Vera’s Hometown – Aletai or Altay in Xinjiang, China.
Aletai is a city in the Xinjiang province of China.Xinjiang is an autonomous region of China.
Xinjiang ( Mandarin Pronunciation – Shinjang ) officially Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, is an autonomous region in the north-west of the country. It is the largest Chinese administrative division, spanning over 1.6 million km2 and the most populous amongst the ten largest national subdivisions. It shares borders with Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. It is also bordered, to the south, by Tibet.
Aletai is situated on the most northern part of Xinjiang. On it’s east is Mongolia, on the west Kazakhstan and Russia on the northern side.
More than a dozen autonomous prefectures and counties for minorities are in Xinjiang. Older English-language reference works sometimes refer to the area as Chinese Turkestan.
This was really interesting for me and I learnt that it is home to a number of ethnic groups including the Uyghur, Han, Kazhaks, Tajiks, Hui, Krygys and Mongols. Due to the large presence of the ethnic minority groups in Xinjiang – the food habits, cuisine, clothing , appearance and day to day living differs significantly from other parts of China ! Vera tells me one can find all the cuisines here- Guandong, Sichuan and Shandong. People are very hospitable and welcome you into their homes.I must say, Vera is a true reflection of this and I have enjoyed many meals at her home in Sydney 🙂
Here’s a visual of Xinjiang.
Winters in Aletai are extremely harsh – long, cold and bitter winters, with temperatures dipping to -20 degrees Celsius. !! (One thing Vera loves about Sydney now is the weather).There are massive snow storms and snow collects on the roads upto a few meters.
Therefore , a lot of time in winter is spent indoors. Vera’s family spent most of the evenings reading and playing cards.Vera’s husband ( who is not from Aletai ! ) says people spend the long, bitter evenings having a drink ! I’m not sure if this is true as Vera didn’t seem to agree !
Here’s another interesting thing I learnt, (which I absolutely loved !). Most families in Aletai do not own refrigerators as the need doesn’t arise. Vera told me the meat etc in her house was simply stored in the balcony- and the temperatures were cold enough to keep the meat fresh – and they did have a lot of meat- sometimes even a whole sheep. ( Organizations, at times made gifts of sheep to it’s employees as a mark of appreciation! – how’s that for an absolute conversation stunner! )
Most people in Aletai eat meat – lamb and beef are preferred. Pork is not as popular due to the Muslim population.
Coming Up – Pics from Aletai, Monsters in the lake, House Swapping and Food !