Back home again, after a one month trip through the South Silk Road from Kashgar to Xining. The reasons to made the itinerary backwards (Camel caravans said they were descending, as opposite to ascending when going towards the West, and caravan etiquette rules were different when going up. The reasons are explained in this entry of the blog :
This proved to be a good idea, probably Police (I will analyse the subject in the next days) seemed somehow relieved that we were leaving the conflictive Xinjiang for the more peaceful Qinghai. Probably we would have been stopped and sent back home should we have gone in the opposite direction.
We were a small group of people who did not know one another beforehand. My idea (which, by the way, facts proved be totally wrong) is that we will be traveling at the same time, but not together (aka. each one of us would make its own reservation, and eventually we would met for some of the stages). I will go back to these also in the last part of the blog
The trip may be divided in four Sections
Section 1: from Kashgar to Hetian, May 17 to May 20. This stage, supposed to be one of the easiest, become the most complex, and the trip almost finished in Hetian.
Do not expect to find this… Kashgar old city.. it probably will have disappeared in the next months
Section 2: The “Oasis Towns”, from Hetian to Ruoqiang (Charkilik), May 22 to May 25. Route through the desert. Here we discovered that “the Silk Road” as such (camels, caravans and dusty villages it which time seems to have froze some centuries ago) does not exist anymore.
You will still find the roads going towards the villages like in Ella Maillart times, but donkey carts have been replaced by electrical carts, and trucks have killed all camel transport
Section 3: The Qaidam Basin, from Ruoqiang to Golmud, May 26 to May 28. The Qaidam basin is the Hydrographical Basin which extends from the Kunlun Mountains to Golmud. The last adventure section of the trip, although it may look with a little Photoshop
Section 4: The “Touristic Section” (Touristic, of course, to Chinese standards), from Golmud to Xining, May 31 to June 3
I will try to maintain two different lines in the following chapters, one, purely historic and geographical about our trip, and the other, some tricks of the trade, do’s and dont’s, what to expect, what do you need to know beforehand, and what are the tools you need to have in your luggage before arrival
And, of course, do not forget the curiosity of kids and bring some lollipops in your pocket (although, give them to their parents, of course)
If you have a question question, I will try to help, please feel free to send this contact form. I will do my best to answer it