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► CHINA’S SILK ROAD IN PHOTOS
There are few overland journeys in China that sound as exotic as the ancient Silk Road and thankfully the modern day reality lives up to the romance of the history. The route through China visits sights straight out of the history books and is a must.
Feeling far more Central Asian than Chinese, Kashgar has been a trading hub for over 2,000 years and still exudes plenty of old Silk Road charm despite its modern day resurgence as a trading town. A truly remote and fascinating destination to visit.
A few hours from dusty and hot Urumqi is this alpine gem known as Heavenly Lake in English. Up here the air is cool and clean and a welcome respite from the deserts below. Kazakhs still use this area for summer grazing and you can see their yurts int he remoter parts of the lake area.
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Turpan is classic Silk Road adventure and the area surrounding this ancient oasis is full of history, ruins and stories. The deserts surrounding Turpan are stark and brutal making it easy to imagine what a welcome and essential stop this was for the traders.
Dunhuang to Xian via lanzhou on the Silk Road
Dunhuang has two major attractions - the huge sand dunes that tower over the city fringes and the extraordinary UNESCO recognised Mogao Caves whose wealth of artefacts are testament to the past importance of this charming desert town.
The top draw here is the vast fort which was long the entrance and exit of China proper - the boundary between the influence of Chinese civilisation and ‘lawless, wild and barbaric’ lands that lay to the West. Superbly strategic and classic Silk Road.
Lanzhou has long been a garrison town along the Silk Road and although the city itself is a bit grim albeit wonderfully located on the Yellow River the chief draw is the highly impressive grottoes of Bingling Si that can only be reached by boat.
Xian is the traditional Eastern end of the Silk Road and the sight of the Tang Dynasty Capital of Chang An, once the largest city in the world that got rich of the trading route. Evidence of this wealth is amply demonstrated by the Terra Cotta Warriors.