It was this time last year that my wife and I came across a few pictures of the lakes of Xinjiang and decided to pack our bags and head north west.
We knew about the turmoil of life up there, we knew some of the history, and we knew something of Kashgar, but we were just heading for a holiday. We wanted to leave city life behind us and get up in the mountains and amongst the lakes. And, that is what we did. Though, while riding the trains and buses with the locals we did discover more than just the geography of the region. This is the Note I wrote upon returning to Xi’an last year.
I am going to add a small selection of the pictures we took as a nod towards the holiday season that is again just around the corner. I have split these photographs into two sets, one, simply entitled “Arid Lands”, one, “Lake Oases”. This is a simple distinction that represents the amazing contrasts that are encapsulated within the borders of Xinjiang: the lush, alpine valleys and immaculate mountain lakes, and the dry, arid towns and rocky desert-scapes. It is a region in China that is well worth discovering. (Part II – Lake Oases)
A quiet back street in the "new" old town of Shan Shan, near Turpan (تۇرپان - 吐魯番 - Tǔlǔfān)
A peaceful old street in Shan Shan, where many a multi-colored doorway opened up onto a secluded courtyard full of family life.
A desert pass east of Turpan (تۇرپان - 吐魯番 - Tǔlǔfān), not far from the aptly named Flaming Mountain. The ransacked Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves are further on down the road.
A business trip with a photo op. thrown in. The foothills of the Flaming Mountain are rising behind them.
A backstreet in the Old Town of Kashgar (قەشقەر - 喀什 - Kāshí), one of the few that still exists.
Breakfast being fetched in the same Old Town Kashgar (قەشقەر - 喀什 - Kāshí) backstreet.
This section of the Old Town in Kashgar is disappearing fast but I emerged here, having navigated my way around a warren of narrow lanes, to still find this lady cleaning the cobbles outside her home.
One of many isolated homes that stand amongst the rubble of other Old Town houses in Kashgar.
Lives are still being lived here but probably not for much longer.
A man still carrying on with his daily life while the rest of the neighbourhood disappears around him.
Kashgar school kids dressed up and happy.
A popular eatery just a short walk north of the Id Khar Mosque (héytgah meschit - 艾提尕尔 - àitígǎěr).
A great hostel wholly conducive to taking it easy after some serious travelling. There seemed to be an interesting bunch of travelers regularly passing through, many who had journeyed through central Asia, and a number who had done so on bikes. The courtyard that opens up behind those red doors is definitely a good place to chill out for a few days, as well as being a perfect base for wandering around the Old Town.
Tags: Flaming Mountain, Old Town Kashgar Kashgar, Shan Shan, Turpan, Xinjiang