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The Big Year Out-Yarkand the deep south, not!


View The Big Year Out & Photos of us & Transport and bookings on TheJohnsons's travel map.

large_1842667_13488163008352.jpgYarkand

Yarkand is not really a hot place to stay, well maybe if you count the temperature, but other than that it might not be worth a stop. We decided that we would do the southern loop round to Hotan [Hotan-travel-guide-221834] and the look at either completing it or cutting across the Taklamakan Desert to Kuqe. As we had no experience of Chinese buses and wanted to find out what they were like we thought we would break up the journey by doing a short trip (3hours) from Kashgar [Kashgar-travel-guide-1315664] to Yarkand first.

Well buying a bus ticket was easy, into the bus station at Kashgar and helped by the nice “Official” managing the ques we were able to make it clear that we wanted two seats to Yarkand.large_1842667_13488163012314.jpg Then once again kindly helped by another bus “Official” we were shown to our bus out in the Station (sounds likeIranexperience doesn’t it?). Bags stowed away under the bus luggage compartment and seated in clearly numbered seats (English numbers everywhere so far) we congratulated ourselves in getting this far through the system. Bear in mind this is our first ever trip throughChinaand language is completely different to anything we have encountered so far.

Comfy seats and a swift three hours saw us to the Yarkand bus terminal. We arrived around3.00pmand it was hot! We had read in LP that the Subiyi Aletun Hotel would take foreign tourists, WRONG! No they don’t, well not anymore, after a 10rb taxi ride to said Hotel we were told “no Tourists” in Chinese and hand signals….large_1842667_13488163011114.jpg .oh no, and we don’t speak English and they don’t speak Chinese. After much discussion and gesturing we managed to get them to understand that we needed to stay somewhere! I hit upon the idea of ringing our English/Chinese speaking tour operator we used for the border crossing fromKyrgyzstantoChinato help out. He advised us that he only knew of the “Yarkand” Binguan (hotel) that accepted foreign visitors there. So with some basic words and a bit of help from the manager at the Subiyi Aletun we got another Taxi to take us up the road back toward the bus terminal and drop us off outside the Hotel. At last, we booked in, funny how the price of this Hotel managed to be more expensive than the one we just left. Never mind, double room with air con, western loo and breakfast did us.large_1842667_13488163021337.jpg We had after all only wanted to stop for one night to A. break up the journey and B. visit a couple of sights we knew were there.

Thankfully nothing shuts early hear inChinaand once we had dumped our bags we were off out and back towards the sights were had come to break up the journey with. First stop the Mausoleum of Ammanisahan a Uighar Queen, revered musician and famed for her work collecting the Uighar muquam. Her Tomb was stunning; they obviously loved her very much as great effort had gone into its placement and construction with surrounding garden for her (see pics). A few meters away is the Mazaar cemetery where members of Yarkand Royal family from 16th& 17thCentury lie. Calm and slightly restored we saw maybe 30 tombs with intricate stone carving (see pics) with the main man (Sulitan Saidyidhans) centralised in the cemetery (also have pics of this).large_1842667_13488163033508.jpg Right next door to this Cemetery is the Altun Mosque Complex this one is an open style mosque and was built in 1533A.D. by Sulitan Abdureshidhan, another Royal member of Yarkand. It also was a cool and calm place and even though it was Friday we were able to walk round and take pictures, although I did run into afternoon prayer time so left a little earlier than I would have liked. We paid 15rb each to get into all three sights which I thought was reasonable considering how much I enjoyed it and how many sights we got for our entrance fee.

Tired, hungry & hot we decided that the next task was to find food, and edible food. There really is only so much shashlik a girl can eat. LP was pretty useless and it seemed that anything LP suggests turns out to be pretty expensive and quite a disappointment.large_1842667_13488163035508.jpg We decided to trust our instincts and let me follow my nose and eyes on the locals. Sure enough on the main road back to our Hotel we found a restaurant whose name I couldn’t read let alone pronounce, but I do know it was number 161 on the street. We walked in with other customers and followed the way they did things. Seated we looked around at what other patrons were eating which gave us a good idea of the kind of food they served. Great! Food at last, the obligatory pot of chai was brought to us and we basically pointed at what other people were eating and said “one of those please”. The staff was really friendly and brought us two Thali like plates with an assortment of chicken, beef (small pieces), some peppers and aubergine with cooked onions, and a decent portion of plain white rice.large_1842667_13488163036035.jpg Yum! At last a lovely spicy, filling meal. We were stuffed, we left after paying a whole 15rb for the two of us and this is what we had been looking forward to. We walked back to our hotel as we had already purchased our next day’s bus ticket to Hotan and wanted to make sure we had ourselves packed up and ready to go the next morning. Not the most exciting place inChina, but then again my view is it’s what you make it; it gave us a good introduction to Chinese buses and local “foreign tourist registered only” hotels and definitely a taste of good local food. Hotan here we come!

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Posted by TheJohnsons 23:42 Archived in China Tagged sky desert nature culture travel town china map wild red portrait macro asia marker marked deer geography countries silk business push badlands hair corridor close-up tajikistan background bukhara afghanistan panj pamir fur pin antlers riparian badakhshan yarkand thumbtack cartography pushpin grazer bactrian wapiti lowland bokhara yarkant corridors herbivore chordata vakhan Comments (0)

The Big Year Out-Khiva


View The Big Year Out & Things we wish we had done & Photos of us & Photographic Equipement & Visas & Transport and bookings on TheJohnsons's travel map.

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Khiva;
Beautiful restored living citadel town which is so refreshing after seeing so many abandoned ones in Turkmenistan. First thing that struck me about the Uzbeks here is how relaxed and laid back they are. Meros (see review) was a good place to start, even the border guards at the Uzbek border knew about Meros!

In Khiva, it was the first time we had seen bus loads of tourists sinceTurkey! You can by a two day ticket for all the sites within the citadel, pay in soumme as it works out cheaper than paying in dollars, as the official rate is less than the black-market rate. We found the official rate was just under 1900 to the dollar and the unofficial was 2800(exceptSamarkandwhere we got 2700). So you see it pays to pay in Soumme. There were two sites within Khiva which were not included on the ticket, the Kuha Ark; you have to pay extra to go up onto the bastion where you get magnificent views of Khiva. The Pahlavon Mahmud Mausoleum and all minarets have additional charges (albeit small ones). Another particular site within the citadel we really enjoyed was the Juma mosque which was cool and peaceful and beautiful when we went there.
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The eateries were more expensive inside the citadel, but the one café we frequented for two or three nights also had a wifi spot, which was very reliable, right next to the unfinished minaret. Food was cheaper outside the citadel walls and we even found more than one great supermarket right opposite The Isfandiyar Palace which is also well worth a visit. The prices at the supermarkets were a fraction of those in the cafes etc.

Water pressure is not great in the Old town, not sure but can’t imagine that its any better outside as Khiva does suffer with this. We managed to get a bumblebee sim card through our hosts at Meros, and is well worth getting for calls and texts around Uzbekistan. ATM can be found at the Outside south Gate, Hotel Asia, which only takes MasterCard and Maestro, no visa

Posted by TheJohnsons 23:26 Archived in Uzbekistan Tagged art architecture mosque tower culture religion history traditional travel town urban city building heritage mosaic old road muslim unesco central religious wall east asia antique ancient tourism historic dome fortress gate landmark oriental decoration silk persian islam arabic exterior uzbekistan minaret bukhara kala islamic khiva uzbek majolica madrasah khorezm itchan Comments (0)

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