After almost 2 weeks in the Xinjiang province, home of the Uyghurs, time had come to discover the second province in China. The first stop in the Gansu province was Jiayuguan, known for the western end of the Great Wall during the Ming dynasty.
After my first experiences around the Western part of the Takla Makan desert, some more were to follow in Turpan. The city lies in a very dry region far below sea level. The information one usually gets about the weather in the region is that temperatures reach about 50Â°C. Little is being written about winter in Turpan.
From Hotan on the Southern silk road around the Takla Makan I took the bus across the desert to the Northern silk road to Kuqa. Kuqa is famous for the Buddhist elements on the silk road, of which I did not see anything. I realized that there would be more possibilities to visit Buddhist caves on my trip and to visit many other places there was no time due to unexpected turns of events.
My last destination on the Southern route of the silk road around the Takla Makan desert was the town of Hotan. Hotan is primarily known for its Sunday Market, Jade and carpet and silk factories, the latter especially to the tourists. I visited some of the attractions and had my first encounter with the topic of looking for accomodation in a Chinese city.
After the visit of Kashgar I intended to travel along the Southern route of the silk road around the Takla Makan desert to visit another Sunday Market, this time on a Sunday. I decided to stop in the city of Yarkand (Shache), which apparently had to offer an impressive market.
After the countries of Central Asia I crossed the last border of my trip entering a new culture. But the culture of the Uyghurs is not all that different from the Central Asian countries. But in Kashgar as anywhere in Xinjiang there live not only Uyghurs but in the meantime many Han-Chinese people.
For the beautiful country of Kyrgyzstan I had a visa for a whole month. Due to the low temperature and the snow there were not many activities possible though, such that I decided to move on to China as quickly as possible.
After the oriental and the Russian part followed the third yet again different part of Uzbekistan, which is the traditional Uzbek part in the Fergana Valley. The valley is the country’s most important agricultural region and is mainly settled by ethnic Uzbeks. One could observe this by the people’s dresses, their language and their religion.
After the oriental cities in Uzbekistan, Tashkent meant a big change. The capital of the central Asian country sports a majority of inhabitants of Russian descendence but also the architecture is very much influence by the Russian period.
One destination which appears on almost every itinerary through Central Asia is Samarkand. Timer made the city the capital of his empire in the 14th century, which reached all the way to modern day Istanbul. Today the city is known for its beautiful buildings, which survived many a storm during the past centuries.