After a few days in surprisingly pleasant Urumqi, we figured it was time to start heading west. West to the “Stans”.
Distances are big in China. Don’t let the crowded nature of this country fool you, it’s vast. We lucked out and managed to get sleeper seats for the 12-hour ride to Kuche, a town rarely visited by western tourists.
The train was surprisingly nice and we arrived relaxed. Good thing. We hadn’t booked a hotel and when we arrived we made the mistake of asking for a single room. Two guys in one room? Suddenly, the hotel was full! We hoofed our packs walked half an hour to the next hotel that we knew accepted foreigners (most don’t!). This time we requested two rooms and they were happy to have us.
Another 12-hour train journey brought us to Kashgar. We were very happy to make it to this once-famous hub on the Silk Road.
Kashgar’s old city is a treat to explore. Narrow streets bend and twist, making you feel like you’re on a treasure hunt. Stumbling on some Stalinist propaganda is a thrill.
At other times, this city feels like a bit of a theme park for bus loads of tourists from Eastern China.
Security is very evident in Kashgar. Even walking down certain streets requires going through a metal detector and showing ID. For the locals, that is. We got waived through.
We’ve really enjoyed Kashgar, authentic or careful recreated theme park. Now we must continue our journey west!