Snow Shovelling – Urumqi, China

Urumqi is located in the far west of China and is the capital city of Xinjiang Uygur Autominous Region. This was my first visit to this part of China, which is very unlike the other parts I have visited.

It is a great place to visit in summer, with many beautiful places around it (in fact Urumqi means ‘a beautiful prarie’ in the Mongolian language, but I was there in winter when the temperatures can reach -30 centigrade so I was somewhat reticent about coming here during such an inhospitable season but work beckoned …

I will write more about the city later but what struck me on arrival was snow shovelling. There had been a storm which dumped a lot of snow on the city and they were clearing the snow, by hand. Now this is a city of over 2 million people and they only have a few snow plows. So what they have done is assign a section of the city to each person, sidewalks and roads, and when it snows they have the responsibility of shovelling the snow away. If they don’t do it, they are fined.

So for 2 h after the snow stops all roads are closed to traffic while the city mobilizes itself. As I travelled to work there were people everywhere wielding shovels. Sometimes individually, other times in groups from a business. During my meetings there was a continual background of shovels striking pavements, and by the end of the day the streets were all cleared. China never ceases to amaze me …


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