Friday, June 10, 2011

The Taklamakan Desert for the Desk-bound.

I looked for Kashgar on google maps last night,

and then shifting to the east a little, homed in on the Taklamakan desert.

The sand dunes were as regular as a patterned wall-paper; exactly as I'd seen from the plane on my way back from China. Then, without zooming out again, I 'travelled' in all directions trying to find a place where the sand gave way to something else, but it didn't. The sand went on and on; all that change sometimes was the size and direction of the sand dunes. It was only after I'd zoomed back out that I could find other features: rocks, dried up lakes and a hint of grass.

I am trying to understand the geography of the Silk Road, but it is a complicated process, not helped by the fact that the area has changed so much in recent years. With the fall of the Soviet Union new countries sprang up, and at the same time new nomenclatures seem to have become popular to describe cities in China.

In the front of the book I am reading now (Peter Hopkirk's Foreign Devils on the Silk Road) five different names for a place called Urumchi - which now, I believe, is known by yet another: Urumqi. No wonder I'm confused.


Blogger Anne S said...

Your mention of Kashgar reminded me of a message left many years ago on the Jerusalem Dreaming Message Board from a person called Elvis who was a businessman in Kashgar and he wrote the following about the Kashgar Chinibah Hotel

"At some point in your stay you are bound to bump into Ablimit Ghopor (aka Elvis).Elvis's main business is buying and selling carpets but he also takes tourists on excellent tours of the old town to off-beat sites such as a local pir (holy man) and a traditional Uyghur house,where he acts as translator and cultural interpreter.He has recently started cheap trips into the Taklamakan desert and also sells his own Uyghur-English phrasebook for Y50. He can normally be found at the Old City Restaurant between 4 and 6 pm (Beijing time )"

So if you're thinking of heading off to Kashgar you have a contact ready made if he's still there. (He included his mobile number and email address in his post.)

Sat Jun 11, 04:32:00 am  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Oooh thanks Anne! I don't know if I'm going there yet, but if I do - it does sound a very useful contact!

Sat Jun 11, 08:31:00 am  
Anonymous marly youmans said...

Saw that header and immediately thought: she's off again!

Sun Jun 12, 08:02:00 pm  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Heh, the more I read of this place, the more I want to go there!

Sun Jun 12, 09:23:00 pm  

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