Category: Xinjiang

A last kiss to Karakoram

July 12 The sun is out already by 4AM. I lie awake for sometime in my yurt. Both Jorg and Birdy are still asleep. Inside the yurt it is pitch black, but I can see little sparkles of light through the netting. I have a few quilts on me, and I feel a bit hot,

Mustagh Ata

It’s not easy to miss Mustagh Ata. This majestic mountain towers over Karakul Lake, a guardian of its peace. Surprisingly, for one of the tallest mountains in the world, Mustagh Ata looks pretty small. Both Jorg and I wonder why. We are already at an altitude of 3500m – is it because of that Mustagh

Karakoram Highway and Karakul Lake

July 10th It’s time to go through the usual rounds again – up early, have no breakfast, check out of the Qini Bagh, and rush to the Kashgar bus stand where we wait for tickets. Jorg is unwell, suffering from a bout of food poisoning. There is a hilarious incident when Jorg thinks that a

Kashgar Again

July 9th It’s still drizzling in the desert when we pack up and leave. I tried running before we left. It’s easier now that the sand is wet. In around 2 hours, we reach Kashgar, which strangely is bathed in hot sunshine. We laugh at the irony. It’s raining in the desert but hot in

Desert Adventures

Here was the plan. Pitch tent somewhere in the Taklamakan desert. Grill some meat and a potato or two. Have some wine. Lay back and see the countless stars that a desert sky provides you with. Wouldn’t that be the life? Life, as it turns out, is more than you dream of. Even when the

The Taklamakan

July 8th Kashgar’s sun signs a bright midday-kind of heat even though it’s early morning. The skies are crystal blue, and today would be the Karakoram Highway. This is what I was looking forward to – the entire reason why I chose Xinjiang once I realized that Tibet would not be possible this time. We

Kashgar

July 7th Kashgar or Kashi – this famed city of the Silk Route. It’s history is beguiling, but the city isn’t. It’s a city that is closer to Baghdad than Beijing. It’s a city where you can see snow-capped mountains in the morning, and then the vastness of the Taklamakan Desert in the afternoon. It’s

Chaos in Korla

July 5th and 6th I refused to rouse myself from the cozy cool environs of John’s Cafe as Turpan’s torpid heat envelops me. Jorg and Birdy are not to be deterred and go to a nearby mosque, on cycles no less. I glug a can of Diet Coke, and allow myself to wilt in the

Sightseeing Turpan

July 4th Unlike the hazy, cloudy day that greeted us yesterday in  Turpan, today, as I draw the curtains across and peep  outside, blue skies smile back. I can see the bazaar from here – but despite it being 8AM, the shops and the market, restaurants are all shut. I puzzle over this. In Chengdu,

Turpan Arrives

July 2nd and 3rd As the train chugs into Gansu Province, the landscape changes. Green gives way to brown. Gansu in Chinese means “dry,” and the  province is doing well to stick to that name. For hours together I watch an endless panorama of nothingness pass through. These are not the sandy desert dunes that