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.
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.