Silk Road, Kashgar and Urumqi

Old Jun 20th, 2009, 06:52 PM
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Silk Road, Kashgar and Urumqi

I am going to Beijing and use this as a jumping off point for an independent tour of the silk road..I am thinking of Dunhaung, Urumqi, defintely Kasgar and maybe Khotan but that is not really necessary....but Kashgar for sure and I would go just for that....can anyone tell me what is the best way there.,.train or air and what direction first ( ie. train or air to Urumqi then air to Kashgar, etc..) How are hotels for a senior guy just bouncing into town...and is April a good month..I am ok with the cold..I do not like the heat of summer.
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Old Jun 20th, 2009, 08:36 PM
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Train will be more comfortable than bus. Consider adding Turfan. Khotan isn't on the rail line but is worth the effort to reach, especially as I hear that more and more of Kashgar is being knocked down and rebuilt. It's also worth trying to drive partway up the Karakoram Highway beyond Kashgar, to Karakul and Tashkurgan, although this is probably NOT a good time to plan to cross to Pakistan.
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Old Jun 21st, 2009, 09:30 AM
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Thanks, air is much too expensive I take it....?? Train is ok with me on a soft sleeper berth...2 days is not bad at all for the trek to Urumqi. Can one get off anytime like at Dunhuang and Turpan..?? Khotan, this place is east of Kashgar ..? What's best way..bus or air..?

I appreciate your feedback..last question is April too cold.?
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Old Jun 21st, 2009, 09:51 AM
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I much prefer to travel on the ground, so I don't know what the air fares are. Not sure whether there's a flight to Khotan - it's on the south side of the Taklamaklan. See seat61.com for links to sites that may have Chinese train timetables (or search here for PeterN_H's recent post on that subject).

The problem tends to be heat not cold, unless you go up the Karakoram. I went in late August and it was definitely not cold!
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Old Jun 21st, 2009, 11:16 PM
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much appreciated for the websites...that british fella on seat61.com is real good....
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Old Jun 26th, 2009, 08:32 PM
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In 2006 we flew from Shanghai to Urumqi & i belive our airfare rt was $750. We hired a guide and driver (very inexpensive) and went to Turfan & Heaven Lake. Then we flew to Kashgar, & hired a driver & guide for a day long trip up the Karokoram Highway. Xinjiang province is one of the most amazing places i have been to. Will you be in Kashgar for the Sunday market? A must see!!! We were there in May and the weather was comfortable. We did go horseback riding in the mountains on the Turfan/Heaven Lake portion of the trip & the weather was freezing in the mountains. We had just come from the hot desert, too.

In Kashgar we stayed at the former Russian consulate. Stayed in a yurt in Heaven Lake. Stayed in interesting hotel in Turfan but don't remember the name. HOtel in Urumqi was nondescript. Not great but not horrible.

Have a great trip!
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Old Jun 27th, 2009, 11:34 AM
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Thank you Kwoo...much appreciated info..I am going to take it and do the same....traveling in late April maybe colder than May but I do much better in cold than heat...for now i plan to take the train from beijing to Urumqi with the hopes that I can stop off at Dunhuang and Jiayuguan also...before I hit Urumqi....I do have a contact for guide in Urumqi...then fly to Kashgar...Kashgar defintely for the bazaar..that is my whole reason for the silk road adventure....and then fly back to the coast wither to Shagnhai or back to beijing...

What were your contacts for the yurt tent overnight..I would like to do that also...however, I read that the locals there are hard bargainers for the night..??

Will check the Russian Consulate hotel..what is the present name..? On the internet..?
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Old Jun 28th, 2009, 07:37 PM
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I'm sorry but I don't remember the name of the Russian Consulate hotel in Kashgar. Maybe you could do a google search. just enter former Russian Consulate in Kashgar & see what comes up. There is also a travel agency that operates out of that hotel.

Unfortunately, I don't remember the name of the contact in Urumqi for the yurt & I didn't keep a business card. When we landed at the airport in Urumqi, there were tons of taxi drivers there. One who approached us had friends who owned a travel agency in Urumqi & drove us to the agency. They made the arrangements for a driver & guide for us. I remember it was very inexpensive. My daughter was living in China at the time, she speaks Mandarin & traveled extensively throughout China. She knew it was common to travel this i.e. use taxi drivers who wait at the airports.

Just realized you said you have a contact for a guide in Urumqi. Ask the guide about the yurt. I don't remember what we paid (I should have kept better notes) but I remember thinking that all the prices were reasonable.
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Old Jun 28th, 2009, 08:06 PM
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The hotel in the former Russian consulate is the Seman. I stayed in the hotel in the former British consulate, the Chini Bagh (or Qiniwake). I don't know that there's much to choose between them, but the Chini Bagh looked slightly better when I was there. It's a bit out of date (2001), but maybe you'd be interested in my TR - see www.wilhelmswords.com/asia2001
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Old Jun 28th, 2009, 11:25 PM
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Much obliged..both to you Kwoo and thursdaysd...I did research and answered my own question as to the hotels in Kashgar..but thanks for your info anyway.....and more. TR your blog was great with pictures and all too....Kwo check it out also.
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Old Jun 29th, 2009, 05:41 AM
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Glad you liked the TR. Forgot to say, for more pix see http://kwilhelm.smugmug.com/Travel/293904
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Old Jun 29th, 2009, 07:53 AM
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Urumqi is a city little different from any other third-tier city in China, a diversion off the route you seem to be considering, and not really worth your time.

You could consider flying to Dunhuang and doing the rest by rail, although bus services to Hami from Dunhuang take you on the old trade route across the narrow connection between the Gobi and Taklamakan, and through the border pass vividly described by the missionaries Cable and French in the early 20th century. You should not omit Turpan (Tulufan, reachable from Hami by bus), and travelling around the top of the Taklamakan should consider a stop at Kucha (Kuqa). There is a direct route across the desert from north to south that will get you to Knotan (Hetian) without going all the way round via Kashgar. See guide books to the region for fuller descriptions.

Old Kashgar has largely been pulled down in recent weeks (see news reports and blogs), so you'll find more surviving Uighur culture at the smaller cities on the north and south sides of the desert (particularly the latter, which hasn't been reached by rail yet).

Peter N-H
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Old Jun 29th, 2009, 08:21 AM
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PeterN_H,
I feel very sad and distressed that Old Kashgar has been destroyed. Walking through Old Kashgar and visiting the Sunday market were highlights of our trip. I remember there were many families living in Old Kashgar and we have some fabulous photos of the children. Have these families been relocated somewhere?
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Old Jun 30th, 2009, 09:04 AM
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Thanks Peter..I will take that advice also of going to Dunhuang air then train to Urumqi..that would cut down travel time and still give me the train trek portion of the western "outback"...which I think would be more the interesting part.also thanks for the sugestion of going thru the desert N-S to Khotan...I agre that way would better..just depends on my plans whether I go to Kashgar first.

Kwoo...I looked up the hotels on google and they had some great pictures...I recently read an article that the locals are moving west to other countries since the tearing down of Old Kashgar...they don't feel part of the ethnic Chinese people..more with the other Muslim countries..I don't blame them.
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