Turpan is a 3 hour drive east of Urumqi and the second lowest place on earth below sea level. I find it one of the most interesting places with so many historical sights. Here I want to tell you about the two ancient cities outside of Turpan that are in ruins after being invaded by the Mongols in the 13th century. Jiaohe in the top photo was a well fortified city with a King on top of a plateau. The other is Gochang both which can be visited in one day. In the desert both cities had large populations ruled by Kings and were very important to the trade routes of the Silk Road. You can visit these ruins and walk down their streets and visit some of the old buildings some of which are still in good condition. I was there late in the day and we had the ruins almost totally to ourselves for great photography. Jiaohe you can walk up a path through the city but Gochang is a bit further out and you can either walk or take a donkey cart out and back which gives some income to the local people besides having a ride if it is a hot day. The Silk Road is best seen in September for best weather and cooler temperatures. October starts to get cold in the higher elevations.