• Tag Archives Hotan
  • May 10: Keriya-Niya (125 Km) by local bus. Traveling the South Silk Road

    Relax 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.

    8134650999_1dbce92322Other 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.


    To May 2017 Trip:
    2017: Hotan Keriya
    May 2017: General View of the trip Part 1
    May 2017: General View of the trip Part 2

    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

    Contact Form

    Atacama. Chile

  • July 1935: Keriya-Khotan by Camel Train

    MongolCamelTrain&GlacierJuly, 1st, 1935, Ella and Peter left Keriya. They left there the Byronian-eyed camel “Pearl of the Tsaidam”, also camel Number 2, and Cynara, the mare that Peter traded for Greys at Issik Pakte, when it was clear that Greys cannot continue. Their caravan was a small one, although impressive: Four donkeys, Kini’s stallion (rather sick) and a horse with old galls for Peter, plus Aziz, their guide, and Tuzun Ahun, a guard with his horse who had received orders from the aksalal in Tchertchen to convey them to Kaskgar. That was impressive!

    And really, it seems that Peter did not like too much this part of the trip:

    “and before the stage was half over, I discovered that his back was a mass of old galls. So I did the last three hours on foot”

    “I found the others in a place called Karaki, where no food of any sort was available”

    “Next day we started early. I abandoned my horse and did a grilling nine-hour march on foot”

    “At noon we we went on, the heat was terrible” (by the way, we will be there two months early which is not bad)

    “Towards dusk, we came to Chira (…) to hot and tired to care that I was loosing face by traveling on foot”

    “Our inn, in Chira, was grubby and unspacious. Flies, which now played in our life the baleful part formerly allotted, by an inscrutable Providence, to mosquitoes, abounded” (of course we should expect flies, mosquitoes, and probably some fleas, too)

    “Our miserable donkeys from Chira were played out (..)”

    and it goes on and on, until the Caravan arrives to Khotan (Hotan), on July 6, 1935, after 5 miserable stages, although sleeping in oasis: Kariki, Chira, Bäshtograk and Lop

    It is important to note that almost all the humankind has traveled as they did, during 3.000 years and even more. This kind of travel now is a choice, as travelers on the “Camino de Santiago” know well.

    After the photo you will find links, Photos information, contact form and area map


    To May 2017 Trip:
    2017: Hotan Keriya
    May 2017: General View of the trip Part 1
    May 2017: General View of the trip Part 2

    From Internet

    Contact Form

    Area Map

  • May 8, 2017: Hotan-Keriya (301 Km, by bus)

    f04da2db148411a79e562dFor Ella and Peter it was the end of the desert part of their trip. It will be the begin of ours. Our initial contact with traveling outside the beaten paths. First stage, 301 km, by bus if possible, if not through shared taxi. What to see in this part of the trip: Towards South, at 50 km the Kunlun Range, that form the South border of the Taklamakan. The peaks in the area between Hotan and Keriya are 7 and 6.000 meters high.

    Let us talk about bus travel. If you do searches in Internet about bus travel you will find a lot of horrible accidents. Of course, there are bus accidents, as there are plane accidents, and all of them are quite picturesque. So, they generate a lot of pictures. Traveling by road in China is, of course more dangerous than traveling by train or by plane, but it is not like a death penalty. We will (probably 🙂 ) survive to accidents, although surviving to 50 chinese fellow travelers may seem some times difficult. So, we will start light, with a 300 Km first stage, from Hotan to Keriya and one day stop in Keriya afterwards. Really there is not a lot to see in Keriya (Lonely Planet remains silent about it). There is a mosque, and the typical (I imagine dusty) life of a small oasis city on the fringes of the desert.


    This stop will be to discuss, to analyze, to reset expectations eventually.

    This part of the trip (or probably the whole trip) is about countrysides, desert life, and people more than about cities, or going to places

    This is what I expect to see on the right side of the road: 325729

    and this on the left side


    and this in front


    but of course, I do not know if visibility through the windows of and old chinese bus will be enough, if we will not be to tired to do anything other than to sleep… so many questions, so few answers!


    Link to: Trip Itinerary Part I

    Photo Credits: From the Internet
    Featured photo: Kumlun Range from above with the Taklamakan
    Mosque in Keriya
    Kumlun range from the distance (although probably we will be farther away)
    Takla Makan
    Again, Kumlun Range

    Don’t be shy and use this Contact Form (or skip it and jump to the map)

  • Xinjiang-Qinghai trip May 2017: Highlights. Part 1 (Level of difficulty: 3 in a scale of 5)

    Altun-Mountains-InternationalHunting-FieldThis is the first part of the summary of the stages of the journey, the easy part, from Kashgar to Charkilik, (1.400 km), two full weeks, traveling from city to city, by Railway first, by bus later. No problems are forecasted. If possible I will try to organize a tour on the roads of the desert, following the Cherchen river. There are nice photographs for this area in Google Earth

    The second part has a part of mystery, the Altun Mountains, the frontier between Xinjiang, and the Uyghurs and the Qinghai and the Mongols, from the Taklamakan to the Tsaidam. Although everything is China, paved roads East of Charkilik are scarce. In the next post I will present the alternatives from Charkilik to Xinning.

    I will comment each stage in further posts, in the meanwhile, feel free to add your comments, or join me through the contact form at the end of this post, I will send you the Google Earth waypoints and and I will keep you updated

    The map setup as featured image shows the principal cities in the trip, all in the South of the Takla-Makan

    This is the plan:

    Wednesday May 3, 2017 (yes, is not a typo, 2017, so, you are still on time to join 🙂 : arrival to Kashgar, start of the trip. Visit to the city and the market, but reserving Sunday market to Hotan
    Two days in Kashgar

    Friday May 5: Kashgar-Hotan (485 Km) by train. Of course, we will skip some Oasis cities (amongst them Kargilik and Guma) but there is no a lot of things to see in there… and there is also the Uyghur unrest in this area, and Westerners may seem as chick peas in a dish of green peas. Visible, to say the least.

    Saturday May 6: free in Hotan

    Sunday May 7: Hotan Sunday market, quite more original than Kashgar, this is a link ‘s

    Monday May 8: Hotan-Keriya (301 Km) by local bus. Lonely Planet does not say anything about this city, but, as it may be the first really exotic place. I propose to stay one full day to get acquainted with the journey, and to take a break after the first stage in bus.

    Tuesday, May 9: Keriya.

    Wednesday May 10: Keriya-Niya (125 Km) by local bus. Same as above… nothing to see there, but it would be a shame to go directly, non-stop to Qiemo (Cherchen)

    Thursday May 11: Niya. Sip green tea, and look for a camel to make a selfie riding it.

    Friday, May 12: Niya-Qiemo (200 Km) by local bus, or, eventually, people more fond of “couleur locale”, may step down at Kamagazi and see the Ruins of Endere

    Saturday, May 13 to Monday May 15: Qiemo. It would be nice if we can organize a tour in the desert to reach the next stage, Charkilik by a diverted path: Following North East the Cherchen river through several villages, to the road 218 (Ruoqiang-Korla), and then making a right to Charkilik, 50 Km away

    Tuesday, May 16: Option A (simple and direct), Qiemo-Charkilik (315 Km) by bus. With the option to stop in Washari and organize a shorter tour through the desert

    Wednesday May 17: free (either lost in the desert 🙂 ) , or sleeping in a truckers khan in Washari

    Thursday, May 18 to Saturday 20: Free in Charkilik

    Until here this is the easy part. From Charkilik, there are almost no paved roads going West. A blogger said that there is a minibus leaving everyday towards West (at least, it existed in 2014) to provide transportation for mine workers to the asbestos mines in Mangnai which is already in the Qinghai.From the mines there are buses or transportation to Golmud or the Transdesert Highway.

    2011-01-09 at 12-44-40

    Contact Form to get the .kmz (Google Earth) file with the itinerary

  • Oasis cities between Kasghar and Hotan

    Between Kashgar and Hotan there are several “Oasis cities”, and there is also a train that links these two cities. After Hotan, the true journey starts.

    So, the question is: should we stop in these Oasis Cities, that Kini and Peter visited back in July 1939?. If we want to follow their steps, of course, we need to stop there. Finally, the theme of the journey is “on the steps of Ella and Peter”. We already do the trip backwards, from West to East, should we continue skipping historical cities, cities that were the melting pot of cultures, the places were caravans from India to China came and went?

    But, from the other side.. should we stop, if there is nothing interesting to see in there, simply because “Ella slept there”?.

    Then, I went to the sources. And this is what I found

    a blogger says:
    “The towns of southern Xinjiang are a thing of themselves.  Unlike Kashgar.  Very Uighur, very old, tradition seeping from the very trees.  The donkey cart to taxi ratio in the outskirts of Kargilik was about 2:1.  Donkeys, horses, street stalls full of smoked meat, pilaf and fruit piling over dusty streets in the brown-black of early evening.”

    This blogger says, between lines, that really Kashgar is more a Chinese city than a Uighur one.

    Another one:
    “The first stop was Yengisar; essentially a one road town. The only thing we could see was an array of knife shops along the highway, for which the town is famous. The knives were actually quite nice, with inlaid handles of bone, wood, and metal and carvings of Uighur or Chinese script or dragons along the blades. Next stop was Yarkand for lunch”

    Mosque, Karghilik, Kashgar Prefecture, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China.
    Mosque, Karghilik, Kashgar Prefecture, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China.

    To visit a one road town and knife manufacturing is not of great interest.

    Lonely Planet
    “Kargilik is of importance to travelers as the springboard to the fantastically remote HWY 219, the Xinjiang-Tibet Highway (…) The main attraction in town is the 15th-century Friday Mosque and the surrounding adobe-walled back-streets of the Old Town”

    Friday Mosque … here it is, At left:

    This may be very cultural, very historical, very important, but.. should we stop for one day to see this?

    and comments in different blogs are similar (links are at the end of the blog)

    So, adding this to the Uighur unrest “It is best to check conditions in Kashgar before heading out there” (Lonely Planet, Xinjiang guide), it makes me think about the aim of the journey, which is not visiting cities, and following the “must see” signs, but the journey by itself.

    I want to become fascinated by thee solitude of Deserts, and enthralled the hectic pace and odors of the markets. And, if, on my trip, I am able to capture the moment of the smile of a couple, or the ambiance of a bar in a dusty mining city, this is what I look for

    And if I skip the Jama Mashid… well, let it be.

    2008-05-12 at 16-57-40

    Photo Credits: Bazaar and Karghilik Mosque (from Internet)
    Bar in CopiapĂł (Chile), and sad couple in Plaza del Zocalo (Ciudad de Mexico): Author

    Links to blogs
    Blog from an Expat in Urumqi: Uighur Tensions in Xinjiang

    A trip on the Southern Silk Road


  • To be or not to be in Sunday’s Market: Kashgar or Hotan?

    2006-04-10 at 15-22-48The traveler needs to take difficult decisions all the time: Avis or Hertz, MacDonald or Burger King, Sunday market in Kashgar or in Hotan? Because both cities are not far away (well, if 485 Km is not far away) and both have a reputed Market on Sunday.

    So, it has any sense to see both markets, and wander for one week into the Chinese Far West? Probably not, so, let us read the guide: “No visit (to Kashgar) is complete without a trip to the livestock market (…) The day begins with Uighurs farmers and herders trekking into the city from nearby villages. “. Well, it seems interesting, but … “tour buses usually arrive in the morning, so consider an early afternoon visit”.

    Well, this is the decision, do we really pinpoint a Sunday in Kashgar to have a “complete” visit, in coincidence with the Tourist Tours? or even, God forbids!, taking a “Morning Market Tour with Typical Samsa breakfast” ?. Not in my opinion, anyway. Markets are picturesque when they are genuine 2008-01-27 at 03-11-33. Traveler may not like what he sees, one of the more nightmarish visits that I have done is to the Guangzhou market in the nineties, but I do know that my interest on Kashgar market transforms in relative if I need to be there in the afternoon, when all deals are already done, to avoid hordes of tourists jumping off the cars.

    So, let us skip Kashgar Market on Sunday, and try to be in Hotan on Sunday: “The covered market bustles every day of the week but on Sunday. (…) most interesting parts are the doppy (skullcap) bazar, the colorful dyed, handwoven silk cloth market or the gilim (carpet) bazar. Nearby Juma Lu is filled with traditional medicine and spice shops.

    The small but authentic Sunday livestock bazar…

    Well, it is clear. I will never see the Kashgar Sunday Market. I feel like going to Pisa and not seeing the leaning tower.

    2006-04-10 at 17-05-01

    Image Credits
    Featured Image: Market in Chongking (1999) by Author
    two other photos:
    selling kittens: Guangzhou Market (1990)
    selling hens: Chengdu Market (1995)