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CHINA - South/West (Kunjerab, Karakul, Kashgar, ...)

It was not much hassle to cross the border and then we enjoyed a beautiful views on the mountains in Khunjerab National Park. Also Chinese border was without mayor delays and friendly enough not bags checking, so we passed to Taskurgant in the broad sunlight. Here we decided not to stay and took a shared jeep directly to Kashgar (100Juan). A bit pricey, but fast and comfortable.

He stopped for the taking pictures and on Kara Kul lake. We arrived to Kashgar before midnight Beiging time (10 pm Kashgar time, 9 pm Pakistan time). All China operates on the Beiging time, but all locals use the Kashgar time. The only official places taking Beiging time are banks, buses, ... Great dinner in the local Uyghur restaurant has nicely finished the day.

Jurts on Kara Kul Lake

Crossing onwards from the Pakistan, Uighur town of Kashgar was not as much of a difference. Though the Chinese influence is quite visible. Lots of changes came with the new train line a few years ago and of course lot more Han Chinese come with it too. The old city of Kashgar is slowly disappearing, making a space for the new development. Typical Chinese invasion - rebuild everything with an ugly modern houses, straight streets, big squares. They even have a sightseeing wheel - similar to London Eye there, overlooking the place with nothing to see. Its rather rusty look is not reassuring of its use and even safety.

Kashgar is famous for it's cuisine and honestly, after the Pakistan, the choice is just a great. Uighur food is tasty, consisting of many varieties. Especially focused on meat. But not only, you can find some nice pastries, local nan breads, cold noodles on the streets (local speciality). A bit shocking, but very popular are cooked goat heads or broth made out of them. All the bazaar areas and traditional crafts workshops meet at the big square with the main mosque. It is considered to be one of the biggest mosques in China. Nearby you can watch a chess players sitting under the trees and having their daily match.

Old town streets - Kashgar

I am in China. Hmm, rather a Muslim - Uighur area minority, which is very different to China mainland. And how to get from there to Tibet? Well, why not on the bicycle. Xinjiang - Tibet Highway is officially prohibited to tourists, especially independent travellers. Nowadays yo can pay a bit of money and get on the jeep organised by a travel agencies (around 1700 Juan from Kashgar). This one of the worlds most difficult road takes you almost 2.900km away from Kashgar. All the way to Lhasa.

Giant - cycling shop in Kashgar

So I went to check out one big bicycle shop - Giant Store - in Kashgar to see the possibilities for my cycling adventure. And a few hours later I left the place with a brand new mountain bike fitted with back panniers and everything else I could find for my journey. Still not being completely sure, what I am really doing I took my new "treasure" back to the hotel. Next few days I spent enjoying the cycling around the Kashgar, shopping supplies for the way and thinking, how on earth will I fit all my stuff on the bike. I could not get any front bags and so I eventually found a solution. I fitted one of the baskets there, making my bike really unique. The mechanic from the Giant Store was just holding his head, but he was really nice guy, who helped me a lot. And you might know my affection for a Crumpler logo (sorry Ta). Having a few stickers around I found a great way, how to personalise my new toy - a funky yellow sticker with a black drawing of a man on the front of the basket.

Fruit seller, Kashgar

KASHGAR - (1290 meters) One of the main trading posts on the silk road and melting post for all surrounding minorities of Tajiks, Uzbeks, Han Chinese and Uighurs - which holds the majority. Recent Han Chinese migration is slowly changing the numbers and Uighurs might soon become a minority in their own place.

Local craftsmen - Kashgar

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