Westernmost China

This item appears on page 30 of the April 2010 issue.
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I chose the “Silk Road plus Shangri-La” tour, May 26-June 11, 2009, from China Plus (Irving, TX; 888/868-8811) because, after a day in Beijing, it went to the furthermost province in the west of China, Xinjiang. The cost, with air from the West Coast, was $4,298.

I never expected to see such contrasts, even in the landscape — from desert to mountain peaks. I enjoyed seeing Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi. What a surprise to see skyscrapers and fancy shop windows in this 2,000-year-old city!

Other highlights were Kashgar (still, for now, with mud-and-straw houses, narrow alleys and donkey carts), the earthen city of Jiaohe, the Karez Wells and the Mogao Grottoes (which have Buddhist paintings inside). The charming Old City of Lijiang in Yunnan was a favorite.

I encountered friendly people in the markets, on the streets and in a Walmart! I did not care for the Eastern-style toilets, and there was much waiting time in airports — necessary to cover so much area in 17 days.

My suggestion for travelers on this trip — take some Western food to snack on, such as peanut butter, crackers and tuna packets.

ESTHER HANKIN
Novi, MI

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

I chose the “Silk Road plus Shangri-La” tour, May 26-June 11, 2009, from China Plus (Irving, TX; 888/868-8811) because, after a day in Beijing, it went to the furthermost province in the west of China, Xinjiang. The cost, with air from the West Coast, was $4,298.

I never expected to see such contrasts, even in the landscape — from desert to mountain peaks. I enjoyed seeing Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi. What a surprise to see skyscrapers and fancy shop windows in this 2,000-year-old city!

Other highlights were Kashgar (still, for now, with mud-and-straw houses, narrow alleys and donkey carts), the earthen city of Jiaohe, the Karez Wells and the Mogao Grottoes (which have Buddhist paintings inside). The charming Old City of Lijiang in Yunnan was a favorite.

I encountered friendly people in the markets, on the streets and in a Walmart! I did not care for the Eastern-style toilets, and there was much waiting time in airports — necessary to cover so much area in 17 days.

My suggestion for travelers on this trip — take some Western food to snack on, such as peanut butter, crackers and tuna packets.

ESTHER HANKIN
Novi, MI