Offical Partner of

Official Partner of CFMoto
Home / Trip Diary / Days 49-52: Stranded in Kashgar

Days 49-52: Stranded in Kashgar

September 5th-8th; Kashgar

After the Kyrgyzstan border visit there was a lot of vegging going on on the part of team “Great Ride of China”. During the time of my border run, Amy was stuck alone in Kashgar, meaning she actually had quite a bit more time in the city than I had myself. Unfortunately, because we had to give over a week’s notice to the Tibet tour company of when we wanted to start from Kashgar and didn’t want to have to pay if they had to wait for us, we ended up having nearly a week of total down time.

The first couple of days we actually had a lot to do. We spent a lot of time catching up on things we had to do online as well as shopping we needed to do before heading into Tibet. This mainly meant camping food and cold weather gear like gloves and hats. The clothing turned out to be very difficult to find given that it was out of season. Nothing an afternoon wandering around Kashgar’s downtown couldn’t solve though!

Sightseeing in Kashgar

The major mosque in Kashgar. A short walk away from our hostel

The major mosque in Kashgar. A short walk away from our hostel

We spent some of our time sightseeing of course. Kashgar is quite a pretty city when you get out of the newer, more developed parts. It has a very heavy middle eastern influence, both in the architectural style as well as the culture of the local people (as I noted in the previous post, the local minority people here known as Uighur or 维族 bare almost no resemblance to the majority Han Chinese and their local dialect sounds and script very much resembles Arabic). Our hostel was located in a part of the old city and near the major mosque in town so we got to see a lot of the traditional daily life and old style homes without having to go very far. There was a market just down the street from us and lots of little shops including tailors, blacksmiths, copper-smiths, and butchers.

One of the ornately decorated doors in the terraced residences

One of the ornately decorated doors in the terraced residences

One of the major sights we went to go see was the terraced residences near the old town. The streets there were very narrow, which Amy said lent the neighborhood a European feel, so much so that no cars were able to enter the area. All the buildings seemed to be made of old clay and brick and, as the name implies, they were built terraced into a hillside. There were little courtyard homes occupied by local families (some of the homes going back generations within the same family). It had a very quaint feeling, as one might expect, with children playing on the cobbled streets, women with scarves covering their heads heating water for tea, and families selling hats, scarves and clothing out of their courtyards (whether they were locally made though was unclear).

It was actually a pleasant break from an otherwise bustling city. That didn’t last of course as from the terraced homes it was a short walk on to the Kashgar bazaar, a massive collection of shops packed together within a couple of city blocks. The market was organized into sections, depending on what you wanted to buy: one for household goods like tape and scissors, one for carpets, one for shoes, one for clothing, and much more!

A Different Kind Of Jet Lag

One weird thing about being out here in the far west of China is adjusting to the time. Officially, the time in Xinjiang, just as everywhere else in China, is set to Beijing time. However, because we are so far west, the position of the sun is the equivalent of about 2 hours earlier than Beijing time. This means that the sun rises at about 8:30am and sets at a quarter past 9. People still sort of adjust their lives though according to the time, but in an unofficial sort of way meaning that it’s sometimes hard to predict when things are busy and open, in particular meal times for example.

More Delays

Receiving our traditional scarves from our Tibet tour guide after his and the driver's arrival

Receiving our traditional scarves from our Tibet tour guide after his and the driver’s arrival

We hit an additional delay with our departure from Kashgar as we found out that the guide, who was driving from Lhasa to meet us, had left our gear that we sent to the Lhasa office (like cold weather sleeping bags, camping stove, altitude pills, etc.). It was going to take several more days to ship the packages which meant we would be delayed by at least one more day in Kashgar, possibly more. Quite a blow to morale not to mention our average. It’s tough being stuck in one place for so long, particularly when now we know we’ve got competition to stay ahead of!

Kashgar Hostel

Courtyard of the hostel

Courtyard of the hostel

Just a quick plug for anyone looking for a place to stay in Kashgar. The Kashgar Old Town Youth Hostel was a really great place for us to stay during our extended time in the city. It advertises as being part of the International Youth Hostel network of hostels and was probably one of the cleanest places we’ve stayed at on this trip so far. The hostel itself is built into an old style courtyard in the old town which makes for a great environment particularly as travelers from all over the world pass through and stay there. We met bicyclists from Germany, a hiker from Italy, Chinese tour groups headed to Tibet, and many more. It was also very affordable from RMB40 for dorm style accommodations up to RMB160 for private rooms with bathroom. The whole residence has free wifi and you can order breakfast for RMB10 (with actual coffee! First cup for us in nearly 2 months) as well as family style dinner for RMB20. Here’s a link for the hostel on Baidu maps if you’re interested. Great staff too!

About Buck

Buck, originally from New York, first came to China in 2006 traveling with some friends and immediately fell in love with the country, returning frequently including a semester studying at Tsinghua University in 2009. He finally moved to Beijing after graduating from the University of Toronto in 2010. He has a passion for adventure and travel, completing numerous long distance motorcycling and hiking trips around the U.S., Canada, and China including a circumnavigation of the U.S. (13,840km) and a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail (3,500km). When he's not wandering (and sometimes when he is), Buck works as a web developer and marketing consultant in Beijing.