Along Lake Issy Kul

Posted by & filed under Kyrgyzstan, Travel Diary.

Silk Road Part 8 of 17. We started early and drove north along Lake Issy Kul. Regina told me tales of Kyrgyz history and of their pre-Islamic shamanist ways, many of which still persist beneath a thin veil of Islam. The goddess Umai (Mother Earth) and Khan Tengri (Father Sky) still pervaded the thinking of… Read more »

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Into Kyrgyzstan

Posted by & filed under Kyrgyzstan, Travel Diary.

Silk Road Part 7 of 17. “Conor McGregor”, the customs official beamed at me when he learned I was Irish. Conor McGregor is a low brow Ultimate fighter from Ireland who has made it big on the world stage in this sport, including, it seems, in Kyrgyzstan. It wasn’t the last time I heard his… Read more »

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Kashgar & the Sunday Livestock Market

Posted by & filed under China, Travel Diary.

Silk Road Part 6 of 17. Kashgar is one of the most evocative city names from Silk Road lore. My train chugged along the edge of the infamous Taklamakan desert and pulled into Kashgar on Sunday morning, market day. My guide, Musa, met me at the station and we drove straight to the Kashgar Sunday… Read more »

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Turpan

Posted by & filed under China, Travel Diary.

Silk Road Part 5 of 17. The bullet train sped me across the edges of the Gobi desert, and seas of wind turbines, into Xinjiang province and on to Turpan. Turpan is the hottest and driest town in China and the second lowest place on earth, after the Dead Sea on the Israel-Jordan border.  … Read more »

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Dunhuang & Magao Caves

Posted by & filed under China, Travel Diary.

Silk Road Part 4 of 17. Dunhuang, sat on the fringes of the Gobi desert and at the Western end of the famous Hexi Corridor, is a desert town whose fortunes were made as a result of being sat on a Silk Road junction. Travellers heading west would need to decide here whether to go… Read more »

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Along the Hexi Corridor to Jiayaguan

Posted by & filed under China, Travel Diary.

Silk Road Part 3 of 17. My train trundled through the famous Hexi Corridor, flanked to the North by the Qilian Shan mountains and to the South by the Mazong and Longshou mountains. After the Han era adventurer Zhang Qian returned to China from his monumental trips to the fringes of the Greek world bearing… Read more »

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The Forest of Stone Stelae (Xi’an)

Posted by & filed under China, Travel Diary.

Silk Road Part 2 of 17. The Forest of Stone Stelae in Xi’an is a collection of more than 1,000 stone carvings, stelae for the most part, with beautiful Chinese writing on them. They cover a period of about 2,000 years from the Han dynasty to the Qing dynasty (the last dynasty, which fell in… Read more »

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The Yangling Mausoleum of Han Dynasty (Xi’an)

Posted by & filed under China, Travel Diary.

Silk Road Part 1 of 17. The Yangling Mausoleum just north of Xi’an is the Han Dynasty’s answer to the “Terracotta Warrior tomb”. It is clearly less famous than its predecessor due the Han’s disinclination to showiness, reflected in their Taoist beliefs, and, most probably, a more limited budget for such projects. The Terracotta Warriors… Read more »

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