The Kashgar Gallery Cafe Tashkurgan trip experience – Can’t Get Enough of the Mountains!!!

We set out early in the morning from Kashgar and enjoyed a smooth ride all the way to Tashkorgan (also spelled Tashkurgan).  The best way to get there is to take a private car or van, depending on how many people.  Our Kashgar driver was very experienced, he made sure that we were awake and ready to admire all the beautiful mountain peaks, camels and yaks.  We were struck by the stunning colours of the mountain cliffs along the way.  Mines were scattered and Kygrgiz nomads had their tents set up along the way.  To say we were dwarfed by the magnificent mountains doesn’t even begin to paint their magnanimity.

Tashkurgan is only 290km from Kashgar and the ride takes about 6 hours.  It is a small border town high up in the mountains sitting at an altitude of 11 811 feet (3600meters).  The town consists of one main road that has a few other smaller streets that run off it.  Whether you are looking down the main road or any of the little streets a beautiful mountain view awaits you.  One road leads to a magnificent snow capped mountain, another leads to textured rocky mountains and another leads your eye to a sandy dessert mountain.   Though the town is all within walking distance from the hotels, our very attentive Kashgar driver was ready to drive us wherever we wanted (even if it was only one block down the street).  He also drove very slowly so we could get our fix of pictures of the locals.

There is a great ethnic mix in Tashkurgan.  The main ethnic group are the Tajiks, but we also met many Uyghers, Kyrgiz and Han.  For those interested in going to Pakistan there is one bus a day that goes to Sost.  It leaves in the morning from the Customs Immigration Office.  You can get a Pakistani visa from the Pakistani border, if needed.

We couldn’t find any Tajik restaurants in the little town, there were a few choices for Uygher or Chinese food.  All could do a little help with their hygiene standards.  We cringed as we walked into most restaurants.  The best way to taste local Tajik snacks is to go out, behind the Stone City to the grasslands, where a few yurts are set up.  Here we enjoyed Tajik tea, which is salty, served with varieties of fried dough.  The scenery was amazing.  We asked the Tajik man to turn off his blaring speakers that blasted traditional guitar music so that we could just relax in the green valley.

The Stone City is the ancient ruins left of Tashkurgan, which means stone city in Uyghur, more than 600 years ago.  A very important spot along the silk road in times past, now it’s a spot for tourists on their way to Pakistan or for those who have just been to Karakul Lake.  We walked up the stairs to the gate and couldn’t see anything spectacular.  It took us a few minutes to consider whether we were interested or not, but after fishing out our 10yuan, the little man opened the gates and let us in.  He led us to the stairs on the right, and then we met with the actual Stone City (as opposed to a few small trees).  There were the ruins, as the pictures show.  Farther up on the other side of  the view was absolutely stunning of the grasslands.

When we stopped two Tajik girls to inquire about Tajik restaurants they told us “no” then started discussing among themselves.  We were waiting for an answer, thinking perhaps in the discussion they would come up with the Tajik restaurant we were looking for.  We waited, they discussed, looked at us again, we waited some more, they continued discussing, looked at us yet again….We soon realized they were politely waiting for us to dismiss them.  A bit embarrassed, we said thank you and bye!  Relieved, they gave us big smiles as they walked away, free from their captors.

Tashkorgan was such an interesting place.  Although, there’s not a lot to explore it’s hard to get tired of just admiring the towering mountain ranges.  We walked in and out of the hotel plenty and every time the view just left us in awe.

Note: This article contributed to our blog from Gallery Cafe in Kashgar when they left from Kashgar middle of  last summer. The original article was published in 7th  July 2010. We posted here because we thought it might be helpful for fellow travelers to make future Xinjiang travel plan. We missed Gallery Cafe!

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