Day 17: Finally Back to Kashgar to Wrap Up the Trip
We retraced our final steps from Tashkurgan to Kashgar today, and left straight after the 8am breakfast. Unlike our previous morning in Tashkurgan a couple of weeks ago for which we had a brilliant blue sky and sunshine, the pre-dawn light was hazy and the surrounding mountains were faintly visible through it. It turned out that there had been a sandstorm in Kashgar, with dust blowing in from the Taklamakan Desert, and the dust clouds had reached even Tashkurgan high in the mountains.
The constant haze was a disappointment, as I’d been hoping the spectacular views would break up the monotony of the long drive. For the first time all trip I dozed off in the bus, and woke up as we crested the pass at 4100m with Muztagh Ata’s silhouette faintly visible to our right with the sun rising behind it.
It was slow going as we worked our way through the 60km of construction and road works, but we still made good time back to Kashgar and were ensconced in our hotel (the brand spanking new Radisson Blu this time around) by mid-afternoon with time to relax before dinner.
The final group dinner for the trip was at a Chinese restaurant in the old British Consulate building, a now-dilapidated brick and plaster building dating from the early 1900s. Our Pakistani guides Shifa and Didar had stayed with us all the way to Kashgar, and they joined us to celebrate the end of our successful trip. Back at the hotel I downed a couple of whiskeys with Vassi and reflected on how the trip had gone, and I then toddled off to bed to get a good night’s sleep in before the monumental task starts tomorrow to get back to SFO via four flights and three countries.