Karghilik Travel Blog

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It's a very long way to Hotan from pretty much anywhere else. To the south lie mountains, hundreds of miles of Tibetan plateau. West is desert; east is desert; north is desert and then the Siberian forest of northern Xinjiang and Kazakhstan. I was on my way west to Kashgar, but stopped for a night in Karghilik to break the journey.

In the town, I did my usal trick of wandering around at random, still marvelling occasionally at the fact that I'm in Asia and not Birmingham. And in doing these things I got thoroughly, thoroughly lost. Unlike Hotan, Karghilik isn't divided into Uighur and Chinese quarters: the Chinese seem to populate the main streets (mobile phone shops, white tiles, cars) while the Uighurs take the back alleys (fruit and veg markets, mud bricks, donkeys). Unfortunately all the Chinese bits look the same, as do all the Uighur bits, and I hadn't a clue where I was. All I knew was that my hotel was next to the bus station. My ingenious solution: get in a taxi and draw a little picture of a bus in my notebook for the driver. Success! Thank Gawd, cos I'm not sure what I would have done if it'd failed...

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