To Mazar, Xinjiang, China Week 128 September 13th - 14th 2013
South from Kashgar.

The unmistakeable profile of an iron and steel works. Probably Bau Steel.

The earth is very much Loess like.

We think small brick kilns. But maybe mausolea?

We are skirting the western edge of the Takelamagan Shamo - the Takelamagan Desert.

Its a shifting sand desert. We are at the western edge and little evidence of dunes.

Otherwise known as the Taklamakan Desert.

Seems to be as many names for the same place as I've had hot dinners.

To Yecheng.

Don't panic, its a fire truck not riot control.

Turn right onto the beginning of the highest road in the world.

We are leaving Uigher territory. The Uighers we've met have been keen to tell us they are Uigher. And to confuse us with "local time", which is two hours behind of the official Beijing time.

Beginning with an endless, ornate, straight bit.
Across some more flat desert, but we are leaving it behind as the valley deepens and narrows.

I guess we are headed for mountainous desert.

The north of Pakistan is to our south west. Tibet to our south east.

Our route towards and through the mountains is obvious.

After a couple of days we'll turn south east through the mountains.

Kashgar (at the north of the green line) was an important Silk Road junction. The "North Silk Road" came from the east and continued to the north west, through the Irkestan Pass to Kyrgizstan.

We came to Kashgar from almost due north.

The "South Silk Road" is round the south of the desert. We leave it at Yecheng to see mountains.

Mazar is at the south end of our red line.

The Karakoram Highway south west from Kashgar was also a Silk Road route.

Yingchu provided the birthday cake for me.

So we roadside camped a few km south of Yecheng and ate some.

Yingchu also brought some oxygen in lightweight bottles. Just in case.

Altitude sickness is a real possibility, though we are probably reasonably aclimatised so far.

It still looks like Loess to us. Very fine. Now forming the sides of the valley.
Hardening to rock in places.
And water eroded.
And then the valley narrowed to a gorge.
A tortuous route through the mountains.

Up from the plain.

The road is visible way above us.

No crash barriers was a bit unnerving.

We are climbing from below 2,000m to around 5,000m.
Over the Kubidaban (Daban is pass). A small pass, above 4,000m, then down again.

A glimpse of snow topped mountains in the distance.

A few more corners. And even some bends.
Down to an unnamed (unknown to us) River
Just a few patches of grass, and a few camels.
And a few snowy mountains.
The river cuts through the alluvial deposits previously eroded from the peaks.
A short loo stop and a photo opportunity.
Then the view back from the top of Mazardaban (Mazar Pass).
Only 4,988m! We reach higher in a couple of days.

The red engine warning light has behaved itself. It comes on when speed and revs reduce. Above around 1800rpm pushing uphill its off.

On all the way downhill to around 3,800m.

I suspect the Chinese diesel may provide more power. Driving "feels" differentand fuel consumption may be lower.

The only error message is "Turbo Boost Pressure". Which makes sense at altitude. The errors first seen, like engine running in reverse, can be reasonably considered "furphies".

A sense of relief, the red light is understood and predictable.

The OBD cable which we will meet in Lhasa won't be wasted, information about the engine is always valuable.

The intrepid duo!
Ali and Yingchu.

We learned that Chinese GPS have the coordinate functions disabled - they neither report nor accept latitude and longiitude.

Which meant that the plan to tell Rob and Clary our campsite coordinates each night was a tad flawed.

And explains why, even with gps, guides sometimes have difficulty finding places.

The army have different gps units.

And a brief glimpse of the panorama - I promise to improve the stitching! Its a bit vast for the technology. This is about 135 degrees.
We can look down at where we go.
With a few twists and turns.
And colours.

The reds are probably coloured by iron oxide.

Not sure where the mine is but we've seen trucks carrying what looks like magnetite.

A long way to go to the iron and steel works we saw, and not enough trucks to sustain that size of plant.

We've stopped at Mazar.

For noodles.

A transport caf.

Mazar isn't very big. Its very small. Just a junction in the road really, with a bit of accommodation and restaurants. A truck stop plus an army unit.

We turn left. Sort of over our left shoulder.

The valley in front leads over a pass to meet the Karakoram Highway (to Pakistan) at Khunjerab, near the Pakistan border.

We came from the right.

To the left hand, totally hidden by the sides of the valley, would be K2 (Mt Godwin-Austen 8,611m).

We are in the Kunlun Shan. The other side of the border is the Karakoram.

We camped a couple of hundred meters along our road, on the river flats.

And finished the birthday cake.

To Dahongliutan, Kunlun Mountains, Xinjian, China Week 129 September 15th 2013

Ian & Jan Wed, 18 Sep 13 05:58:47 +1000
Those 'Twists & Turns' made us think back to that small twisty drive in Morocco, but not sure if you two went up or down it while you were there? With that thick coat on Julian we think it was a wee bit cold in the Transport Cafe, so hope you remembered the Electric Blanket for the bed???
Wot wuz that? You have to pedal like hell on the mobile generator to even get a spark out of the blanket! Bah Humbug...Hee Hee!

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