One way to experience the legend of the purported Eighth Wonder of the World, the Karakoram Highway (or KKH for short), is to travel from Kashgar to the town of Tashkurgan. Although Tashkurgan itself isn’t much of a destination, it’s a great place to rest for the night after a six-hour journey. I’d been told that there was no other way for a tourist without his/her own transport to get to Tashkurgan other than renting a private car and driver, something that could be booked by my hostel. However, I needed fellow travelers to split the costs and fortunately for me, while in my hostel in Kashgar, I met fellow travelers Sem, Zoe, Alex, and Kevin who had planned to do same journey as well, already had a car and driver booked for the next day, and most importantly, had room for one more.
Funnily enough, I had actually run across this group of four back in my hostel in Turpan. I saw them around but did not engage them then. How unfortunate for me because I soon found out they were such wonderful people to travel with. (Although I mostly travel solo and am comfortable doing so, I had been missing the camaraderie that comes from traveling with others; it was a refreshing feeling that really added to the overall experience.)
On the morning of our departure, we were picked up by our friendly Chinese driver. He brought us to his minivan which also contained his two young daughters who were going to accompany us on our journey. They seemed accustomed to foreigners as their father must’ve done several trips like this in the past.
What was so great about the KKH was the scenery along the way, which you can imagine from the pictures below. It is also one of the (if not the) highest paved roads in the world and at times, we could feel the altitude as we found breathing slightly difficult.
As we made stops along the way, first at the tiny town of Opal to eat some greasy “zhua fan” (no doubt one of my favorite food in China), White Sand Lake (which looked almost like a desert again a turquoise sea), and Karakul Lake (where the Ice Mountain Father, “Muztagh Ata”, watched us), we finally arrived in Tashkurgan late in the evening.
Our hostel, “K2 Hostel”, the only one in Tashkurgan that hosted foreign travelers, was surprisingly cozy. After we put down our backpacks and settled into our dorm, we decided to go find some food. What were our choices? Surprisingly not many as we walked through the mostly quiet town. In the end, we settled on some suspect “laghman” noodles, which turned out to be fine and held us over.
After returning to our hostel, a few people retired early while the rest of us enjoyed beer and the night’s World Cup game. The food menu at the bar had several Pakistani dishes and the barman/chef himself was Pakistani. It made sense as Tashkurgan wasn’t too far from the China-Pakistani border.
The next morning, we woke up and found a shop nearby our hostel which served a buffet breakfast of sorts so we ate there. I don’t think the food was very appetizing but again, it did the trick and solved our morning hunger pangs. After that, off we went the other way, back to Kashgar. We stopped again on the same popular stops to get more of the same pictures.
Overall, it was a wonderful 2d/1n overland journey and I was happy to get to share with with a few people because they were a lot of fun. Thanks for the great memories Sem, Zoe, Alex, and Kevin.