Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Travels in Xinjiang

Sorry for the silence, I've been in China for two months, enjoying a life of Uighur kebabs and Tibetan butter tea. The Chinese authorities block Blogspot, as they do Facebook and most other Western social media sites, so I haven't been able to post anything.

Five weeks in Xinjiang brought me back to several of the locations I visited in the Marco Polo Reloaded films (Kashgar and Hotan) and allowed me to trace the Taklamakan Desert along the southern Silk Road, from Hotan on to Charklik.

One of the highlights for me was tracking down the region's great history. Archaeology nuts will like the following faded remnants of Xinjiang's once-thriving Buddhist heritage:

Buddhist stupa surrounded by stupa bases, Yarkhoto (Jiaohe), outside Turpan

Mor pagoda, in the desert outside Kashgar

two-thousand-year-old Han dynasty watchtower, outside Kuqa

Subashi Buddhist ruins, outside Kuqa

I was also excited to finally make it out to the impressive Shipton's Arch, an hour or so outside Kashgar, off the road to the Irkeshtam Pass. Thanks to Ali of Uighur Tour for helping to make that happen.

When in Kashgar, fans of Peter Hopkirk's book 'The Great Game' should visit the former British Consulate at the back of the Chini Bagh Hotel's north building. It's currently a Chinese restaurant and you can wander through through the rooms that were once home to the Macartneys, Shiptons and others:

One side effect from authoring the Odyssey Guide to Uzbekistan is that I can't pass up obscure Timurid tomb. This one near the Xinjiang-Kazakhstan border is a cracker:

Tomb of Teglug Timur (1347-1364), ancient city of Almalik, Huocheng, near Qingshuihe.


  1. I was in Kashgar 1 month ago the consulate- restuarant is a mess as they are doing construction at the hotel . The garden and consulate walls are severly damaged , its a international shame what has happened to the building and grounds .

    1. Yes, it's true there are still renovations going on at the Chini Bagh, mainly to do with the contruction of a new five star hotel block. Sadly the old consulate has been neglected and sidelined for decades now. I was glad at least to be able to poke around inside the building.

  2. Hey Bradley, Fabulous shots! Really interesting to see that you're still discovering new things even after repeat visits to Xinjiang. I guess there's lots to see. Happy travels, or should that be yol bolsun! Cheers, Will

    1. Thanks Will,
      Enjoyed your articles on Xinjiang travel - anyone interested can check them out at



Classic Pamiri Scenery of Gorno Badakhshan

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