Karakol high way 中國|冷美的喀拉崑崙公路


May, 2017

The eighth day of road trip, we arrived at our destination-Kashgar in the morning. I was so exhausted that I had to lie on the bed soon, of course I took a shower well first. it seemed like all the tourists gathering at the same hostel in Kashgar. We could only find couchsurfing host in Urumqi, all the reservation to hostels were rejected because of Ramadan. After we arrived at Kashgar, we found out there’s no religious custom issue. All the restaurants, shops hangs on a big photo of Leader Xi and a communist party advertisement poster. Some of the shops even put a warning board: Do not wearing hijab, Do not praying, Do not wearing traditional clothes, and no beard! Aww, if you see some old men wearing beards, it means they got approval from government.

Next day, we and 2 German and 1 Chinese had a conversation. They were colleagues from a company. They intended to travel to China-Pakistan border by car, the highest border in the world. It’s also a place I had dreamed of for long time, but I mean the Pakistan side. It took us long time discussing for this traveling plan. Because we have to rent a car, apply for driving approval, and hiring a guide. Especially hostel staffs warned us that we must travel with a guide in that region and pass the check points. But it’s really too expensive for us, no sense to hire a guide just for driving to places we want. Finally we decided to go ourselves. If we won’t pass the checkpoint, we back to here. Though I can’t go to Pakistan, let me physically close to it. So we left with few simple clothes.

Drive to the south direction, we passed through 2 or 3 small towns and stopped for a meal. They said they don’t want to eat lamb anymore (because Uyghur eats a lot lambs), they had no choice, still ordered lamb dishes in the end. We kept going after the meal. I could saw high mountains from far away. To see mountains covered with snows in the end of May was a magical thing to me. The more we close to main checkpoint the more I want to see Karakol highway, then I can see the real beauty. We have had passed 2 checkpoints, they only took a look of our ID. Before entering the main one, we stopped for taking some photos. All the car had begun driving slowly. Don’t know why I had my body scanned by a female police. Do they worry that women are better deceive people? Before walking with 3 European to the window beside the gate, I told one of them I’m not good at cheating. I couldn’t tell police the guy who’s in our car is a tour guide. “Are you their tour guide?" Yes, the police asked me, and I answered " No, I’m not their tour guide. But we are with one “local" Chinese guy." In China I always told people I’m from Taiwan. Some people said it’s also Chinese. I could only smiled to people if I’m at the checkpoint. Even I had “Taiwanese residents ID", I couldn’t travel freely in this region. “So, where is he?" The police asked, I pointed to our car and informed him we had driving approval. Fortunately, he didn’t asked further questions, only warned us we have to travel with a guide next time.

Then we were all very excited all the way.

We came to the first lake, Bulunkol lake. I ran to the lakeside immediately when our “guide was parking the car. The first sightseeing we saw on karakol highway was really breathtaking beautiful. This is what people described the blue-green. Air was too fresh, I had to yelled at them " bring me my scarf, please!" Sure enough, the temperature dropped a lot, it made me felt wanted to pee. I had realized we arrived low temperature mountains area. That’s why I carried my winter coat around whole China for this occasion. We all satisfied the first sightseeing. The second lake called Karakol. The actual meaning is unknown, google said it means “black lake". I’m sure it’s not blue-green. It was grey, which reflected from cloudy skies. We kept heading to the south, it’s southwest edge of Tarim Basin. We were amazed by the view. And we checked the altitude every now and then. 3000 meter, 3200 meter, 3500 meter, 3800…. we reached to a peak at high speed. Oh yes, we broke 4000 meters. Finally I came to a place higher than the highest mountain of Taiwan. We stopped at the peak, was walking few steps and had difficulties with breathing. We were happy in hearts but body was getting cold. Winds blows us into the car.

I remember few days ago we had once stopped at a checkpoint, a police had recommended me to go to Tashqurghan, then I unexpectedly arrived here. Residents look like Uyghur, but their cheeks are more red here. It’s dusk and not many people on the street. We still struggling to make approval for border, although we finally arrived the main town before border, but it’s not that easy. Unless you are a Chinese, you have to hold a Pakistan visa for seeing the border. It’s a pity. We decided to stay in the hostel for one night then back to Kashgar the next morning. I don’t know it’s because of the weather or the “XinJiang issue", I felt cheerless. We walked around then chose a normal Chinese restaurant. This time they didn’t have to eat lamb.









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