Hotan to Kashgar (China)



Hotan to Kashgar
After having crossed the Taklamakan desert, we join the Southern string of oasis cities that make up the Southern Silk road. The journey to the famous Silk Road city of Kashgar was desert only with, to our left along the way, both the Himalaya and Pamir chains of mountains. Mount Kongur is the highest at 7719 m !



Karghilik is the same as any other city along the Southern silk road. The main road entering the city leads us to an ugly Chinese style main street. This main street will be lined with small one storey houses in which a Chinese family lives and has a small shop or restaurant. There are always decorated with small boring looking white tiles. Since the Chinese have taken over this part of Asia, they have decided to make it Chinese. To do this, they will offer incentives for families to move to the West : financial incentives or even, we were told, the possibility of having a second child. Of course, all important posts in the administration are held by Han Chinese. Most of the big cars are driven by Han Chinese. In the capital of the Province, Urumqi, their numbers are quite important. South of the desert, however, more than 95% of the population is still the local Uyghur. They live in the "old town" or that part of the city that has not yet been demolished to make it a "modern city". This part of town centers around the main mosque and the bazaar.



Besides its bazaar, Yarkand is famous for its mosque and cemetery. Everything here is muslim style and looks very much like Central Asia. No wonder as the people are the same : Uyghur, Tadjiks, Kyrghyz etc. One aspect of Chinese life we had almost forgotten about is the fact that not all hotels are allowed to accept foreigners as their standards are supposedly not good enough. This is not good when there is only one such hotel in the city. No competition... As usual, we would put our guide up in a guesthouse and ask to stay in the car park. Although initially OK, the lady at the reception called the PSB (Public Security Bureau) to check if this was OK. No this is not OK : we should sleep in the hotel as all foreigners "should" do. Fine. We wish to stay in your beautiful city so we will pay for a room. No, no, no, the price is foreigners is different : not 40 RMB as for locals but 160 RMB (= US$ 20 instead of US$ 5) ! After having visited the cemetery, we left and drove to the next city 200 km away... Due to her unfriendliness, we promised this lady she would be put up on the internet ! Later in Kashgar, we met the MSF (Medecins sans Frontieres) team who knew of her !


China's most unfriendly reception lady


Local children


Try to fix this one


Yengisar is the Toledo of China : the place where all the fine knifes are manufactured. Blades are made of steel (Chinese made or imported from Japan) and the handles are made of iron. These can be decorated with all sorts of material : silver, horn, pearls... Everything is done by hand in small shops of the city or everything under one roof in the the government factory that we visited. This factory had 50 workers, all responsible for one step of the manufacturing process.


Kashgar Sunday market
Kashgar has had a weekly market or the last two thousand years... It is said these people know how to bargain !


The Kashgar Sunday Market


The Great Game 
The "Great Game" is the name that was given by the British to the battle of influence between Russia and England in this part of the world. One remain of this period is the Russian Consulate in Kashgar.


The Russian Consulate


The city of Kashgar
Besides its weekly market to which the whole province flocks to, Kashgar is the second largest city in Xinjiang Province. Despite some large Chinese style avenues, it has an amazing old town full of traders and beautiful old houses. It is easy to believe that the Chinese would destroy the whole area just for the sake of building a "better, more modern city". 

Kashgar, old town


Kashgar, new city (Troopie next to one of China's tallest statues of the Great Helmsman)



9000 km after our departure from Hong Kong !


A few more pages to round up our 6 weeks in China
Driving in China, part II Vehicles on the road Car and camping


We are doing well !

Turpan to Hotan Back to Trip page The Karakoram Highway