Korla: The Dusty Pass and the Fragrant Pear


Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region


June 26, 2017

Dear Friends and Fellow Dreamers,

Stand with me now at the Iron Gate Tower … and imagine ….

Imagine that behind us lies the Tian Shan mountain range.  Our Silk Road caravan has traversed the mountains carrying goods from Pakistan and the West.  Beyond the gate we face steep cliffs and even more mountains.

Please close your eyes.

Can you hear the hooves of the burdened donkeys as they thread their way along the stones and rocks climbing ever upward through the narrow Tiemenguan Pass?

Can you taste the dust rising from the train of animals and men struggling up the barren path?

Can you detect the fragrance of the trees high up on the cliffs?

Can you feel the sun?  Can you hear the wind?

Anticipate with me that on the other side of the mountains our caravan faces the desert.  The interminable Taklamakan Desert.

We exchange donkeys for camels.

Our journey continues east.

Stand with me.

Imagine ….


Korla City (pop 1.1 million)

Bayinguolin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture - largest prefecture in China - 462, 700 Square kilometers – 178,650 sq. miles - larger than France

Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region

People’s Republic of China

June 26, 2017


Obviously, I cannot explore an area “larger than France” in two days.  But I did visit several lovely sites near the city of Korla.

The Iron Gate Pass is a stark reminder of the perils and the beauty of the commerce along the Ancient Silk Road.

The Tienmenguan Scenic Area is ideal for a day’s relaxation.

Bosten Lake (1000 sq. kilometers – 386 sq. miles) is rich in aquatic life and bird life and perfect for lengthy strolls along its shore.

The Pear Orchard is an enchanting “forest.”  Just as other cities in Xinjiang are known for their produce - Hami for melons and Turpan for grapes and raisins – the Korla Fragrant Pear, firm yet sweet, is equally in high demand. *

Most of the Bayinguolin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture is a barren desert of shifting sands from which oil and natural gas are extracted.  I suppose Korla has become an “oil boomtown.”  The boulevards are wide, traffic flows easily, and the city is connected to a modern network of road, rail, and air transportation.

I stayed at the first-class Kangcheng Jianguo International Hotel.  See my review on Trip Advisor.

As always, I am enjoying the scenery, and the fruit,


* PS   A friend in Houston mentioned that her husband wants to try the Korla Fragrant Pear.  Apparently, the pears are now available in the USA.




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