Asia 2008 - Facts and Information
Day by Day 3: China - Lanzhou to Kashgar
The end results of the trip

What we did and when we did it

ASIA INDEX 2008

SIBERIA INDEX
 Irkutsk Streets
 Irkutsk Churches
 Taltsy Museum
 Listvyanka
 Circum-Baikal Rlwy
 Trans-Mongolian Rlwy

MONGOLIA INDEX
 Ulaan Baatar
 Choijin Lama Temples
 Bogd Khan Palace
 Gandan Monastery
 Terelj National Park
 Khustai National Park

CHINA INDEX
Beijing Index
 First Impressions
 Forbidden City
 Temple of Heaven
 Beihai Park
 Confucius Temple
 Lama Temple
 Jinshang Park
 Great Wall

Pingyao Index
 First Impressions
 Pingyao Sights
 Rule of Law
 Walls and Beyond

Xi'an Index
 Walls & Streets
 Muslim Quarter
 Xi'an at Night
 Shaanxi Museum
 Forest of Steles
 Banpo Neolithic Vill
 Famen & Qian Ling
 Terracotta Army
 Terracotta Army Mus

Lanzhou Index
 Lanzhou - General
 Binglin Si Grottoes
 Kumbum & Xining
 Qu Tan Monastery

Along Silk Road Index
 Wuwei & Zhangye
 Matisi Grottoes
 Wenshu
 Jiayuguan

Dunhuang Index
 Dunhuang & Mogao
 Yumen Gate & Ya Dan

Turpan Index
 Turpan & Emin Minaret
 Jiaohe
 Tuyaq & Gaochang

Kashgar Index
 Train Turpan-Kashgar
 Kashgar
 Karakoram Highway
 Awat Market

KYRGYZSTAN INDEX
 Torugart Pass to Naryn
 Naryn to Karakol
 Karakol
 Jeti Oghuz Valley
 Karakol to Bishkek

FACTS/INFO INDEX

23 May
Waterwheels in Lanzhou this morning, interesting to us with interest in industrial archaeology. Then White Pagoda Hill, intention was to walk up but as 200m climb in full sun we said no way and went in cable car instead, interesting view across Lanzhou. Drove to Wuwei, interesting and different scenery on climb through hills before dropping back down to plain. Encountered unspeakably indescribable toilet behind houses in village on way. Wuwei definitely not on the tourist beat. Wandering the streets near the hotel we were the subject of incredulous interest to locals! Ronghua Hotel, Wuwei

24 May
Visited Wuwei Temple (Confucianist/Taoist) which was good. Drove to Zhangye (lunch) on road where fields gradually gave way to desert with remains of earth Great Wall near road for miles. Great Buddha Temple bit of an anticlimax as being restored and dust everywhere. Zhangye pleasant modern town with affluent feel to it quite nice to wander in. Zhangyedianli Hotel, Zhangye

25 May
Early start and drive into mountains to Matisi Grottoes, very good though chickened out of access to some of them (weren't sure we'd fit the gaps). Well off tourist beat so quiet, but sadly a large hotel is being built there. Agreed we would fork out extra cash for diversion to Wenshan Temple (Tibetan) and Grottoes (Han), well worthwhile. Arrived Jiayuguan latish and wandered pleasant tree-lined streets after dinner. Great Wall Hotel, Jiayuguan

26 May
Jiayuguan Gate, worthwhile trip to see reconstructed gate/fort in earth wall, a bit marred by camel rides and other tourist tat but place quietened down after initial hordes had moved on. Interesting museum. Drove to Dunhuang, long slog. Had been offered diversion to Yulin Ku but declined on grounds of cost/time (would have got us to Dunhuang very late indeed). Said goodbye to Peter and Hu, our guide and driver for the last week. Silk Road Hotel, Dunhuang

27 May
Yumen Pass interesting. Underwhelmed by Yadan, landforms interesting but not as much variety as expected, took a long time not doing much, wondered if this day might have been better spent at Yulin Ku. Silk Road Hotel, Dunhuang

28 May
Mogao Caves - quite incredible. After lunch stayed in town centre to explore, market areas interesting. Made mistake of walking back to hotel on very hot afternoon. Later to Mingsha Mountains - most bizarre place imaginable with a new, empty four lane highway leading to a turnstile into the desert. Whilst it was interesting and impressive to see the dunes this was a sad example of how tourism destroys what people first went to see by providing 'attractions' and 'activities' for them. Silk Road Hotel, Dunhuang

29 May
Mogao Caves again and well worth a second visit, especially as we had a much better cave guide this day. Had fixed late checkout at hotel. Drive to Liuyuan for train (through train from Dunhuang to Xinjiang no longer runs). Night on train

30 May
Turpan, very hot <45° and dusty in town due to extensive roadworks. Went to Jiaohe and walked round site, impressive. Then to Karez. Agreed to have dinner instead of lunch in view of heat. Siesta. Later taken to bazaar (not a lot going on) and Emin Minaret, interesting. Dinner at what was described as best Uighur restaurant in town, very good with chilled home-brewed honey wheat beer which was to die for. Oasis Hotel, Turpan
WARNING: This was the only bad place we stopped in seven weeks.

31 May
Tuyaq Valley, interesting walk through village up to caves. Not over-impressed by Flaming Mountains, not much different to what seen elsewhere. Short visit to Gaochang, very hot, donkey cart ride to centre and walk to temple. Not as interesting as Jiaohe but would have liked longer had it not been as hot. Drive to Bezeklik worthwhile drive but caves unexceptional, heat getting through to us. Good lunch and more beer though! Long siesta, short, humid walk and naan from baker at hotel gate. Oasis Hotel, Turpan

1 June
At station in good time for 1209 train looked round stalls outside. First hour of train boring but then climb up into and through mountains excellent both in scenic and engineering terms. Quite nice having a day with nothing much to do but sit and look - and be reasonably cool in air conditioning. Night on train

2 June
Arrival (1104) at Kashgar a real culture shock in terms of faces, language and feel of town. Now very much on local rather than Beijing time. Nothing arranged so wandered in Old Town, siesta, then out to suss out restaurants for meal. Chose Javlan sitting outside under vines, menu (but not waitress) in English. Barony Hotel, Kashgar

3 June
Early start for Karakul Lake on good day. Drive up and back stupendous. Reasonable lunch at lake but disappointed by lake itself and associated horse/camel/ger rides. Went for walk for couple of hours along shore. No real altitude problems, but legs tired on slopes and slight headache. (On hearing we had not been to altitude before guide insisted we had an oxygen bag in car.) Dinner at Entezar, which we preferred to Javlan. Barony Hotel, Kashgar

4 June
Went to Id Kah Mosque and round part of handicraft area of Old Town. As we had not been there for Sunday Market (which guide himself and other tourists we met felt was becoming too much of a tourist attraction) guide suggested we pay for extra distance and go to Awat Village where there was a market which was still very traditional. Absolutely brilliant idea, place was incredible and no other tourists in sight. Sat on bench eating naan and drinking tea watching the locals and trying to ignore the sheep's head by Eleanor's feet, which became difficult when the stallholder starting pointing outs its finer points to a prospective buyer. This was very much what we hoped to see in China (life in the market, not the sheep's head) and is perhaps one of the greatest memories. Back to Kashgar and Old Town, even though we had already seen most of the places we went doing it again with guide was very worthwhile as we got a lot of information we would not otherwise have got. Barony Hotel, Kashgar

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