Xinjiang- Trip of a Lifetime
With so many teachers currently working in China being encouraged to stay in country over the summer holiday, I thought it would be a good time to share some of my own China travel routes and favourite places to visit in China. As a student studying in Beijing in 2007, my friends and I really did take advantage of all weekends and holidays to experience more of China. Perhaps one of my favourite trips was that to Xinjiang with one of my best pals (and ultimate travel buddy) Becs Phillips.
We flew into Urumqi from Hangzhou and I remember being instantly wowed by the heat, language and smells. Here is a quick list of the places we visited in order, travel was done by bus mainly at night when the weather cooled and we flew back into Beijing in early August 2008 a few days before the opening of the Olympic Games.
Our Travel Route
Urumqi – Kashgar – Karakul Lake – Kashgar – Hotan – Turpan – Urumqi (with lots of small town stops inbetween!)
Why I recommend Xinjiang?
Xinjiang really is the most colourful place I have ever been to. Colourful spices, clothing and buildings all help to paint the cities and add individual character and charm.
Xinjiang has stunning natural beauty, whilst there we saw everything from crystal clear lakes, snow capped mountains to the driest of deserts.
Xinjiang can be known to operate on it’s own time zone. Officially the province should work to Beijing time but the distance between the two provinces means that this doesn’t always work in Xinjiang. I remember learning to always double check bus departure times- let’s just say a fair few buses were missed!
Having already been in China for almost a year and then visiting Xinjiang, I felt pretty confident in my travelling abilities and having the company of Becs. Yet I really did feel far removed from everything I knew, a feeling of excitement and intrepidation that I have only ever felt on this trip. It’s somewhere like Xinjiang where you are exposed to new challenges but surprise yourself with how you deal with them.
We learned so much about the history, geography and politics of the province as well as a great deal about ourselves. Travelling and pushing yourself is good for the soul, the friendships too that you make with companions together with your memories last forever.
If you’d like to learn more about travel in Xinjiang and travel in China please feel free to get in touch. As always please ensure you check the FCO website for the most up to date travel advice for within China.