Should I say that, speaking about Hotan, one of my guides says: “Hetian (sic) is an extremely dusty town – with very little charm”? Well, the same guide (the Silk Road by Judy Bonavia) says “In the desert east of Hotan, a tarred road leads towards Keriya, Niya, Qiemo and Karkilik. There is no much to see on the road and the small towns offer little attraction but for their lively and colorful markets”
So, one may wander why to go from an extremely dusty town to other places that offer little attraction, through a road where is no much to see ? and the answer to it is important, and it is, probably, the cornerstone of this journey. Different people may travel the South Silk Road for different reasons, to fulfill a dream, of course, but also to be a traveler who has done a difficult trip, out of the beaten paths, or because the traveler likes the ever changing light of the sand deserts, or because China fascines, or all these reasons. I love small, lost and dusty towns. I hate tourists (although I am one, of course).
Each person, doing a trip like this one, must accept that other fellow-travelers may have different expectations, and not everyone may be interested in waking up at three in the morning to see the sun rising on a sea of dunes, or like the idea of a day bus instead of a night bus, to see a road in with there is nothing to see.
Other people may be thrilled by the idea of following a mythical route, to go through Oasis Cities, to see pristine Asian bazars, to overcome difficulties (“meio” – impossible, is the most hear word by a foreign traveler in China), and finally, to go back with eyes full of images…
This is a very short stage (125 Km) and, afterwards, we will have two nights (assuming that we may find a hotel open to foreigners) and one full day. The afternoon of the first day may be devoted to see the sunset on the desert, or just staying there, strolling at the bazar. And, on the second day, we may hire a car with a driver to go to the old Niya, 115 km North supposing that the ruins can be visited without a permit.
Sleeping after a job well done (near Caldera Costa Rica). From the Author
Sea of dunes near Copiapo (Featured and last image) From the Author
Mosque in Niya: from the Internet