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Yarkand Travel Blog

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Yarkand old town

About 200km east of Kashgar on the southern branch of the Silk Road road the highway 219 branches from the main road and heads south into Tibet.  This road is closed to foreigners but is a well known back way into Tibet and the police around this area knowing this well are wary of western travellers.

We decide to take a day trip from Kashgar to Yarkand, which we believe takes 3 hrs each way by bus.  Yarkand is the ancient capital of this area and has an unrestored (ie real) old town and an interesting mosque.   The bus leaves at 9:30, all looks good.

We perhaps should not have been too surprised when the police checkpoint about one hour before Yarkand seem very interested in us and our plans.

Tombs near the mosque
They seem unconvinced by our story that we will be returning to Kashgar tonight.  After some deliberation over our passports, some lively discussion and a mobile phone call to headquarters we are permitted to continue, but the bus driver is instructed to deliver us up to the police who will be waiting for us at the bus station in Yarkand.  Sure enough two police, one uniformed and one plain clothes and obviously more senior, meet us at the bus in Yarkand.  We fully expect to be put back on the next bus back to Kashgar but instead the police are polite and after a brief check of our papers are happy for us to tour the town and catch a bus back at our leisure.

One reason why the police find our plans strange is that Yarkand is a good bit more than three hours from Kashgar.

Instruments for sale
  The road is in poor condition and the buses can only drive slowly, so four and a half hours after setting off when we still have still not arrived and I am beginning to wonder whether we will even manage to catch a bus back today, never mind the thought of seeing the town.   By the time we have police clearance it is almost 2:30 and we have not even had lunch! 

However there are plenty of buses back and the town is compact so we do manage to have lunch, see the old town, the mosque the cemetary and the mausoleum and make it back to Kashgar, but it makes for a long day.  On the return trip we stop at the police checkpoint again but the police are uninterested in us, which is a little disappointing but probably just as well. 

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Yarkand old town
Yarkand old town
Tombs near the mosque
Tombs near the mosque
Instruments for sale
Instruments for sale
Mausoleum in Yarkand
Mausoleum in Yarkand
Yarkand
photo by: Riz7