The Karakorum Highway
Tajik Autonomous County
Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region
People’s Republic of China
July 6, 2017
My Dear Friends,
What a splendid, albeit cloudy and misty, ride along the Karakorum Highway to Tashkurgan and an equally splendid, sunny and clear, ride back to Kashgar the following day.
The last town in China before the border of Pakistan, Tashkurgan Town has a long history as a major stop on the ancient Silk Road along the Karakorum Highway. The Highway runs from Kashgar, China in the north to Islamabad, Pakistan in the west.
In the local Turkic languages, Tashkurgan mean “stone fortress” or “stone tower” that refers to the stone fortress just outside town. But I am guessing the Tajik and the Kirgiz people who live in the region and who herd animals and farm in the grasslands are really referring to the sheer stone walls of the surrounding mountain range.
The elevation of Tashkurgan Town is 3094m (10,151 ft.) but many of the nearby snowcapped mountains are twice that height. The towering Maztagh Ata stands at 7546m (24,757 ft.) or 4.68 miles above sea level.
While you catch your breath, take a ride with me to scan the inspiring mountains, lakes and grasslands. Let's visit the friendly Tajiks and Kirgiz, and meet the shy camels who say “hello” and then say “goodbye.”
This is my last letter from Xinjiang (this year) so I will also say “goodbye, for now.”