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Kaluts- The Lut Desert- Iran

In 2012 near the start of my journey along the Silk route between Istanbul in Turkey and China, I spent a month in Iran. A beautiful country and actually very hospitable people. Following the journey of Alexandra the Great to Persepolis, or next stop was the Lut desert to see the amazing sand formations known as "Kaluts". The Kalut is said to a sand mountain created by the effect of the dominant erosional agent in desert, i.e., wind making fascinating forms and shapes.

There are no threats, like scorpions or snakes, as the desert of Lut is an abiotic zone, which means that no single plant or creature can survive in such a harsh environment.

Rising from the sand dunes, these natural and astonishing sculptures are a real shock to your eyeballs and, while walking among them, you are likely to feel you are wandering around Mars or even better, a Star wars film set.

Posted by TheJohnsons 08:32 Archived in Iran Tagged mountains sky desert sunset view nature landscape canyon travel mountain golden sand summer sun hill red rock stone formation scenic land hot yellow natural east dry asia tourism geology iran kerman persia outdoor esfahan formations tehran persian kashan yazd iranian foggy misty massive background hottest lut kalut kaluts shahdat kalutes Comments (0)

The Big Year Out-Hotan Bazaar

Hotan Sunday Market
Hotan’ s bazaar is also called The Sunday market. Local people call it Chukubaza (meaning is low location market) located in the north-eastern corner of Hotan city. It is one of the biggest markets in southern Xinjiang. It has many special sections for the market. The Bazaar in Hotan is active every day, but the Sunday is special day, when it gets flooded by hundreds and thousands of people on Sunday. The kind of people who come to the market are people from seven counties of Hotan and some other prefecture of Xinjiang. They sell all kinds of special local Hotan such as beautiful styled dresses can be seen or bought and many sweet fruits and delicious dishes as well as snacks can be tasted. Minority Products and Souvenirs local made carpets and roll jade. local people say that it is possible to find everything accept Chicken milk, cows egg in Europeans style.
While you are in the market, please remember the word “posh” that means get out of the way in Uyghur language, as soon as you hear this word, please watch yourself. The best time to go to the market is after 8:30 AM Xinjian time.

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Posted by TheJohnsons 21:15 Archived in China Tagged sky sea oasis desert view park landscape monument ruins fort the of china white death sand door hill pagoda road bush black land moon asian dry out asia quiet relax chinese alone peace silk calm jade ruin basin tibetan xinjiang archeological awesome nur lop asiatic hotan solitary slowly tarim grit taklamakan karakax uigur yurungkash rawak Comments (0)

The Big Year Out-Dunhuang Movie Set

Between our journey from Dunhuang to the Jade gate and the Yardang Geopark , we were taken to this movie Set, also the entrance gate of Dunhuang Movie Set known as Modelled Shazhou Town of Song Dynasty (960-1279), is about 25 kilometres (15.5 miles) south west of the city. The town, covering an area of 12,700 square meters (3.1 acres) was originally designed for the setting of the historical film Dunhuang in 1987. The film was made in cooperation with Japan and the set reproduced the layout and construction on a part of the famous scroll painting Qingming Shanghe Tu (The Outing at Bian River on Qingming Festival).

Dunhuang Movie Set presents its majestic appearance in the vast Gobi bearing a rich flavor of the west regions of China. Fully representing the military importance of the western regions in the Tang (618-907) and Song Dynasties, the complex here can give one an impression that the clock has turned backwards to ancient times. Gates are erected on the east, south and west sides of the town. The five main streets, namely the Gaochang, Dunhuang, Ganzhou, Xingqing and Bianliang, criss-cross each other inside the town. Various constructions with distinct characteristics of the Song Dynasty are scattered along the streets, housing arcades, temples, hockshops, warehouses, pothouses, restaurants, dwelling houses and so on.

Taking full advantage of its uniqueness for making movies with a military theme, Dunhuang Movie Set has become the biggest set for shooting movies in northwest China. More than twenty films and television series have been produced here, apart from the movie Dunhuang so far. You might be surprised to recognize the familiar scenes from one of your favorite movies when you are strolling around the town. So be prepared for the unexpected!

This scenic spot is very interesting both for its historical value for putting the vision of the ancient west China into perspective and for its important role in movie-making industry.

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Posted by TheJohnsons 21:06 Archived in China Tagged sky architecture oasis desert tower view nature park landscape monument culture history travel mountain lake buddhism province scenery china building famous sand sun hill pagoda old road scenic land moon spring dune asian natural dry asia camel amazing ancient tourism chinese outdoor landmark crescent silk gobi background dunhuang gansu Comments (0)

The Big Year Out-Yumen Pass or The Jade Gate

In 2012 I took the minivans that do the trip out to the Jade Gate on the historic Silk route. Everyone had to go through here to access either China or the Central Asia continent and beyond into Europe. This is where my Silk Route Journey finished and my South East Asia Trip began.

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Posted by TheJohnsons 20:35 Archived in China Tagged sky architecture water desert tower view nature landscape history travel vacation province scenery china blue building famous sand heritage hill castle rock stone old road historical scenic yellow sunny wall dry antique ancient tourism historic chinese outdoor gate landmark pass silk dynasty jade ruin gobi han dunhuang gansu yumen fangpa Comments (0)

The Big Year Out-Tha Abandoned ships at Moynaq

One of the most profound journeys I took was from Nukus to Moynaq in Uzbekistan. To the last port on the Aral Sea in Uzbekistan, which is a sea no more. The desolation caused by the overfishing and redirection of the "inland sea" left this desert of a town like something from the wild west movies. And still even more stark it has happened in as many years as I have been on the planet. After visiting the ships graveyard, I was able to visit the "Cannery" where the fish was processed on mass for export mainly to the Ukraine.

Posted by TheJohnsons 22:54 Archived in Uzbekistan Tagged sea desert boat nature landscape ship cemetery lake soviet ecology waste panorama sand port ships dead bark graveyard change warming shipwreck dry asia environmental salt wreck global rust environment climate ruin arid disaster rusty uzbekistan abandoned kazakhstan ecological carcass apocalypse wreckage catastrophe desolation moynaq devastation aral rusting desertification dryness Comments (0)

The Big Year Out -Hotan Nr. Taklamakan Desert


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

large_1842667_1348816681770.jpgIn 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.large_1842667_13488166816540.jpgsome 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.large_1842667_13488166828771.jpgPeoples 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.large_1842667_1348816682511.jpgDesert 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.

Bazaar day!

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Posted by TheJohnsons 23:42 Archived in China Tagged sky architecture desert nature landscape history travel mountain adventure fall scenery china blue golden a sand no day one west wilderness old scenic northwest dune yellow natural dry asia gold tourism horizon clean outdoor dust gobi extreme pure xinjiang wide background level dunhuang terrain gansu unmanned transparent taklamakan barren boundless Comments (0)

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