Ghost City in China Vs Ghost Town in US
Ghost City in Xinjiang is different from the Ghost Town in the western country such as the Ghost Town I went last winter in California, Calico Ghost Town. Calico Ghost Town is an abandoned old mining town. The recent Ghost City which I explored is situated 100 km away from Karamay City / 克拉玛依, Xinjiang, northwest China. It is named after “Ghost City” due to frequent strong winds whistle and howl plus the flying sand create the mysterious yardang landform and caused various formations. The word ‘yardang’ itself is of Turkic origin, meaning – steep bank, it is formed by the wind erosion. In Xinjiang & Gansu, you get to see a lot of yardang landform.
There are internal buses which look like train to bring you around this huge area. The small train will only stop at three attractions. During the ride, the train may slow down a little when it is closer to some interesting landform for everyone to take picture. There is no window in the train so it is very good to shoot picture from the small train. In the train you are able to listen to the music and the explanation in Chinese. ( I can’t recall if there is any English explanation)
Some look like animal, seal, lion etc.
Use your imagination
You need to use your imagination to see the landform here, some look like the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, some look like pyramid of Egypt, Cambodia Angkor Wat, eagle spreading its wings etc.
China’s Three Most Beautiful Yadang
The landform here was selected as the “China’s three most beautiful Yadang” by the “National Beauty China” campaign of China National Geographic.
Visiting Kazakh Yurt / Tent
There is a Kazakh yurt at the first stop when I was there. Don’t hesitate to pop in to have a look and say hi to the people inside the yurt. I believe they are the camels owners, setting a yurt to stay away from the hot sun.
Strong Sunshine & Wind
There is a strong sunshine near Karamay, and the area is large. It is best to prepare sunscreen and sand proof equipment such as sunglasses, headscarves and sun hats. And the climate here is dry, so you need to prepare enough drinking water.
Extreme Driving in Ghost City
Several Chinese famous movies such as “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, “The Seven Swords Under the Heaven”, “The Visitors on the Iceberg” were shot here.
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
About 1 billion years ago, during the Cretaceous period, this place was a huge freshwater lake and beside the lake was grow with lush vegetation. The water inhabited the different type of dinosaur, such as stegosaurus, plesiosaur, dinosaur, Junggar pterosaur and others. This place use to be a paradise for these animals but after the big earthquake, the lake here has become a land in geology term is called “Gobi Terrace”
The Dinosaur Valley is the final attraction. The dinosaurs here aren’t real dinosaur but it is really a dinosaur valley billion years ago.
Karamay Oil Field
Opposite of the Ghost City, you can see the largest oil fields in China, called Karamay Oilfield. You see hundreds of jumpjack at the oil field. Xinjiang is a place full of oil and other mineral resources, I just seen the coal factory past few days and glad to see the Karamay Oilfield and their jumpjacks jumping up and down. What a stunning landscape.
Karamay in Uyghur mean “black oil”, it is the wealthiest city in China, obviously the wealth is generated from the oil drilling.
Final thoughts :
There are plenty of yardang landform caused by the wind and sand storm in Xinjiang and Urho Ghost City is one of them. It get more famous after few Chinese movies was shot here, one of them is “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon”. Opposit the Urho Ghost City you also get to see the Karamay Oilfield, an amazing landscape with hundreds of jumpjack jumping up and down, working very hard for oil drilling. Glad to witness how the oilfield looks like in Karamay, also one of the wealthiest city in China.