The same snowstorm that turned Almaty into a winter wonderland also hit Urumqi, only much harder. It feels kind of crazy to be back in the same city where we began this trip six weeks ago… but it sure does look different now.
Every once in a while something out of the blue deals you a blow that you never saw coming. That’s what happened to Urumqi yesterday. The leaves on the trees haven’t even changed colour, let alone fallen off. The heavy snow just kept falling and all that weight was just too much for the delicate branches. Tree limbs buckled and snapped all over the city. Some snagged power lines, pulling them down too.
The city rallied and got to work on cleaning up the mess as quickly as possible.
Urumqi can get extremely cold in winter (-42C!) and swelteringly hot in summer. Now at the end of October it has decided to swing back to hot and by the end of the day nearly all the snow has melted and you can barely tell there was such an unexpected storm last night. Except for all the fallen branches.
Actually, we’re very fortunate. Urumqi is notable for being one of the 10 worst cities in the world for air pollution. Its decrepit coal power plants spew out sulfurous gas, turning the air an acrid, acidic grey. All this snow has purified the air, revealing what a beautiful city Urumqi can be. What a wonderful end to a great trip with a good friend.
Thanks, Charles, for being my model for all the photos in this post. You’re wonderfully patient. And thanks especially for inviting me on this trip through so many special places. Looking forward to the next one!