Today we drive 400 km to Turpan with a visit to the Astana ancient tombs and the flaming mountain on the way.
It is very windy as we leave Hami and as we head west we drive through the Hami desert. The wind is blowing the sand across the road from the south to the north and in places it is settling so they have a couple of street sweepers keeping it clear.
The road is quite good with only a few minor roadworks. There is also quite a big wind farm that we drive past.
As we approach Turpan there are grape vines on both sides of the road and small ventilated brick buildings that are used to dry the grapes and make sultanas. Turpan sits in the Grape Valley.
We turn off the highway and the flaming mountains are beside us as we drive to the Astana tombs where we have lunch before visiting the tombs.
There have been around 500 tombs discovered in Astana and we visit 3 of them. One tomb has 2 bodies in glass cases and they are in very good condition for their age. There are also some very well preserved wall murals.
The Bogda mountains are north of us and this area is famous for the Karez Well system, that is an underground system that delivers water from the mountains into the surrounding farming area and Turpan. So Turpan is like an oasis in the desert.