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Featured image: Cart Parking, Kashgar Sunday Market 1995
Breadtag Sagas ©: Author Tony, 4 November 2018
Kashgar Sunday Market 1995
I’d always wanted to ascend the Karakorum Highway (KKH) to Hunza and to China ever since I’d first heard of the KKH from books, and in relation to the Great Game and Sir Francis Younghusband.
I’ve only touched on the Karakorum Highway briefly in my blog articles regarding Abbottabad and Osama bin Laden, but I’ll get to other things in Pakistan eventually. It was an amazing journey. I’ve been in contact with a couple of people who have been through the KKH and northern areas of Pakistan recently. One of whom is off to Pattale in Nepal on our recommendation.
Denise and I spent over two months going up and down the KKH. Most people take only a couple of weeks. It did affect us badly, healthwise.
Why should I write about Kashgar in 1995? I remember as a teenager being critically dismissive of friends of my parents talking about travel they did over twenty years ago.
Well, Kashgar has changed and it is useful to know how it used to be. The 1990s were also a transition in world travel from remote places being difficult to get to, to almost anywhere in the world being easily accessible.
I thought things changed quickly soon after we left Kashgar and they did, but not as quickly as they have more recently. There is also a humanitarian crisis brewing in the region.
An article and pictures in the New York Times in 2006, appears to show images of Kashgar not much changed from 1995. Although from 2009 the physical changes were drastic. Since 1995, awe inspiring changes have swept through Kashgar and other areas of Xinjiang, as they have across China. It is the greatest change in the shortest time the world has ever seen.
I cite two recent blogs by Josh Summers and Lesley Lababidi below to give detailed information about Kashgar today.
Kashgar (Kashi) is the Western-most City in China and has been a pivotal trading post on the Silk Road since at least 200 BCE, or for more than two thousand years. Because of its strategic location, Kashgar has been swallowed by and fought over by empires endlessly. Kashgar has been under the rule of the Chinese, Turkic, Mongol and Tibetans to name a few. It was part of the Great Game between Russia and Britain; and Xinjiang (Western China) was used by the Chinese as a buffer against Russian expansion in the nineteenth and 20th century.
Nearby borders are with Afghanistan, Kirghizistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Tibet and India. The Ferghana Valley and Tashkent in Uzbekistan are also not far away.
It is isolated from Urumchi to the north and southern Xinjiang by the Takla Makan Desert. The Takla Makan, supposedly the place from which no one returns, occupies the central part of the Tarim Basin. During the Silk Road period travellers to the north travelled along the base of the Tienshan Mountains or by the southern route along the Kunlun Mountains or Tibetan plateau. By either route one still had to cross the Gobi Desert to the East to get to China.
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