Last year I had fun compiling a list of trivia about Xinjiang that the average person probably wouldn’t know (see: 5 Things You Probably Didn’t Know about Xinjiang). Since then I’ve kept my eye out for other useless, yet entertaining, facts about the largest province in China.
You won’t find these facts in the Guinness Book of Records and you won’t read about them in any China travel guides. These fun tidbits are usually buried behind mounds of more important information, but today it is my pleasure to share them with you. 5 MORE facts about Xinjiang you probably didn’t know.
1. Xinjiang Has the Highest road in the World
Completed in 1957, the Xinjiang-Tibet highway (also known as national highway 219) is the highest road in the world. Its pass through the Kunlun Mountains onto the Tibetan Plateau reaches over 6,000m in elevation and is arguably one of the more difficult ways to travel from Xinjiang to Tibet because much of it isn’t paved. As a side note, part of this road passes into the “disputed zone” between China and India (i.e. they both claim the land to be theirs).
2. Home to China’s only Wild Camel Reserve
The two-humped camel, also called the Bactrian camel, is currently found wild in only three places in the world – the Taklamakan Desert, Lop Nur, and a part of the China/Mongolia border. The camel reserve was established in 1999 and covers 65,000 square kilometers of barren nothing-ness. Thankfully camels seem to be immune to the effects of nuclear radiation. (See a map of the camel reserve)
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3. You’ve Probably Seen it in the Movie Theater
Xinjiang has been the setting for quite a few Chinese films, but more than likely you haven’t seen any of them. There are, however, a few movies you probably have seen that you might not realize were shot in Xinjiang.
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4. Bill Gates Spent his Honeymoon Here
Ok, so not *all* of his honeymoon, but he did stop here. For those who have read Oracle Bones by Peter Hessler, this fact won’t come as much of a shock but what’s interesting is that I can find no other evidence to back up this claim. Regardless, it’s a pretty fun trivia fact. According to Hessler they only spent a few hours there checking out the Xinjiang museum mummies and meeting with a woman who is now China’s #1 enemy.
5. Home to the Oldest Chinese Papercut
Apparently an ancient Chinese soldier got pretty bored while being stationed in one of the garrison towns along the Silk Road. His paper creation was found and dated back to the 5th or 6th century during the Southern and Northern dynasties.
h/t to the Bovey Blog
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