“Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid...” - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Day 09: 30 May 2013
|(The Yin Rui Lin Hotel)|
Kashgar or Kashi is an oasis county-level city with approximately 350,000 residents in the western extremity of the People's Republic of China, near the border with Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Kashgar is a region with more than 30 ethnic minorities. In Kashgar, visitors can appreciate the unique landscapes of Lake Karakul, the Dawakun Desert, and Shiptom Arch.
|(Assorted of nan bread)|
Today we braced ourselves for the ultimate in road trips on the highest paved road in the world to cross the border at Gezcun, where photographs are strictly prohibited, to travel to Lake Karakul. The Karakoram Highway is 800 miles of mountain road connecting Pakistan with China across some of the tallest mountains in the world. This highway connects China and Pakistan across the Karakoram mountain range, through the Khunjerab Pass, at an elevation of 4,693 metres.
|(Snow-capped mountain range)|
|(Tajik's tents along the highway)|
|(Border control check at Gezcun)|
The highway is named after the Karakoram, the Western reach of the Himalayas, which span the confluence of India, Pakistan and China. Home to five of the fourteen eight-thousanders, the longest glaciers outside the Polar Regions and a vicious conflict between India and Pakistan fought in 20,000-ft mountain passes. It is the perfect place for a dramatic epic road, with scenic and beautiful views.
|(Crossing the mountainous range)|
|(Toilet stop, bring own water)|
|(Rest and acclimatization)|
|(Yaks on green pasture)|
Lake Karakul is located at the foot of Mount Muztagata, and is 191 km from Kashgar. It is not far from the base camp if you wish to climb Mount Muztagata. If you walk or ride a camel, it will take five hours to arrive there. Karakul means black sea. The altitude of the lake is 3,600 meters with a depth of 30 meters and a total area of 10 square km. Lake Karakul is a high mountain lake, with a surface reflecting the lofty and mysterious Mount Muztagata.
|(The Karakul Lake aka the Black Lake)|
|(Horse riding along the lake)|
|(Toilets on high altitude)|
Through the winding road of Karakoram highway, our bus driver drove carefully and cautiously slow as some parts of the road was too narrow for two vehicles to pass and some stretches were under repairs. While ascending the mountainous terrain, we were advised to always take a slow deep breath and drink a lot of water to acclimatize our body for the high altitude and extreme weather. When we reached the Karakul Lake we had lunch and enjoyed the beautiful view of the lake from the one and only restaurant and took lots of scenic photo shots.
|(Cosy tents for rent)|
|(Performing prayer in the open)|
Unfortunately we could not stay long as one lady from our group experienced light headedness and fainted. And a few more had nausea and trouble in breathing. Because of the acute mountain sickness experienced by some, we didn't stop at the Opal Village as planned.
|(The Uyghur family)|
On the way down most of us slept all the way to Kashgar City. After a short rest in the hotel, we went to have a very late dinner. Tonight we stayed another night in Yin Rui Lin International Hotel.