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Current state of kashgar - Tashkurgan road?

Posted: Thu Jun 11, 2015 3:31 am
by funkyboots
Anyone bussed it from Kashgar to tashkurgan lately? I was planning on heading there and back as a side trip, before heading east. A local guide tells me the road is in a very bad way and the bus takes 10 hours minimum instead of the expected 6, and that I woupd be better doing a day tour to the lake instead... Which of course, he can sell me ;) Don't know whetehr he just has a good sales pitch or whether the road report is true and cN't find any other pele here with onfo. Any input v much appreciated!

Re: Current state of kashgar - Tashkurgan road?

Posted: Thu Jun 11, 2015 5:57 am
by bwv812
I would be shocked if the road is in bad condition, such that a private car would be a lot faster than the minibuses that normally run the route. I think there's only one small stretch that would be prone to washouts, and when I was there the road was no worse than the M41 between Osh and Sary Tash. On the other hand, this would be the time of year when washouts would happen... but the section where they happen is before you reach Karakol, so your daytrip would also have to negotiate it..

Even if a private car can do the trip on the supposedly bad road in five hours, doing it as a day trip with him would entail 10 hours sitting in a car, probably with quick stops at touristy spots and restaurants where he can get kickbacks (assuming you're getting a cheap price). I would want to spend at least a night in Tashkurgan and maybe another at Karakol (the bus stops in Karakol). But if if you do take a tour you'll be able to stop at the sand-dune lake of Bulungkol, which the bus doesn't.

But surely someone at your guesthouse has been to Tashkurgan recently? ... ghway.html

Re: Current state of kashgar - Tashkurgan road?

Posted: Thu Jun 11, 2015 6:57 am
by funkyboots
Brilliant info, thanks a million! I am the only non-Chinese person at my GH, only 2 of the other people speak English, but from what I can gather, they are all down from Urumqi direction, and heading back up there. I wouod far rather not spend the money on a tour and am def keen to give the quick touristy stops a miss. I think I will go ahead and take the bus to Tashkurgan and maybe get lff at the lake on the way back and try and hitch a lift back to kashgar from there. (I have heard the bus is usually full when it passes, making it hard to get on it back to Kashgar).

Re: Current state of kashgar - Tashkurgan road?

Posted: Thu Jun 11, 2015 4:54 pm
by bwv812
Drop by the Pamir Hostel (right behind Id Kah) & I imagine someone there should know. And you could always get off the bus at Karakol then take the next day's bus (pretty sure people always get off at Karakol) or hitch up to Tashkurgan.

Re: Current state of kashgar - Tashkurgan road?

Posted: Fri Jun 12, 2015 3:31 am
by funkyboots
I am at Pamir Hostel... along with lots of Chinese travellers! However I did meet an American yesterday who had done a tour to the lake - she said it was hell - 6 hours each way and 20 mins at the lake. It seems the road is being redone all the way to the Pakistan border and there are road works most of the way, hence the longer journey time. I've done a lot of long bumpy roads in the past 6 months and not sure if I am up for the return drive given the delays and road condition. Will see how I feel on Monday!
Thanks for your blog link, btw, I had a good read of it last night when the internet allowed me to... fantastically atmospheric photos and some really useful info on practical details, which I will be referring to between here and Xian where my trip ends. They shouod have you updating the woeful LP guide.
If you have time, I would appreciate your thoughts on an itinerary... The past 6 months have kind of sorted themselves out in an obvious way but I have been dithering a lot about this stretch and what route to take. Your blog helped give me a better picture. I will leave Kashgar on Sun night or Monday morning, (15th June) and I need to get to Xian on 6th July for a flight next day - visited there on a previous trip to China so no need to hang around this time. I have been thinking, if I skip Tashkurgan, to go Hotan, maybe Kuqa, Turpan, Dunhuang, Jiayuguan, Zhangye, Xining.... I had hoped to include Tongren, Xiahe and that area but at this stage i am way behind timewise and figure I won't have enough time. Does the above sounds doa-able in my timeframe, based on your experiences?

Re: Current state of kashgar - Tashkurgan road?

Posted: Fri Jun 12, 2015 6:46 am
by bwv812
Well, the good news (as you probably know) is that you can travel extremely efficiently in China, and there are lots of night buses and trains. It's possible to jump from Kashgar to Hotan to Kucha to Turpan to Dunhuang using overnight buses (and since I couldn't find budget places that allowed foreigners in Hotan and Kucha—or in Jiayuguan—I had to rely on those buses). Some arrive very early and/or don't let you get a full night's sleep, but they're very doable. If I had to do things over again I would have spent more time in Xinjiang, but that's because I felt the 'stans were a bit of a letdown after Xinjiang—coming in the opposite direction you'll have a better idea if you want to linger.

Regardless, I think it's possible to see everywhere you listed. There are lots of buses between Xining and Tongren, and one or two between Tongren and Xiahe, so this is possible.
I've also found that the wikitravel entries for China are generally much better than they are for Central Asia.

Anyway, I think this is a workable schedule:
- 2 days doing Tashkurgan and KKH
- 1 day in Hotan (night bus from Kashgar)
- 1 day in Kucha (night bus from Hotan)
- 1 or 2 days in Turpan (night bus from Kucha)
- 2 days in Dunhuang (night bus from Turpan)
- 1 day in Jiayuguan (night train or bus from Dunhuang, but only 5 hours or so)
- 1 day in Zhangye (sorry, didn't do, but I hear the mountains are much less impressive in person and very touristy... I took a night bus from Lanzhou to Jiayuguan)
- 2 or 3 days in Xining
- 2 days in Tongren (day buses for this region may mean you want/need extra time)
- 2 days in Xiahe
- 2 days in Langmusi
- 1 or 2 days in Linxia/Bingling Si/Lanzhou (night train to Xian)

That's 19 days, giving you a couple of days to make necessary adjustments. It's a bit quick—sometimes out of necessity—but possible.

I'm happy that you've found my blog useful, and the crappiness of LP China (especially the sections written by Michael Kohn) are part of the reason I included lots of detail for some places (like Hotan). If you visit the Atlas silk workshop in Hotan and spot a gorgeous girl working in the showroom, you can repay me by sending me a picture of her.

Enjoy your trip!

Re: Current state of kashgar - Tashkurgan road?

Posted: Fri Jun 12, 2015 11:29 am
by funkyboots
Fantastic reply, thanks a million for your input! I had come up through the 'stans and found them a bit of a let down after 6 weeks in Iran... enjoyed lots of it, especially the Wakhan, but nothing quite met the standard of Iran... Kashgar, for all the Chinese govt has done to it, feels alive in the way that Iran did, so I have really enjoyed my first couple of days in Xinjiang and am in no rush to be in the east of the country other than catching that flight.
I will look out for your gorgeous girl in Hotan :)
Thanks a million!