Kashgar, the Middle East 

From Kuqa (库车), I took the train to Kashgar (716 km in the Southwest). Kashgar is closer to Teheran and Damascus than to Beijing, and you can definitely feel, that the atmosphere is not “typical Chinese”, more like Middle East. You’ll see what I mean  in the pictures. 

The train from Kuqa should have departed at 10pm in the evening, but due to (uncommon) rainfalls in the desert between Kuqa and Kashgar, the rails were damaged and all trains were delayed, some were canceled. Unfortunately there was no information about my train so I decided to sleep that night in the railway station and I also got to know some new friends. 

My train arrived at 5.30am and I was lucky enough to wake up for the last call for my train.
Even though my train finally arrived, it still rode very slow, so I arrived in Kashgar with a delay of 14 hours, which is very remarkable, since I never experienced any delay of a train in China before. It was fine, since I didn’t have any time pressure and I packed enough food for the journey. 

Arriving in Kashgar I already felt the atmosphere of this beautiful city as soon as I crossed the city center, in order to get to my hostel. 

When I arrived at the hostel, I met a super nice 33 years old Chinese from Qingdao, Shandong Province, who also stayed as a guest in the hostel. He already formed a small travel group of individual travelers, who wanted to go to the beautiful Tashkurgan (220 km South), which is close to the border of Tajikistan.

The ride to Tashkurgan (also called Taxian), was already one of the highlights of the trip.

Look at the 3 little Uighur kids in the back seats of the minibus that we took to Tashkurgan. They were so curious.

We rode on the Karakoram highway (KKH) south to Tashkurgan and passed by an oasis, a canyon and lakes high up in the mountains. We also witnessed the Kongur Mountain (7719m),  the heavily glaciered Muztagh Ata (7546m) and the Karakul Lake.

We also passed by this beautiful lake with the snow mountains and also desert in the background.

After a 6-7 hours ride (for only 220 km), we arrived in Tashkurgan, a city up 3600 m high in the mountains. The town is very small, beautiful and not touristic. It’s so nice to stroll around this peaceful spot. 

This photo I shot in the sunset, right after a heavy rainfall.

In the evening our group enjoyed some hot pot together.

The next day, we started our way even more south. We kept traveling down the Karakoram Highway over the Khunjerab Pass (4800 m), which is not far away from the K2 Mountain (8611 m), the second highest mountain in the world. 

The Khunjerab Pass is one of the world’s most spectacular roads and China’s gateway to Pakistan. For centuries, this route was used by caravans plodding down the silk road. Khunjerab means “Valley of blood” – Local bandits used to take advantage of the terrain to slaughter merchants and plunder caravans.

On the bus ride, one of my friends offered me this black egg. 

I tried to refuse it at first because it looked very terrible to me. But she insisted so I had a try and it was absolutely delicious!! It’s basically just been fermented in something like soy sauce.

Our driver was from the Tajikistani minority and was really friendly and patient with us. 

What an excellent travel group I joined!

We were not allowed to cross the border, but I took a photo. Behind the house with the blue roof, there’s Pakistan.

We also took a photo at the border.

In the evening, we were invited by a lovely Tajikistani family to have dinner in their house. They offered all kinds of melons, bread, milk tea and butter.

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They also showed us the Tajikistani traditional clothes like the hat, that the men wear when they are getting married.

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Later that evening, the 2 young girls in the family showed us some traditional dances.

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Thank you so much for sharing your lovely and warm hearted culture with us, “Haidihosh” (Goodbye)

I went back to Kashgar the next morning, because I started to feel very uncomfortable on the high altitude.
I stayed in Kashgar for 2 more days and explored the beautiful atmosphere there. Uighur bazaars, food and houses make the city an absolute must see in Xinjiang! It’s hard to describe the magic vibes of the city in words, so I try to speak with pictures.

Two Uighur families even invited me to see their traditional houses from inside, they are so colorful, have lots of plants inside and most of them raise pigeons in the courtyard.

Mao Zedong is always keeping a eye over the city, obviously a subtle wink to the uighur minority (actually majority in this part of China), that the Han-Chinese now came to their territory and rule over it.

You know I’m a true foodie (吃货)  and I from all. The food that I ate in Xinjiang, this one of the best!

Here’s a sweet desert, nuts and raisins fried in a kind of pancake, covered with sugar. Best desert I had in China!

Here’s fried rice(抓饭)with lamb sticks:

The stomach of the lamb was not my favorite, but fun to have a try!

My next stop was the fantastic Yining (伊宁) at the Kazakh boarder, where the grass is greener than everywhere else. Stay tuned!

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