Turfan was rather a disappointment at first. The guide book said that it was below sea level which was an exciting idea. It isn't. The Turfan depression is to the south and is the second lowest place on earth. we were not to be discouraged and set off in the car and put things right in about 10 miles when we stopped with the altimeter on our GPS navigation box reading -100 metres. We were in a small village and enjoyed watching life go by while drinking a coffee and eating bread. The car is always a good introduction and as usual started off conversations, if you can call arm waving and pointing at a map a conversation. As always, people were curious and friendly.
The other thing that the guide book said was that the town of Turfan had tried to improve its environment by planting vines on trellises over the paths to provide shade. Well, there were some vines and trellises but not everywhere. The town is not pretty and is all modern.
Luckily the more conventional sights were very good - the old city is an archeological site on a hill and there was a spectacular stupa (temple tower). There is a developing tourist industry intended for the Chinese. The exhibition of how the irrigation system works was very cheesy and the wine valley was worse but provided an excellent lunch for us with Jenny and Stuart.