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Travel Guide: The Silk Road // Pakistan to China: Part 5

Updated: May 15, 2020

Part V - The Southern Silk Road, skirting and passing through the Taklamakan Desert

The sunlit peaks of the Kunlun Mountain Range floating above the horizon far off in the distance. They were snow capped and massive; a huge wall of rock between Xinjiang and Tibet.

Day eight | 11 September | Kashgar to Yengisar, to Yarkand, to Khargilik, to Khotan

We left Kashgar at 9.30 this morning after waiting 30 minutes to check out (check out is a lengthy activity to be factored into the schedule of each day). The route, skirting the southern side of the Taklamakan Desert and passing through dusty oasis towns shaded by poplars and lined with brick walls, must have been a difficult journey 2000 years ago and without much security.

The only difference I could note in each oasis town we passed was the size; otherwise from what we saw they were all very similar. Men and women flocked along the main road on their donkey carts to and from market, and cultivated grapes in veranda gardens. Poplars lined the main road - a modern iteration of the ancient southern route of the Silk Road, which today passes the same villages and towns as it did thousands of years ago. Small water canals follow the side of the road, carrying water to thirsty plots of land.

The first stop was Yengisar; essentially a one road town. The only thing we could see was an array of knife shops along the highway, for which the town is famous. The knives were actually quite nice, with inlaid handles of bone, wood, and metal and carvings of Uighur or Chinese script or dragons along the blades.

Next stop was Yarkand for lunch. We went to a Uighur teahouse and had laghman. Next stop was Khargilik, where we stopped at the bus station to get some information for my planned trip to Tibet from here later this month.