First stop Beijing

 

Silk Street, Forbidden City, Tianamen Sq

One Thursday 4th May I decided to be my own tour guide.  I had been told that it’s too far to do it alone and it won’t be any fun etc etc.   Pfffft! I can enjoy myself walking along any foreign street and I love wandering around all day.  So I decided to conduct my own tour. PS if you are commenting on Facebook, I can’t access it. I will open up comments on my blog pages for ppl desperate to connect!

3 little Beijing journeys in one day

I have no idea how this is panning out on Facebook because access is only occasional due to a few layers of tech issues.  .. anyhow... On Tuesday I went on 3 outings in Beijing.  The first was covered in my post of photos called Walk in Beijing.  I wandered off for a...

Morning walk in Beijing

Pics from a morning walk in Beijing. Click the link to circumvent the China Facebook ban.

Double Happiness Courtyard Hotel Beijing

Double Happiness Courtyard Hotel in one of the Hutong areas of Beijing. It’s in a VERY quiet area and takes you back in time. You will probably have to click the link to go to photos because of the China/Facebook block.

Use BaiDu Maps instead of Google Maps in China

So if you are travelling in China and working remotely, there are some essential tools which may not work. As my tour guide said yesterday, ‘if Google won’t abide by the laws of China then they can expect to not be allowed to operate here.’ I totally agree – F@#$ off Google and Facebook if you won’t accept China’s censorship laws. Click the full post link for more practical info.

Beijing Arrival

The photo is of the guard for my Alley - Dongsisitiao Alley.  The sign very clearly states - "Dear residents, In order to ensure the normal living order of the residents in the alley. Please take care of the environment at the same time, and consciously maintain the...

Reviews Page – stuff I bought for this trip

I purchased a lot of expensive items for my trip and thought it would be useful to log which ones did well and which ones didn’t. I’ve listed the items below and will fill in the blanks about their performance as and when appropriate.

Peregrine Adventures – Spirit of the Silk Road – Limited Edition

In May 2017, I did this Peregrine Adventures tour.  It was a valuable cultural experience, although they need to make some alterations to the itinerary or description.  There were many more long drives than explained in the description and the term ‘markets’ is used VERY loosely.  You don’t really get to see a true market until the final few days.  However, it was a great journey and something I will treasure.  If you don’t travel often, you may find it disappointing, but if like me you travel a lot, there’s enough to satisfy your curiosity about the Xinjiang region and its people.  I would like to thank my fellow travellers on this journey because they all pulled together like troupers and made the most of it when things weren’t exactly as promised.

I also had trouble getting assistance or information about before and after my journey.  I just needed Peregrine to explain what route most people would take when getting to the start at Urumqi and leaving from Kashi at the end.  Other people in the group had less than ideal plans for the trip back so I know I’m not alone – at least 2 people missed their connections back to Australia.  I took a conservative (and more expensive) approach, giving myself 2 nights in Beijing before and after the trip.  When I left my fellow traveller at Beijing Airport at 1am, she had missed her connection and was planning to purchase a ticket on the first plane out of there, no matter what the price… To avoid this type of stress, bear in mind that you need to go via Urumqi on leaving Kashi. According to flightaware.com Urumqi airport is 45 minutes late on average.  On the day we left Kashi, the government closed the city streets for 4 hours without any prior notice, then the airport was experiencing delays ‘due to congestion’.  My friend had planned a quick transition at Beijing because she thought she could book her bags all the way to Australia from Kashi – she was unable to do this, meaning that she would have to collect the bag and clear customs at Beijing – so even if her flight out was on time, it would have been impossible to facilitate this in under 3 hours.  Also, for the first flight, on the day I left Beijing for Urumqi, Beijing airport closed for 4 hours due to strong winds.  So be prepared and don’t expect to be able to transfer quickly – have a plan B, C and D for China.

And expect to be really tired after the Peregrine trip – it’s no picnic. I had 2 nights in Beijing in which to recuperate before heading for a hiking trip in Wakayama, Japan.  I’m just glad I’m a really healthy 55 year old, because it was a challenge.

This blog is in REVERSE order so scroll to the bottom for the start of the journey.

Getting out of Kashgar & final day in Beijing

Today is the day our tour in Xinjiang ends and the group is endeavouring to get out of town.. So the government suddenly decided to close the streets of Kashgar... Luckily they are set to open in time for me to get to the airport. Another guest in his 70’s needed to...

Kashgar 2

Peregrine description: Day 12 / 13 Learn about the history of the area today with a visit to the Tajik Museum and the nearby Stone City – an ancient fort on the outskirts of town. You'll then meet a Tajik family and spend time enjoying a meal together. Tajik people...

Tea in a Yurt on the banks of Karakul Lake

Our local guide stood at the front of the bus and waxed lyrical about the lovely new road ahead.  It had been built to replace 2 previous roads and cut the journey from 6 hours to 2 hours.  Part way along this lovely road we had to turn off and use the old road - a...

Upal Village Market

We left Kashgar with a full day's driving ahead of us climbing to altitude of 4000m (12000 feet). First stop was Upal Village market.  It was a very dusty traditional market with people bringing in their produce by donkey.  The women were dressed immaculately as...

Mausoleum of the fragrant concubine

Breakfast in the Hotel opened at 9am (Beijing Time which is 7am local time but there is only 1 timezone in China). We then headed off to see the second largest Mosque which also has the Mausoleum for the 'fragrant concubine'.. look up the story 🙂 . The tiles were...

Tashkurgan

Peregrine description: Day 11 Travel by to Karakul lake via the little town of Upal this morning (approximately 5-6 hours). The Upal country market is a great place to stop off to stretch your legs and browse through the food and daily supplies on sale. Next stop is...

Kashgar Stories Sunday Market

We went to the Kashgar Sunday Market which is the biggest in Central Asia. It was filled with colourful cloth, tea, spices, carpets, dried fruit and nuts.. We bargained our way around the place, tried all sorts of foods and tea and had a great time. We all had...

More Kashgar Animal Market stories

It was pretty sad to watch how scared the animals were but I wanted to look at what we do as meat eaters. We are prepared to buy packets of meat from a supermarket, but are we prepared to look at the whole process? The market was packed, there were carcasses hanging...

Kashgar Animal Markets 1 – food stalls

Kashgar Animal Markets 1 - food stalls We then headed to the animal market - it was a little smelly, but no more than Alice Springs Show. It was crowded and chaotic. We had to watch out we didn't get in the way. These photos are of the food vendors along the side of...

First evening in Kashgar

Kashgar has been the most exotic town so far. It has a real middle Eastern/Western China feel to it. The local women wear bright colourful clothes and the men wear suits and their Islamic hat. The men have dark leathery skin and white beards. They say that only the...

Kashgar 1

Peregrine description: Day 9 - 10 A long drive today takes you from Aksu to Kashgar (approximately 6 hours). Kashgar is very much a frontier town, quickly developing to take advantage of its geographical location right in the heart of Central Asia. There are still...

Aksu

We left Kuqa and headed towards Aksu where we will stay overnight on our way to Kashgar. Just our of Kuqa was the Subash Buddhist temple. This temple was visited by the monk who 'Monkey Magic' is about. He wrote a factual book about his journey and leanings and talked...

Aksu

Peregrine description: Day 8 Visit the Kuqa Great Mosque and then stop off at Subash Ancient City ruins on the drive to Aksu (approximately 2-3 hours) today. Aksu is located in a picturesque place at the Tien Shan foothills on the border with the Taklamakan Desert....

Kuqa and the 1000 Buddha Caves

We drove out of Kuqa to visit the thousand buddha caves. Most of the frescoes were removed by the Germans in the 1920's but enough remains for it to be quite incredible. No cameras were allowed, and who am I to argue with an armed guard? On the way to the caves we...

On the road from Korla to Kuqa

It was a long drive which should have taken 3-4 hours but instead we took 9 hours travelling through the Taklamakan Desert. Delays occured firstly because of the constant roadside Police checks. Sometimes they waved us through, sometimes they opened up the door to...

Kuqa

Peregrine description: Day 6 -7 Today travel from Korla to Kuqa via the mighty Taklamakan desert (approximately 3-4 hours). To break up the journey you will stop in Luntai for lunch, as well as for some photo stops at the edge of the desert. The Taklamakan, also known...

Foreigners in Korla

Today we made the long drive from Turpan to Korla across the Taklamakan desert. The city has a different feel to Turpan.  This region has an abundance of coal, gas and petroleum. Even though we are in the middle of a vast desert, construction of roads, railways and...

Korla

Peregrine description: Day 5. Travel from Turpan to Korla (approximately 5 hours). On your way to Korla you'll stop at the Iron Gate Pass. Historically the Iron Gate Pass was of strategic significance because it formed a vulnerable bottle-neck on the Silk Road. A...

Turpan Day 2

Here are the photos from Day 2 in Turpan. Tomorrow we head to Korla. This morning we travelled 70km to Tuyak village. It's a Uyghur village where about 70 families live in a traditional way. The Flaming Mountain range has 7 valleys and this village is situated in one...

Fun day in Turpan

Population 630 000 - 78% uyghur, 20% Han Chinese, and the rest a mix of 27 minorities. We arrived to our lovely Government Hotel in Turpan.  Everything is luxurious and clean and fresh.  This is a relief after Urumqi. The first thing we did was look for a lunch spot. ...

Across the Desert to Turpan

I had a really great day today.  We drove out early for the 2 hour journey across the desert to Turpan. The landscape was grey and shaley.  Mountains were in the distance either side of us.  We passed through masses of windfarms for over an hour of driving.  There...

Turpan

Peregrine description: Day 3 - 4 Today you will travel from Urumqi to Turpan (approximately 2 hours). The Turpan Depression is second only to the Dead Sea in Jordan as the lowest point on earth, and it gets quite hot here. It's a small city by Chinese standards, but...

Goodbye Urumqi

After an early morning walk around the streets of Urumqi saying goodbye to the cigarette smoke and pollution haze, I went back to the hotel for breakfast.  It turns out that other people in my group had a bad night with some of the young staff living it up and being...

Gas mask, torch and prayer mat

My hotel room in Ürümqi is well equipped with a torch, prayer mat and gas mask. I Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

Beijing to Urumqi and Security steps up

ecurity is ever present everywhere you go in Urumqi. There’s at least one Police building every 100 meters. When we entered the hotel we had to pass through a metal detector then get patted down. This happens every time we enter. Then we headed off to a restaurant… guess what? Metal detector and pat down! Super market?? Yep metal detector, pat down, scan with a hand held metal detector just for good measure.

Trip 16 Leaving in 2 weeks

I will be travelling for the whole month of May.  After a few days in Beijing, where I will be staying in one of the old Hutong districts that are being mostlly removed to make way for progress, I fly to Urumqi. Urumqi is in the NW Xinjiang district which borders the...

end Silk Road blog – on to Japan

Japan Nakahechi Trail – Kumano Kodo Trail,Japan

After the China trip, I headed from Beijing to Osaka for my next adventure, hiking the Nakahechi route of the sacred Komano Trail in Japan.

You will find the ramen of your dreams

Facebook conversation: Ben: They said look for a nondescript door with a pork bone hanging from it. Inside you will find the ramen of your dreams. But there were problems: #1 Google maps sucks in Tokyo. It can put you within 50 meters, but the rest is on you. #2 It...

Living the life of a millionaire without the bother of all those $$$ .......

Seriously, you don't need much money to live like a millionaire.. quite the opposite.

In 2010 (7 years ago) I came up with my adventure lifestyle challenge. I wondered whether it would be possible to work for 12 weeks, travel overseas for 4 weeks, then repeat... I also divided up my day, working from home, doing Web Site Design in the mornings and Massage in the afternoons. I am also a professional WordPress mentor helping people across the globe achieve their dreams. Both businesses now have clients on a 6-12 month waiting list... Strangely, the less I worked the more $ I made....

How did I do it? I'm still looking back defining all the little turns in life which lead to this balance, and writing a course to help you do the same..