South Taklamakan travel

We're travelers here. Tourists can be found on that other board.
Post Reply
User avatar
mad hatter
Stew Ingredient
Posts: 25881
Joined: Thu Apr 17, 2014 7:08 pm

South Taklamakan travel

Post by mad hatter » Thu Dec 20, 2018 6:28 pm

From an old school travel list I am subscribed to. Those who have travelled the Silk Route and or in Xinjiang province may be interested.

------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Moderator <owner-oriental-list@datasinica.com>
Date: Fri, 21 Dec 2018, 06:39
Subject: South Taklamakan travel
To:


Prompted by signs of life on the list:

Long-standing members will remember that The Oriental-List was founded over 20 years ago following publication of ‘China: The Silk Routes’, and in its early days much of its traffic concerned travel in Xinjiang and along the Gansu corridor, covered by that guide.

Someone recently brought to my attention a posting made on LP’s Thorn Tree site concerning the current state of travel around the southern side of the Taklamakan. I completed the journey around the underside of the desert and across into Qinghai Province in the early 90s, and gave a detailed account in the book. But according to the Thorn Tree post it is currently tiresome to get even as far as Khotan due to numerous problems with police checkpoints, and travel further east is forbidden without a special permit.

Overall, travel in Xinjiang is reported to be uncomfortable at the moment (although nothing like as uncomfortable as it is to be a Uighur resident there), and the region is probably best avoided by all but the most determined traveller perhaps determined to experience the Karakoram Highway, and to enter or exit China from Pakistan (or Kazakhstan or Kyrgyzstan, as the author of the LP posting apparently did).

Below is the Thorn Tree post, by one ghirello, also found here:

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/ ... -silk-road

If the list continues to show signs of coming back to life I may later post an account of travelling along the south side of the Taklamakan back in the 90s.

I’ll also post something on the future of the list.

Moderator
https://medium.com/a-better-guide-to-be ... d095e9ff94



Feedback from Autumn 2018.

On the southern Silk Road, foreigners are theorically allowed between Kashgar and Khotan (this is what CITS people say), and no further east, but there are some problems even within that section. If wanting to travel east of Khotan, you must apply for a permit in Urumqi (fee determined by group, not by number of people), then wait two weeks before getting it.

You don’t need a permit to travel from Kashgar to Tashqurghan. I was told of some foreigners sent back at a check-point midway, but most can get easily to the town.

On the last 150 km from Kashgar to the Kyrgyz border at Irkeshtam, foreigners (pedestrians and bikers) have to take a taxi. As only a few taxis are allowed to drive on this section, this makes bargaining quite difficult.

In Kashgar, it is not easy to find a taxi willing to take you to the southern bus station connected to Yarkand, but a few might drop you at a distance. The policemen at the checkpoint can keep you outside for a long time (1 hour), and then detain you again when your vehicle is ready to start and you have to show your passport for the third time. It looks very much like everything is done to dissuade you from visiting this area.

In Yarkand/Shache the policemen do not let you walk in town. Your arrival is announced by the policemen at the previous checkpoint, they take you then directly from the bus station to the police station and detain you until another taxi is ready, saying that the old mosque is closed and that no hotel will accept foreigners. The options left to you are back to Kashgar or on to Kargilik (no direct transport to Khotan).

In Kargilik/Yecheng, the policemen let you walk in town but no hotel accepts foreigners in the district. If arriving too late at the bus station (due to the amount of time spent in detention) and unwilling to pay for a whole taxi, the local policemen take you to a checkpoint out of town and ask the soldiers to put you on a private car, in order to get you out of their district. You’ll have to change cars at every checkpoint, as you’ll be checked and detained several times.

Khotan is more accessible and there are a few hotels open to foreigners. You are allowed as far as the site of Rawak without a permit. Before getting there the police at the checkpoint located out of town calls your hotel to check where you’re staying an can keep you for half an hour or more.

No such problems on the northern Silk Road, except that in some towns like Aksu the options for accomodation are limited to an expensive hotel. In Korla the police is warned of your arrival by road and checks where you’re headed.

Urumqi is easier than Kashgar but the police at Hongshan Park photocopies your passport ; smaller parks are entirely closed to the public.

Turfan is also easier for foreigners (checks mostly at the train station).
Copyright (c) 2018 original author(s)

To unsubscribe: unsubscribe-oriental-list [at] datasinica [.] com
To change other settings: http://www.hmssurprise.org/wa.cgi?SUBED ... l-list&A=1
To contact moderator: owner-oriental-list [at] dat
Nines to Felix: "I know a lot of really successful lawyers. My oldest son is a full partner in a prestigious law firm. I know the gig. None of them have the time nor inclination to post the never-ending drivel like you've done for decades here"

User avatar
leela
Stew Ingredient
Posts: 30986
Joined: Sun Dec 23, 2012 3:46 pm

Re: South Taklamakan travel

Post by leela » Thu Dec 20, 2018 9:43 pm

I am so glad I got to Xinjiang just in time. It was after the Urumqi riots, the army was everywhere and there was no internet, and international phone calls were blocked in the province. But I wasn't restricted in where I could go (though I couldn't get public buses along the Karakorum highway. I needed a permit and a driver) There were what seemed to be a lot of checkpoints, and one driver asked me to pretend to be asleep when we approached one at one point. But it wasn't anywhere near as bad as now.

I was able to get a local sleeper bus across the Taklamakan from Hotan, but I was woken and pulled off the bus several times through the night by the army. My fellow passengers weren't impressed by the delays my presence caused at checkpoints through the next day, either.
Basically it was the bus ride from hell, for many reasons other than the checkpoints, but also probably my most memorable travel experience.

I loved the region and the people. I've never felt so far from the western world and the 21st century as I did in Yarkand in particular. What's happening now is unnutterably sad.
Pass the wine...

User avatar
mad hatter
Stew Ingredient
Posts: 25881
Joined: Thu Apr 17, 2014 7:08 pm

Re: South Taklamakan travel

Post by mad hatter » Thu Dec 20, 2018 11:34 pm

leela wrote:I am so glad I got to Xinjiang just in time. It was after the Urumqi riots, the army was everywhere and there was no internet, and international phone calls were blocked in the province. But I wasn't restricted in where I could go (though I couldn't get public buses along the Karakorum highway. I needed a permit and a driver) There were what seemed to be a lot of checkpoints, and one driver asked me to pretend to be asleep when we approached one at one point. But it wasn't anywhere near as bad as now.

I was able to get a local sleeper bus across the Taklamakan from Hotan, but I was woken and pulled off the bus several times through the night by the army. My fellow passengers weren't impressed by the delays my presence caused at checkpoints through the next day, either.
Basically it was the bus ride from hell, for many reasons other than the checkpoints, but also probably my most memorable travel experience.

I loved the region and the people. I've never felt so far from the western world and the 21st century as I did in Yarkand in particular. What's happening now is unnutterably sad.
Its a "not in kansas" experience all right
Nines to Felix: "I know a lot of really successful lawyers. My oldest son is a full partner in a prestigious law firm. I know the gig. None of them have the time nor inclination to post the never-ending drivel like you've done for decades here"

Cyllarus
Stew Ingredient
Posts: 2797
Joined: Fri Feb 28, 2014 4:39 pm

Re: South Taklamakan travel

Post by Cyllarus » Fri Dec 21, 2018 1:20 pm

Peter Fleming (brother of James Bond author) wrote great travel book in 1930s - News from Tartary about trip with Swiss woman through Taklamakan and other areas to India. he was asked to "show the British flag to keep those pessky russian communists at bay". Wonderful read.

Lost Soul
Stew Ingredient
Posts: 57889
Joined: Sun Jan 09, 2005 2:02 am

Re: South Taklamakan travel

Post by Lost Soul » Fri Dec 21, 2018 2:51 pm

The entire region was full of evil, white people up until 1000 years ago.

And then the noble, brown people murdered the evil, white people.

YAY!

Mongs.
IMPRISON BUSH!

INDICT HILLARY!

"Lost Soul is largely correct"- VinnyD

User avatar
AntiFelix
Stew Ingredient
Posts: 4542
Joined: Sun Nov 04, 2012 9:29 pm

Re: South Taklamakan travel

Post by AntiFelix » Wed Dec 26, 2018 12:16 am

I brought "Night Train to Turkestan" on this trip, about an overland trip there in the 80s.
I am Stalking you.

Post Reply