It served us as a good transition point between Central Asia and China, as the city is heavily influenced by both regions, the local population are Uighurs who are closely related to the Turks. The men were wearing little Muslim skull caps and some of the woman wore a scarf loosely tied around their heads.
We visited the downtown bazaar area, which reminded us a lot of bazaar and souqs in Syria and Morocco. There was a great vibe there, as we sat down to eat at a busy, open food market people smiled and laughed to us/at us, they seemed amused to see foreigners.
The food was delicious, served steaming hot with plenty of fresh coriander on top – yum! Here we also experienced our first moment of being sneak photographed, something the Chinese really seem to master we have discovered :-)
As we walked around the city we noticed how English could only muster up to be the fourth language here, the street signs were in Chinese and Arabic, and a few places we saw Russian writing too. Western influences seem a world away; the only thing that reminded us of the west was the large number of KFCs. Ürümqi and the Xinjiang province is extremely interesting for its cultural mix and far of any tourist trails.