the bus and not allowed to travel into the petrol station when our bus went in to refill the gas. There is a security scan and checks for every vehicle and only the driver can enter into the petrol station for refill.

China Northern Xinjiang : Little Russian Town - Buerqin! 新疆布尔津

The rest of us has to alight and walked pass the big petrol station and wait at the exit of the petrol station.

China Northern Xinjiang : Little Russian Town - Buerqin! 新疆布尔津

China Northern Xinjiang : Little Russian Town - Buerqin! 新疆布尔津

China Northern Xinjiang : Little Russian Town - Buerqin! 新疆布尔津

Buerqin River

Buerqin County actually got its name after River Buerqin.

China Northern Xinjiang : Little Russian Town - Buerqin! 新疆布尔津

Final thoughts of Buerqin town :

People usually stop one night at Buerqin town and make it to Kanas Lake the next morning because many years ago the hotel and resort facilities aren’t good enough in Kanas Lake.

When you entered the Buerqin town, you feel strong influence of Russian as the landscape here built in Russian style. Glad to learn about Buerqin county and how Russian used to occupied this land due to the metal industries in Northern Xinjiang China many decades ago.

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55 Replies to “China Northern Xinjiang : Little Russian Town – Buerqin! 新疆布尔津”

    1. Dear Nabanita,

      Xinjiang is so diverse as it is located in part of the Silk Road network linking Asia and Europe. The type of cultural fusion is one of the region’s signature attractions. Over here you really get to explore to many minority ethnic especially, Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Tajik (the first three are central Asia ) and Tatars (Russian) plus mongolian. If you observe deeper, most are nomadic which share similarities such as living in yurt/ the moving tent and also tend horses, cows, lamb. Most are “Nationality on horseback” (馬背上的民族) which means – half of their life spend on the back of the horses.

    1. Dear Laurie,
      Xinjiang is so huge and you need few months to explore. However Buerqin county aren’t have much to explore except the Russian vibes you see in the town area. There are also huge population of Russian descendants living in Buerqin now. Many were here due to the metal industry many decades ago.

  1. Why is security in Xinjiang so high? I have traveled to China before but never experience such level of security. It’s interesting to see how Buerqin looks like, it does indeed remind me with the towns at the border between Russia and Mongolia. The food you had looks lovely, I tried the cold water fish too during my trip to China and it was very good.

    1. Dear Joanna,
      Thanks for your comment. You are right, the security is not as tight compared to other region of China. Been to Guangxi, Yunnan, Beijing, Shanghai, Shaanxi (Xian), Guangzhou, Fujian provinces, nothing like this. This is totally different. Police are everywhere, about 500 m, you can see security officers or military officers. You know what, I think Xinjiang province is such an important province that is full of natural resources (one of the richest in China in term of oil, coal, etc) and the Chinese government can’t afford to lose this states. Xinjiang is also borders with 8 others countries, that’s plenty of threat if you look deeper.

    1. Dear Ladonna,
      The iconic dish in this area is the cold water fishes coming from the Irtysh river, flow through these three countries; Russia, China, and Kazakhstan. Beware of the tiny bones in the cold water fish.:)

  2. I love the pictures! This place looks like it would be an amazing experience to visit. Those steam buns are so big! All of the food looks delicious!

    1. Dear Serana,

      I know right, the steam buns are really big and people usually eat steam bum to replace rice. Northern Chinese eat more flour and southern Chinese eat more rice.

  3. I’ve been to Beijing for a conference and the security there was more lax. Probably becuase it’s a capital city and it doesn’t have a lot of entry points like Xinjiang.

    1. Dear Nessy,
      Glad to learn that you have been to Beijing. You are right, the security in Beijing aren’t as strict like Xinjiang. There are several reasons for tight security in Xinjiang and one of them was due to the 2009 riot happened in Urumqi. Since then Xinjiang has become a police state, you see military police almost every 500 m. It is also claimed as one of the most heavily policed places in the world. However, dont get intimidated by the military forces, there are there to protect the people so it is pretty safe to travel to Xinjiang. What you saw from the press about Xinjiang has been magnify and unreal. People here are friendly, especially the minorities. 🙂

    1. Dear Daisi,

      You are right, many people did not know this part of China called Xinjiang. Most foreigners would usually visit Beijing, the great wall, the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. There is saying, if you want to see hundred years of history in China, go Shanghai. If you want to see thousand years of China, go Beijing. And if you want to see the three thousand years of history go Xian – the old capital of China. Lol. Depending on which part of the history you like to see – hundred year? Thousand years or three thousand years 🙂

  4. Wow, I had never heard of this place, but now I need to read more about it. there are so many provinces in China, I would have never known.

    1. There are in total 23 provinces in China, 4 municipalities (Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Chongqing), 5 autonomous regions (Guangxi, Inner Mongolia, Tibet, Ningxia, Xinjiang). Xinjiang is one of the biggest province/autonomous region in China. I could only manage to explore part of Xinjiang and to the northern part. Didnt manage to visit the southern part of Xinjiang, which offer different landscape and culture.

  5. The place looks so amazing, I would love to visit there. The food looks great. Would love to visit Russian town when I visit Bureqin, It would be two countries on one Visa, lol.

    1. Dear Monidipa,
      You always make me giggle when I read about your comment. I have to agree with you. You got to taste some Russian vibe here in Buerqin County, Xinjiang China.

  6. This looks like such an interesting place. I had no idea there were places that overlapped with Russian and Chinese culture. And I had no idea you had to go register your passport in each town. How interesting!

    1. Dear Stephanie,

      Before I stepped foot in Xinjiang, I never knew about the security system is so tight and we have to register to the police station reaching each town. How bizzare and then this is part of the experience in Xinjiang. Lol. Seeing the military officer walking around on the street with their weapons and protector shields make me feel like in the movie.

    1. Dear Dalena,

      To be frank Xinjiang does not have much seafood, except the cold water fish because the place is so far away from the sea. Cold water fish are from the river not from the sea, that’s why it has so many bones. And the capital of Xinjiang, Urumqi is claimed to be the most remote city from any sea in the world. Seafood is a luxury in Xinjiang.

    1. Dear Carf,

      Yes, many would relate China to the Great wall. There is a wish for every Chinese to climb up Great wall and there is a Chinese saying – ‘Not reach Great Wall not good man.’ /不到长城非好汉。It means in order to be a good/complete man, one should see and climb up the Great Wall.

  7. Oh my, I had no idea of the tight security there. It must have been difficult but I think your experience sounds fun!

  8. I’ve never been to China but I would love to visit on e day. I think the culture in Buerqin is interesting because of the Russian influence.

  9. Xinjiang is beautiful. The colorful architecture help beautify the surrounding areas. I’d love to see it in person one day.

    1. Dear Pradnya,

      Buerqin county is famous for it metal industry few decades ago and many Russian has moved here to help to export the metals back to Russia. The place is also get it fame from the river Irtysh which is the only river in China that flow into the artic ocean.

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