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 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is where we have our lunch at Buerqin city.
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.
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.
Our lunch usually have about 10 dishes so there are other dishes such as chicken herbal soup and plenty of vegetables.
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.
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.
Buerqin County actually got its name after River Buerqin.
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.