The Silk Road is a remarkable story from the old times. The route was taken by merchants from Islamabad, Pakistan to Xian, China. Even in modern times, we would need to pass many remote wilderness and deserts. Travellers who want to experience the Silk Road could start from Xian, which was the old capital of China. The city is a bland of ancient and modern times, with its new and old buildings. The city has a long history and we can find more than a few attractions in the area. As an example, the most popular place to visit in Xian is the Terracotta Warriors, which is essentially a large tomb guarded by hundreds of non-identical stone warriors. To enter the famed Silk Road, we could go to the Jiayuguan, which is located at the western end of the Great Wall. The town is known for its beautiful remoteness and the nearby snow capped mountains. The next town to visit is Dunhuang and it is a popular stop for ancient traders. There are the Magao Grottoes, which is a collection of Buddhist statues, murals and carving. Along the cliff face, there are nearly 500 carved caves and thousands of colored statues in a 45,000m2 area.
After Dunhuang, we would start to enter a desert part of China and mountains of stones are eventually replaced by mountains of sand. In this area, the sun heat can be quite immense and it must be quite daunting to traverse the area with stubborn and slow camels. We could continue our journey until we reach the oasis town of Turpan and it was essential for traders, as a place to restock their water and food. Turpan is located in a depression and actually lower than the sea level. It means that the basin could accumulate plenty of heat during the summer. However, the unique geography has allowed a source of water to be accessible for people since the ancient times. Turpan is known for its grape orchards and vines can be found in many parts of the area. The next town to visit is Urumqi in Kazakhstan and it is located high on the mountains. This is a good opportunity to spend the night at the yurt camp, which is also how ancient traders spent their nights in the area. It would be the time to try local cuisine and many yurt camps have pot belly stoves where people could gather around before bedtime.
Kashgar is an important trading center, where many tribes in such as Kyrgyz, Tajiks, Uyghurs, Uzbeks and Kazakhs gather. The place has been established more than 2000 years ago and seeing the donkey cart jams could be quite interesting for many travellers. It is also a good place to find lunch. Kashgar can be a photographic nirvana. We could finally enter Pakistan by passing the highest border crossing in the world at the Khunjerab Pass. The cold climate is a huge difference compared to the stifling heat in the low Turpan basin. The border crossing is located at 4700m above sea level and as we descend down, we could see many breathtaking views, including the Indus river below and many fruit orchards.