I just got back from my most recent adventure which has taken me to Dubai and Beijing, but I am already off again onto my next trip abroad which will take me along a road less travelled so far, at least by western tourists. Now it is time to reveal where I will be going next:
I will travel along the Silk Road of China!
In former times the Silk Road has been one of the most important routes of the world history for the exchange of trade and culture between Eastern China and the Mediterranean Sea. From its initial point in Xi’an it led northwest through Gansu Province to the Yumen Pass where it split up into the Southern Silk Road through the Lop Nor desert encompassing Dunhuang, Lop Nor, Miran (Milan), Niya (Minfeng), Khotan (Hetian) plus Yarkand, and the Northern Silk Road which led through Hami, Turpan, Kuqa and Aksu till both routes reunited again in Kashgar in the far west of China. In the Pamir Mountains the merchants exchanged goods with their intermediaries of the west. That way cucumbers, figs, chives, sesame, walnuts, grapes (and the knowledge how to make wine), wool, linen and ivory got from west to east and jade, porcelaine, lacquer work, oranges, peaches, pears, roses, chrysanthemums, cast iron, gunpowder, the crossbow, wheelbarrows, paper, the printing art and Silk, of course, from east to west. The latter is the name giver for the Silk Road. China tried hard to keep secret the process of Silk production to protect their monopoly, but a few hundred years later people in the west came to know the secrets of the Silk production.
Currently I am in Dubai where I will spend two days and two nights this time before continuing onto Beijing. Both cities are places I fell head over heels in love with immediately when visiting the first time.
After seven days in Beijing spent individually I will hop on a tour with an adventure travel company. Even though it is usually a small group trip, I am the only passenger so far. As the company has an “All departures are guaranteed” policy, the tour will run nevertheless, so it will just be the tour guide and me who will be travelling together so far plus a local guide at a few places. At first I was disappointed when I came to know that the second person who was originally booked onto that trip, has cancelled, but now I think that this is a great chance. The tour leader will probably be a chinese local and as I really want to learn mandarin I will ask her or him to teach me as many words and phrases in chinese as possible.
The first stop on my journey after Beijing will be
As I have been to Xi’an twice before I do not intend to visit the Terracotta Warriors a third time. Instead I am planning to visit the Silk Road monument and I really hope that the weather will be good so that I can cycle along the ancient City Wall. I would also like to visit the Wild Goose Pagoda and hopefully spend some time in the Muslim quarter which I really liked during my previous stays. Another option would be a visit of the Baxian Gong, the biggest daoist temple in Xi’an.
And these are the further stops on my journey:
The westernmost point of the Great Wall lies in Jiayuguan and its fortress Cheng Lou is perfectly restored. It is located at the Jiayuguan pass between the snow capped Qilian mountains in the north and the black Mazong mountains in the south. In former times Jiayuguan was considered to be the place where China ended and the fearsome wilderness started.
Eight kilometres north of the fortress are the Hanging Walls, a section of the Great Wall, which connects the fortress with the Mazong mountains.
Dunhuang is located at the far edge of old Chinese-Turkestan and at the edge of the Taklamakan desert. It is most famous for the Mogao grottoes which are filled with Buddha statues and said to be one of the first known buddhist temples plus one of the biggest archaeological discoveries of Eastern Asia. There are still 600 to 750 caves out of originally 1000, 30 of them can still be visited.
The Mingsha Sand Dunes which I will visit for sunrise are located a few kilometres out of Dunhuang.
Turpan is the first place in Xinjiang Province which I will visit after leaving Gansu Province. The place the lowest point in whole Asia. There I will visit an ancient Karez water system, which is an underground water system, which can be found in China especially in Turpan, Hami and Kuqa.
Turpan is also supposed to be a good place to experience the culture of the Uyghur minority people.
Urumqi & Heavenly Lake
After a stop in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang Province I will continue into the Tian Shan Mountains where I will stay overnight in a yurt as a guest of the local Kazakh minority people.
The area is characterized by snow-capped mountains and turqoise lakes.
After my stay with the Kazakh minority people I will return to Urumqi and fly to Hotan a small town in the Taklamakan desert from there. The Taklamakan is the second biggest sand desert in the world.
Kashgar is the westernmost point of China on my journey and is supposed to be an amazing place. Silvia, one of my favourite fellow Travel Bloggers has written a post about her stay in the city and it seems that she absolutely loved it. I also only heard good things about Kashgar from other people who haven been there.
Kashgar is famous for its ancient Silk Road bazaars; with the Animal and the Sunday Bazaar I will experience two of them.
It is also the place where my booked tour ends. After that I will spend one extra night in the city before flying back to Beijing; well, in case everything works out with my booked flight. Otherwise I will have to take the train back like Silvia and her friend Danielle did, but in the reverse direction.
In Beijing I will spend another two days before flying back home to Germany via Dubai.
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