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Impressive Xinjiang Trip


Impressive Xinjiang Trip by Leena

After the Yunnan, Luoyang and Xi'an tour with Bea and Danny, we had to say goodbye to Bea, and then I began my fantastic Xinjiang trip with Danny from Apr 22nd to 28th, 2018. It was an impressive and unforgetable trip during my life.

2018-4-22 Xi’an-Urumqi 3.5hrs flight

After 3.5hrs flight, we arrived in Urumqi, a big Chinese city with a large Uyghur minority, which lies at the end of the Chinese part of the Silk Road. This is my first time to come here. In fact I was surprised by the security check everywhere, even though I know something about it before I came. And in the rest of the time, I started to get used to surprise, and finally I started to enjoy it. From here on, we were going to experience a completely different culture. We visited the bazaar, the old and the new parts. But I think you will like the old one much more than the new one, because you can find the real local life there.

2018-4-23 Urumqi-Turpan 1hr 20mins fast train

The fast train took us 1 hour and 20 minutes, then we met our first rigorous check at the exit of Turpan train station. The police asked us (mainly for our Danny) a lot of questions, such as: where are you from? What are you doing here? How many days will you stay here? Where will you stay? Then they checked Dannys passport very carefully to see if there was something not right. Then another police came to us, and asked the same questions again, and I had to answer it again. Finally they let us go, and took the picture of Danny before we left.

Anyway, the check did not affect us a lot, because we were so surprised by our hotel outside of the city center in Turpan few minutes later. We loved the small courtyard in the middle of the grape fields. I am sure if you were there, you will love the fields and enjoy the beautiful sun.

Although people also use Beijing time in Xinjiang area, it does have a time difference of about 2.5 hours. So when the lights in other parts of China are on, the sun is still shining here in Xinjiang. But it was so funny, I think you will like the time difference. The other very important thing is, you must taste the Dapanji (big plate chicken) cooked by the hotel, I think this is the most delicious one I experienced till now. We had a very nice evening here.

2018-4-24 Turpan flight to Kashgar

In the morning, we visited Jiaohe Ruins (Yar City). It is the largest, oldest, and best preserved earthen architectural site in the world, which lasted for the longest time and is the only city without city wall, and also the most complete city site preserved for more than 2000 years in China, reputed as the worlds most perfect ruins. If you can arrive here earlier, you will like this quiet old city.

Then we visited Mazar village, the oldest Uygur village in Xinjiang. Mazar Village of Tuyuk Valley has a history of over 2600 years and is cradle of ancient Cheshi (Gushi) of Turpan Basin. At present, the village has 65 households and more than 370 people, of which all are Uygur. Local residents keep traditional Urgur living customs. Divided into two floors, namely upper floor and lower floor with local style. Ancient Dwelling of Mazar Village is called Museum of Local-style Buildings of the World.

The last site we visited was Gaochang Ruins, another ruins in Turpan. If you have enough time, you can enjoy the sunset in the old city.

After 2hrs flight, we arrived in Kashgar, where the life is slightly different from the rest of China. When you walk through the old town, most of the signs are in Arabic and people also speak Uygur language, a language that looks like a cross between Turkish and Mongolian.

2018-4-25 Kashgar- Tashkurgan, 8hours driving

It was a very hard day for us, 8 hrs driving from Kashgar to Tashkurgan. So we departured from the hotel very early (07:00am in Beijing time, in fact there was a 2-2.5hrs time difference between Beijing and here). So we have to take the packed breakfast prepared by our hotel. But there was a good chance to experience the local breakfast on the way. You could enjoy it with the local people.

After 2hrs driving, we passed by the White Sand Mountain and Brunkou reservoir, which surprised us a lot.

The next point which surprised us was Karakul Lake, where we planned to do the camping, BBQ and watch stars. But our local agent told us this was not allowed, especially with the foreigners. So we had to change our itinerary. Anyway, we did not miss the beauty of the lake.

We stood on the edge of the lake, looking at the snowy mountains across the lake, the glacier, the clear wind blowing on our faces, and the air was so clear. It's 4000 meters above sea level, but I didn't have a plateau reaction at all, a different person from the one in Qinghai one year ago, 3600 meters then.

Then we passed by Tagharma Viewing Deck, which was only 30mins driving to Tashkurgan. Tagharma plateau wetland, located at the foot of Muztag Peak, which is the largest basin and wetland in Tashkurgan County with local area of 8000 mu and altitude of 3050 meters. Surrounded by mountains with low terrain, countless mountain springs gather here and form the largest meadow base in Tashkurgan County. When summer approaches, the wetland becomes paradise of birds; with Tajiks myths and lengends about holy mountain and grassland, Tagharma plateau wetland is also called plateau wetland for reproduction of spiritual bouquets .

Here I have to mention two big checkpoints on the way, one is Gaz checkpoint, which we met the first strict point, and the other one is Qima checkpoint , which is about to enter the county town of Tashkurgan. Foreigners should show their passports and face questioning; Uygur tour guides and drivers should show their passes, and must bring all the information about the travel plans. Other Chinese people must apply for border defense certificates. As the Han people, I was the first one to pass the checkpoint with my identity card and my Han peoples face. Our foreign friends had to be interrogated, accompanied by the tour guide. I could pass the checkpoint very quickly without any stop there. Then sat in the car and waited for them to pass the checkpoint. By the time we passed the Qima checkpoint, our armed police officers had never told me to get out of the car, just only sat in the car and showed my face to them. In the next few days, almost every time passing through a checkpoint like this.

At around 15:30, we arrived in Tashkurgan, the remote corner in Western China. And then we visited the Golden Grassland, a wetland on the Pamirs Plateau.

Then we visited a local Tajik family. A very large Tajik minorrity lives here in this region. The local people here were so friendly. And when we said we wanted to take a photo for them, the ladies went to wear their wedding dress to satisfy us.

If it is possible, you should try the local food in one of the Tajik restaurants near the village, or maybe in the county. Then you will find the real life here.

2018-4-26 Tashkurgan-Kashgar 7.5hrs driving

We checked out the hotel at around 08:00am, very early morning there because of the time difference. Another 7-8 hours driving back. But we met the different views on the way, which surprised us again.

It was about 15:00 when we were back to Kashgar, after a lunch in the local restaurant, we visited the Afak khoja Mausoleum, a typical ancient Islamic building, also a mausoleum of the holy people of Islam.

What you can't miss in Kashgar is Kashgar's Bazaar and the old town, where we really experienced the life of the local people. The old city was completely rebuilt a few years ago by our Chinese government. If you are in Kashgar on Sunday so that you can visit the Sunday market, where local farmers come together to buy and sell animals. We missed it because we were there on Thursday. We also tasted a pot of Lao Cha (old tea) in the oldest tea house in the city. You will like it.

Because Xinjiang uses the same time zone as Beijing, it remains a long light. This also keeps restaurants and the night market open longer. The other side of the coin is that daily life in the morning often starts at around 9 o'clock. So we enjoyed our night food market there with the light.

2018-4-27 Kashgar-Hotan 12hrs driving

There was only 520km, but took us about 12 hours, because there were so many checkpoints we have to passed, and we had to spend more than 20 mins in some checkpoints. We were so helpless, but had to accept it, and finally we had learned to enjoy it. It was funny when we passed the last checkpoint, there was a police car leading the way for us in front of our car, maybe just only because there was a foreigner in our car. Anyway, after 12 hours driving, we arrived in Rewak Temple Ruins, which lies in the desert.

In the evening, we went to experience the Hotan night food market, which is much bigger than the one in Kashgar.

2018-4-28 Flight Hotan-Urumqi, back home

After a short visit in Hotan Bazaar which is a little similar with the others in Xinjiang region, we took the flight to Urumqi, and then ended our inspection trip there.

By Leena - Charmission Travel


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