At 8 p.m., Yin Haiyong and the other stall owners are impatient to open their tens of meters long mats on the space in front of the Urumqi People's Cinema like a red carpet for receiving customers. At half past eight, although the sun is still hanging in the sky, the 20 night markets in the city of Urumqi are ready to open and receive the residents of Urumqi and visitors from various places.
As the weather is getting warm, especially in the tourist season, many visitors chose to taste the local snack food specialties and experience the strong folk customs of the western border areas in Xinjiang's night markets, which are reputed to be a "Travel Paradise," and Xinjiang's capital city of Urumqi is also known as "The City for China's Muslim Food."
Major night markets in Urumqi are prosperous as ever
Reporters saw several curious visitors from Beijing frequently holding up their cameras to take photos at the Mayday Holiday Night Market, the biggest night market in Urumqi, and a young man from Beijing smiled happily as his picture was taken with a walnut-like big red date in his hand in front of a dried fruit stall full of various Xinjiang-style dried fruit.
Of course, most visitors at the night markets are willing to take a seat at the stall of the most forthright and passionate of stall owners to have a taste of their favorite food.
There are various foods both from the northern and southern of China at the night markets, such as Chinese sliced noodles, dumplings, rice noodles and seafood, as well as foreign food, such as "Hokkaido squid" and "Korean laver board." However, most foods are local snacks, such as roast whole lamb, kebabs, hand rice, thin buns, yellow noodles, agar-agar jelly and pepper sesame chicken.
Although the roast whole lamb’s price of 70 yuan per kilogram is expensive, the stall owner will tell you that the roast whole lamb is grass-fed from grass grown with kaline soil and the special meat will become tender, juicy and not greasy through hours of artificial baking. After you taste it the flavor is unforgettable.
The world famous Xinjiang kebab is a characteristic snack that almost every visitor will have to taste at the night market. The Wei Fang couple from Changchun ordered 20 kebabs and two glasses of “Kavas”, a kind of beverage brewed with honey, at the Peace Metropolis Night Market in Urumqi. "We want to experience eating lots of meat and drinking beers in order to enjoy ourselves," they said.
Besides visitors, government delegations from China’s mainland aim to assist Xinjiang, and businessmen looking for commercial opportunities frequently come to Xinjiang by airplane and train, after the 2010 Work Conference on Xinjiang.
As the number of foreign visitors is increasing gradually, currently, the hotel occupancy rate is steadily increasing by more than 60 percent, and the number of commercial individual travelers and conference customers has significantly increased, according to star hotels such as the Urumqi Yindu Hotel, the Sheraton Hotel and the Hoi Tak Hotel.
As the tourist season in Xinjiang approaches, the civil aviation and railway departments announced that more flights and trains will be available to Urumqi in July.
Officers from the Mayday Holiday Night Market Office in Urumqi said that the average visitor flow can reach 40,000 during rush hours at the night market in the peak tourism season from July to October every year. Although it is not yet July, the daily visitor flow of almost 10,000 has laid a "good foundation" for the coming peak period.
After talking with many stall owners at various night markets in Urumqi, reporters learned that the government’s support to Xinjiang and the tourist departments’ efforts of publicizing Xinjiang made stall owners obviously feel that the number of travelers that come to the night markets has gradually increased in Urumqi. The prosperous scene of travelers from various places congregating in the night markets is returning.