JB home

Back to 'Quick Tour'

Xinjiang - North of the Taklamakan Desert

After arriving in the Xinjiang capital Urumqi , we travelled westwards, stopping at small towns north of the desert.

Yarqi (market stop between Korla and Kuqa)

Kuqa - Jamah mosque (16th century, restored after fire 1930's)

Kuqa - Jamah mosque

Kuqa - Jamah mosque

Subashi Buddhist temple ruins (3rd century)

Kizilgaha beacon tower - remarkably well preserved Han Dynasty Silk Road lookout tower (height 13.5m)

Kizil 1000 Buddha caves. The caves are said to be the earliest major Buddhist cave complex in the region, developed from 3rd to 8th centuries. Modern walkways give access to the caves, which contain ancient wall paintings (photography not permitted in caves).

Kizil 1000 Buddha caves - grounds

Xinjiang landscape. The foreground track, wide enough for two trucks to pass, indicates the scale. Xinjiang is mainly a vast expanse of flat, very hostile-looking semi-desert. There are also regions of uplifted shale strata on a grand scale.

Due to ingenious irrigation, there are also very lush enclaves where grapes, melons, pears, cotton, wheat, silk, walnuts etc are produced. Apparently it is possible for Uyghur families to make a good living from agriculture. Han Chinese, on the other hand, tend to live in the cities and to be employed in modern industries, such as petrochemicals.

The central sign says 道路封闭 (dol fēngb i.e. road closed). The other sign gives the name and length of the tunnel, and tells you to turn on your lights! In Xinjiang (Uyghur Autonomous Region) all signs are supposed to be written in both Uyghur script and Chinese characters, a regulation that generally seems to be adhered to. The lettering is supposed to be the same size...

Xinjiang landscape

Taklamakan Desert . One of the recent infrastructure developments in the region has been the building of a highway across the desert. Reeds have been planted at the side of the road to prevent sand blowing across. Apparently without these plants the road would disappear very quickly.

Note that the driver has two spare donkeys. It would be a very bad idea to get stuck in this most hostile of deserts.

Back to 'Quick Tour'

JB home