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Silk Road: Korla to Kashgar, 2013/06

In Brief: Photos from our maiden voyage along a lesser-travelled section of the Silk Road in Xinjiang Province.

some recognisable,Beijing Hikers Korla to Kashgar 2013/06/10

Dried goods for sale in Kashgar’s Old City.

In July we made a seven day road trip along a lesser-travelled section of the Silk Road, heading west to Kashgar and passing through obscure yet interesting cities and towns like Korla, Kuqa,and Aksu.

The Silk Road has several branches in Xinjiang, and the branch we followed counts as the southern one.

All up, we covered almost 1,500km on the trip – a long one! On the way we enjoyed picnics at scenic spots, we did some hiking in hills and valleys, we visited China’s second-largest mosque, and we spent a night camping, almost getting washed out in an unexpected rainstorm! Another unexpected happening was the loss of our camera, so the photos we have below are all from the camera on Huijie’s phone.

airport via Urumqi,Beijing Hikers Korla to Kashgar 2013/06/10

We flew to Korla’s tiny airport via Urumqi

obscure spot,Beijing Hikers Korla to Kashgar 2013/06/10

Near Korla is an ancient pass on the Silk Road called Tiemenguan – the Iron Gate Pass. It was a military checkpoint from the Tang Dynasty (618– 907). The leader of our jeep team, Mr. Li, is a Korla native, and he helped us find this obscure spot.

Silk Road,Beijing Hikers Korla to Kashgar,2013/06/10

The Iron Gate controls access to this narrow pass through the mountains, one of the many forks on the Silk Road.

sandstone landform,Beijing Hikers Korla to Kashgar 2013/06/10

On the way to Kuqa we stopped for a hike in the eroded valleys of this sandstone landform.

Old City,Beijing Hikers Korla to Kashgar 2013/06/10

This old house in Kuqa city is more than 100 years old, a relic of older times. Kuqa was one of the Four Garrisons of Anxi, active during the Tang Dynasty. Later, during the eighth century, Kucha became the center of the Uyghur Kingdom. We enjoyed Kuqa a lot, not least because it’s a lot like Kashgar’s Old City used to be.

in the desert, Beijing Hikers Korla to Kashgar 2013/06/10

On the way to Aksu, we stopped to look at the remains of Subashi, an ancient city in the desert. Subashi was notable for its huge Buddhist temple. The use of the temple peaked between the sixth and eighth centuries, at which time it was home to more than 10,000.

Chivalry,Beijing Hikers Korla to Kashgar 2013/06/10

Chivalry lives on at Beijing Hikers.

sandstone hills,Beijing Hikers Korla to Kashgar 2013/06/10

Eroded sandstone hills.

Big, Beijing Hikers Korla to Kashgar 2013/06/10

This cliff is poetically named the “Small Potala Palace”. It looks a little like the “Big” Potala Palace in Lhasa, if you use your imagination a little.

on the road, Beijing Hikers Korla to Kashgar 2013/06/10

More interesting land forms seen while on the road.

Red Stone Forest,Beijing Hikers Korla to Kashgar 2013/06/10

This narrow gully took us into the Valley of the Red Stone Forest.

along the way,Beijing Hikers Korla to Kashgar 2013/06/10

One of our numerous picnics along the way.

Another view of,,Beijing Hikers Korla to Kashgar 2013/06/10

Another view of Valley of the Red Stone Forest.

Clouds over, Beijing Hikers Korla to Kashgar 2013/06/10

Clouds over the Valley of the Red Stone Forest.

skewers for us,Beijing Hikers Korla to Kashgar 2013/06/10

Driver “Da Tou” cooking up some lamb skewers for us.

from the campsite, Beijing Hikers Korla to Kashgar 2013/06/10

We camped here over night - a very nice view from the campsite.

sandstone landform,,Beijing Hikers Korla to Kashgar 2013/06/10

This beautiful rainbow over the Valley of the Stone Forest was a reward for enduring a storm that blew up quickly.

the rainbow,Beijing Hikers Korla to Kashgar 2013/06/10

The Silk Road adventurers under the rainbow.

near the campsite,Beijing Hikers Korla to Kashgar 2013/06/10

Another shot of the crags and outcrops near the campsite.

Dinner time, Beijing Hikers Korla to Kashgar 2013/06/10

Dinner time – a feast!

More skewers to eat, Beijing Hikers Korla to Kashgar 2013/06/10

More skewers to eat.

hiking, Beijing Hikers Korla to Kashgar 2013/06/10

We did more hiking, this time through what’s called the “City of the Devils” landform.

Ridge walking,Beijing Hikers Korla to Kashgar 2013/06/10

Ridge walking in the “City of the Devils” landform.

rock tower,Beijing Hikers Korla to Kashgar 2013/06/10

We walked below a fantastically-shaped rock tower.

Coloured,Beijing Hikers Korla to Kashgar 2013/06/10

Coloured hills and rocks

Mars,Beijing Hikers Korla to Kashgar 2013/06/10

We decided that we’d call this area “Mars”.

rain,Beijing Hikers Korla to Kashgar 2013/06/10

The colours were extra vivid after rain.

Picnic time,Beijing Hikers Korla to Kashgar 2013/06/10

Picnic time.

Old City,Beijing Hikers Korla to Kashgar 2013/06/10

Our last stop on the trip was Kashgar. Here’s a view of the edge of the Old City.

a potter at work, Beijing Hikers Korla to Kashgar 2013/06/10

Walking through the Old City of Kashgar we saw a lot of interesting sights. Here, a potter at work.

sharing lunch,Beijing Hikers Korla to Kashgar 2013/06/10

In the Old City we saw these old friends sharing lunch.

Yoghurt for sale,Beijing Hikers Korla to Kashgar 2013/06/10

Yoghurt for sale.

rabbits as well,Beijing Hikers Korla to Kashgar 2013/06/10

A butcher displays a selection of lamb and mutton cuts. Looks like he had some rabbits as well!

Shoeing a horse,Beijing Hikers Korla to Kashgar 2013/06/10

Shoeing a horse.

some recognisable,Beijing Hikers Korla to Kashgar 2013/06/10

Dried goods for sale – some recognisable, some not!

silkworm cocoons,Beijing Hikers Korla to Kashgar 2013/06/10

Eggs? No? They’re silkworm cocoons.

Kashgar’s,Beijing Hikers Korla to Kashgar2013/06/10

Kashgar’s famous livestock market.

livestock market,Beijing Hikers Korla to Kashgar 2013/06/10

We took a stroll through the grounds of the livestock market.

Breakfast, Beijing Hikers Korla to Kashgar 2013/06/10

Breakfast is served at the livestock market.

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