As many of you know, I was laid off from my financial job on New Year’s Eve (classy timing). But this upsetting twist has been an amazing thing. I’ve been busy writing full time now, and making a fairly decent income to boot. I’ve been painting and touring around Shanghai as well, and will upload pictures of the paintings soon.

Shanghai to Ashgabat
Shanghai to Ashgabat

Alas, this time should not go wasted. It is rare that I have money saved up, free time, and the perfect location from which to launch a trip like this one. I’m planing a journey across land from Shanghai to Ashgabat, beginning late April. So far, I have the first half of the trip, some 8,200 miles, planned.  I’ll take the train from Shanghai to Urumqi, which is a 48 hour trip through a varied and diverse terrain. I’ll be writting on the train, as well as photographing the changes as we chug through flatlands, mountains and then desert.  From Urumqi I’ll take an overnight bus to Kashgar, the bus takes 24 hours and skirts along the Taklamakan desert, one of the harshest in the world.The bus leaves mid day so that we will be traveling by night through the deepest parts of the desert.

Kashgar is one of the few places on the planet that inspires instant envy. I’m enveious of the folks I know who have been there who claim it is truly an oasis of culture and color- the fading with the influx of new residents. I want to get there before it compleately dissapears.

From Kashgar to Ashgabat, the roads are a bit hazy and the trip a bit more dangerous. Careful planning is needed, at least to secure visas, permits and find a map with existing roads on it. This second phase of the journey will be planned at a later stage. For now, I’m busy finding out what there is to see along the route I have mapped so far. I’ve been to Turpan and toured around Urumqi, so this trip I’d like to check out some outlying villages to the North of the city before heading through the desert to Kashgar. At some point, I’m determined to use a camel as a mode of transportation.

I just hope my laptop doesnt melt. April/May is a rough time to be out in the desert, but alas there is no time like the present. It will take about a month to finish planning, packing and acquiring visas, hence, the adventure begins now!

-Posted by Lauren.

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  • Josh says:

    Wow! Sounds like a great trip. My wife and I, who live here in Xinjiang, have taken the bus route between Urumqi and Kashgar. It actually turned out to be something like 26 hours, but it wasn’t all that bad. Train wouldn’t be a bad alternative either, if you’re interested in that.

    Depending on how much time you have I hope you can really enjoy Kashgar. I visited there last October and was captured by how different it is even from the rest of Xinjiang that I have known. If you’re interested, I’ve posted about quite a few places around Kashgar including the Id Kah mosque, the Old City, and the Karakul Lake toward the south.

    Good luck on the trip and I look forward to reading about how it goes.

  • Asmara Melang says:

    Hey Lu, Looking forward to meeting up with you at some point along the way. Ain’t nothing like a long desert train ride…. Miss ya, Mo

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