01.09.2012 - 01.09.2012
In the Peoples sq. Mao with local heroHotan- please note that there is more to come on Hotan [Hotan-travel-guide-221834]!!!!Just posting what I can when I can as internet is so hard to access in the western side.
Our 6hr bus journey from Yarkand [Yarkand-travel-guide-1335370] to Hotan was pretty uneventful. We got onto our bus at the Yarkand bus terminal, again helped by friendly local terminal staff. Same routine, bags away and seated we found ourselves on a bus full of mostly young people on their way back to College/University in Hotan. This journey was to skirt the southern side of theTaklamakanDesert. Only stops we experienced were the obligatory police check points, where everybody had to get off the bus to have their ID checked, as soon as they saw our passports we were waved through.some of the first modernity we saw!How nice, as I had visions of having to take out all our bags and empty everything and have passport details filled out in triplicate in Chinese and then having to sign it or something. Nope, just waved straight through. The second one was a very punctual and on the dot for three hour wee stop. Most of the young men seemed to use it primarily as a smoke stop. I followed two of the girls to the “facilities”, which were the usual drop toilets. Not the best, but hey! When you gotta go, you gotta go!
The scenery on the way to Hotan started with lots of green, mostly maize and sunflowers, lined with trees. Then we hit Desert, Long and very flat and very very barren desert. Sometimes just for fun you would see a giant Chinese cement factory stuck in the middle of nowhere billowing out dust and smoke, surrounded by small very harsh looking settlements for workers.Peoples park is very busy with families and , People in the evenings, such a nice atmosphereFollowed by even more dramatic flatlands with small scrub, again temperatures were hot I guess they must have been in the high eighties and I was glad of the air con on the bus.
We arrived in Hotan around5.45pmand this time we did our homework on the Binguans. Our choice was right next to the bus station. Jiaotong Binguan, registered to take tourists, clean and cheap, well within our budget anyway, we paid 160rb for a twin room with own bathroom, western WC and shower.
It was time to get bearings on this larger town, so out we went in search of “Marcos” as per LP. I know I said I wouldn’t do that, but we did. After a very interesting walk through the markets and down thoughtfully placed subways (traffic here is not for the feint hearted) we found Marcos, we had read in LP that the staff spoke good English and this time LP got it right and they did! We were welcomed in and served very tasty food along with some help with our plans for our visits around Hotan.Desert is so close to Hotan, just 20mins drive away.(See review). After our meal we walked to the peoples park, where there is a huge statue of Mao with a local Uighar man who had journeyed to se him and was honoured as this is one of only three statues of Mao with anyone else (see pics) the friezes were stunning around the base too. The park was full of people of all ages, mostly families enjoying themselves with their children and so many playing volleyball type games or just encouraging their very young ones to play too. I did comment to Angela how there seemed to be so many red paper lanterns around the edge of the park, I suppose I thought that sort of thing was just for tourists, but as we had not seen one other single tourist so far, I wasn’t sure.
We walked back to our hotel by the bus station, we needed to plan our net couple of days and already knew we were going to the Bazaar the following morning, well lunchtime as no one gets up early on a Sunday.