Before this trip, I never really appreciated a Sheraton or similar mid-level hotel chain. They are clean and comfortable and have real toilets! This was the perfect thing to do at this time in our travels, because we really needed a few days without too much running around (any) and without too many things to see (we literally saw one). Instead, we ate snacks in the hotel bed (what a lovely bed I love bed) and watched horrible movies. This hotel didn't have HBO like our other recent treat-yo-self China hotel stays have surprised us with - but it had Cinemax. Lolol you know how people used to joke and call it Skinemax? That's not the right joke. There was nothing bawdy on, just PURE UTTER SHIT. We watched so many bad movies. There was one with Chloe Grace Moretz where somehow she keeps surviving all these alien attacks that wipe out 99% of the population and you watch and you think 'well she's gotta be special in some way right any minute now we will learn what makes her so different from everyone else and she will fight something and win back Earth' but no her special skill is sleeping with a man who turns out to be part alien and HE is the one who helps save her she LITERALLY does nothing oh my god why is she the star in this disaster movie if she has NO Katnissy skills to speak of she literally just lucked out a few times then met a rando and slept with him and the man saves her and some other kids she does NOTHING and has no special abilities except not dying from bird flu or whatever. We watched this movie twice. We also watched Whiskey Tango Foxtrot twice, partly because Tina Fey is great even when she's trying to be serious and dramatic and you're like aw good for you hon trying new things and mostly because we have a big metal water bottle from the film that sits in our bathroom for no good reason so it's like a part of the family. WTF was actually not bad. The third movie we watched was indeed awful. It was called Terrordactyl. I shit you not. Terrordactyl. It was like if Sharknado wasn't funny, but was super depressing because you just feel so bad for these 'actors' who showed up to set and probably couldn't make eye contact with each other because they were so ashamed of what their careers and dreams had become. We watched it only half a time.
We lucked out with the hotel being attached to a mall because in our newfound lazy state, we didn't have to go very far for food. Well, our first night, we did try to go very far for food. There's one vegan place on HappyCow called Yuangqi Vegetarian, and we got on a public city bus to get there with everyone staring at us (we did not see any other tourists in this city, p.s.). It's online info said it should be open and I was so excited to finally have a good meal after a few days without. I was so excited for their mock meats, as HC reviews claimed they had. Well I will never know because there was a handwritten looseleaf paper sign on the padlocked door that a nice passerby told us said they needed a rest today and had closed. FUUUUUCK YOUUUUU you need a rest?? I NEED FOOOOOOOOD. Dammit to hell. We could have tried back the next day but I was too angry with them.
Learning not to ever leave the hotel and its attached mall, we returned and scoped out the many restaurants on the upper floors, including a food court that was, as usual, too confusing with too unhelpful staff so we chose a Han restaurant with a picture menu. We got several vegetable dishes that were pretty good and I got mapo tofu but asked first if it was vegetarian because it always had pork, but this menu didn't say pork. The waitress said yes and confirmed that it had no pork when we asked that separately. Of course it came with pork, and when we said (/had our phone say) 'but you said it didn't have pork!' she motioned that it was just a little bit. I get that vegetarianism is super alien to most Chinese people considering their recent history and that being able to eat meat is a sign of being in an okay place finally, so it's hard to complain about all these frequent mishaps. But like, this was a young girl and I asked her so many times. Blah. I hate wasting food so I hope someone ate it in the back. They brought me a porkless one and it was really good so at least it was sort of worth it.
After dinner, we checked out another floor that had tons of ice cream vendors (still none for me in three months ughhh), donut vendors, drinks of all sorts, and of course bubble tea. We were surrounded! I ordered one and asked for bubbles to be added, as I always have to do because usually only the milk teas come with bubbles automatically. I learned the right words finally and everything. Of course, it came without bubbles. I have HAD IT with these M***F***ing kids giving me M***F****ing bobaless teas! I wasn't having it anymore and I said, hey remember I asked for boba? And the boy said 'yes but it doesn't come with it so you can't have it.' I MEAN. Luckily someone else overheard and was like wtf is going on just put the damn bubbles in, it will not lead to the downfall of your (*cough* Taiwan's *cough*) culture if you put bubbles in milkless teas.
The hotel had a pretty decent gym, with tons of treadmills, weight machines, free weights, and kettlebells, the first I've seen of those in any place in China. There was also a separate spinning room attached which is hilarious because it didn't seem like they had any classes, just all the bikes set up as they would be in a class. Unfortunately, the staff members 'working' in the gym were beyond horrendous. Two young guys were chasing each other around the gym floor trying to pour water from paper cups onto each other the entire time I was on the treadmill. I kept looking back at them and being like WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU but they were too oblivious to notice my withering glare. Finally one of them left so the other finally just sat the crap down, but then this huge guy came in, went into the office inside the gym, and put on THE WORST music I've ever heard - slow, painful, and exceedingly loud. I asked the seated staffer if they could turn it down considering I had to cover my ears to breathe normally through it, and he shrugged and pointed to the guy as if to say 'it's his music.' Remember that this huge guy putting the music on was not an employee. Seriously I need Sheraton Corporate to care that this was happening. I went up to the huge guy, who was starting to lift, and pointed to the office and the speakers and asked for him to turn it down. And you know what he did? He laughed at me. So I went right up in his face and SCREAMED "TURN THIS SHIT MUSIC DOWN BEFORE I TURN IT OFF FOR YOU YOU GODDAMN ASSHOLE." He turned the music off. And then he did bicep curls with a freaking machine (so dumb) while making the loudest grunts I've ever heard at a gym and I just laughed thinking of what all the reddit fitness commenters would say about this jackwagon.
We were going to go to the big bazaar, but we read that it was pretty fake and just for tourists and it all sounded very annoying and unnecessary considering that our next destination, Kashgar, has an authentic and still amazing bazaar. So we didn't. The one thing we did in Urumqi was the thing you really have to do when there, which is visit the big museum, called the Xinjiang Regional Museum (or the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Museum). Named for the whole region for a reason, it houses some of the most important archaeological and historical finds that weren't shipped out of the country, including all those mummified corpses I mentioned in the Turpan post that they found there. They were REAL mummies, my goodness. It was a little sickening. The super dry climate in Turpan (slash all of Xinjiang) helped preserve so much detail - like, hair. And freaking eyelashes! There were 21 mummies, I think, in this museum, and they included men, women, and children - including an infant-sized mummy. It was very disturbing and upsetting to see. I think I am over dead bodies, okay?
The museum included exhibits on all the ethnic cultures living in the Xinjiang region, which happened to represent all of the places we had so far visited on this long journey - Russia and Siberia, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and all the other stans. So my favorite parts of the museum were things that reminded me of our travels up to this point and pointed to our next destinations. like this look at Mongolian wrestlers that were NOT wearing the traditional wrestling uniform (speedo + feather boa) that we learned about in Naadam.
So, I know we didn't do much, but that's our time in Urumqi. It was just a regular old city with a good museum but not much else to recommend it for tourists. It was good though because we needed a bit of a rest before the last section of our trip when we hop from place to place extremely quickly. I leave you with the sign on the door to the train platform (which some of you saw on instagram) as we left Urumqi for Kashgar (the next post).