Silk Road Travel from China to Kyrgyzstan
Nowadays, the Silk Road is not only a channel for commercial activities but also a cultural road linking the East and the West. In this tour, you will experience the various facets of the Silk Road, its history, religions, arts, music, cultural treasures and people's livelihood.
What to visit?
There are many beautiful natural landscapes and historical sites along the silk road and it's time to pick some destinations and start our journey!
As the Starting Point of the Silk Road, it was once the imperial capital of 13 ancient dynasties, Xi'an is the best witness of China's long history and time-honoured cultures. The city presents the unique amalgamation of stunningly ancient and modern architectures, allowing tourists from all over the world to dive into the richness and distinctiveness of its cultural heritage.
Ancient City Wall:
The natives always say the journey to Xi'an is not complete without visiting the Ancient City Wall, which has been stretched round to guard the inner city since the 13th century. Even nowadays, the massive, ancient City Wall is still strong and solid. It is the best-preserved city wall in China, and also one of the oldest intact military fortifications in the world.
Xi'an City Wall stretches almost 14 kilometres (8.7 miles) in length. The best way to see the entire wall might be cycling. Rental bikes are available around. If you are at a leisurely pace, biking the entirety takes approximately 1.5 to 2 hours. Keep your eyes open for the spectacular gates, ramparts, and a deep moat surrounding the wall.
The diverse heritage in Xi'an is supreme, particularly with the highlight of Terracotta warriors and horses, a collection of more than 7,000 life-sized terracotta sculptures serving as a protection for the tomb of Qin Shi Huang (the first emperor who unified the country). Historical records reveal that it took over 700,000 people's some 30 years to complete.
Soldier figures are varied in facial expressions, clothing, hairstyles and gestures; so are their horses, chariots and weapons. These masterpieces have provided abundant detailed evidence for the study of the history of military, culture, art, and economics of the Qin Dynasty (221-206 B.C.).
Considered as one of the greatest discoveries of the 20th century, these delicately crafted and painted models have delighted millions of visitors both at home and abroad.
Giant Wild Goose Pagoda:
The Big Wild Goose Pagoda was erected in 652 during the Tang Dynasty (618-907). It was originally used to store Buddhist scriptures and relics that Buddhist monk Tang Xuanzang brought back from the Silk Road and India.
Located in the southern suburb of Xi'an, the Buddhist pagoda is an excellent example of Chinese pavilion-style brick towers inspired by Western civilization. The tower measures 64 metres high, with seven floors. The lowermost side of the tower is 25 metres long, and the above layers gradually reduced, showing a pyramidal shape. For a good photogenic spot, you could walk to the top of the Pagoda to enjoy the wonderful view of the city.
Arriving in Lanzhou, we're halfway through the journey. Growing up on a strategic stretch of the Yellow River, Gansu's provincial capital reflected in its mix of ethnic groups and cultures, showing the charm of the city to the world.
Want to taste some local delicacies? Lanzhou beef noodle is one treat you cannot miss. It is usually served with clear soup and hand-pulled noodle. In halal restaurants in China, only quality local beef from the Southern Yellow Cattle prepared by the local halal butcher is used for Lanzhou beef noodle. Specially cooked Chinese spicy oil is also an indispensable part.
Set on the edge of the Silk Road, Dunhuang may seem like an unlikely place to find an oasis of Buddhist art. With towering dunes in the background, the caves here reflect the power of divine inspiration.
The Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang is considered one of the most important collections of Buddhist art in the world. It is a complex of 492 grottoes adorned with Buddhist statuary and frescoes, created between the 4th and 14th centuries. At its zenith during the Tang Dynasty, the site housed 18 monasteries, more than 1,400 monks and nuns, and countless artists, translators, and calligraphers.
Mingsha Mountain and Crescent Moon Spring:
Six kilometres south of Dunhuang at Singing Sands Dune, the desert meets the oasis in the most spectacular view. From the sheer scale of the dunes, it's easy to see how Dunhuang gained its name "Town of Sand". In the same area is the Shallow Spring fed Crescent Moon Lake, which forms an oasis at the desert's edge. A peculiar natural phenomenon occurs when standing on top of the dune. If it's a windless day, a sound similar to a flute can be heard, but if there are many people descending the dune at once it becomes a thunderclap.
As the provincial city of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Urumqi has become a new metropolis in northwest China over the last few years.
The International Grand Bazaar:
The International Grand Bazaar is a good place to taste the Xinjiang flavours and buy some souvenirs. It covers a huge commercial complex with a local food plaza, shopping plaza, ethnic handicraft stores, exhibitions, an outdoor performance square, and mosques. It is the largest Bazaar in China and the landmark tourist attraction in Urumqi.
As one of the popular travel destinations in Xinjiang, stepping into Kashgar is like being transported into the mysterious Arabian Fairy Tales.
This far-flung city in Xinjiang is a must-see for its beautiful scenery and intoxicating culture. Miraculous, modern China peels away to reveal the arresting sights, sounds, fragrance and atmosphere of a 2,000-year-old Middle Eastern Town.
Kashgar old town:
Two-thousand-year-old Kashgar old town has been a crucial trading centre on the ancient Silk Road, enticing travellers and traders alike with its captivating bazaars, maze-like residences and vibrant street life. It still retains the exotic air and immense appeal of medieval Asia.
In the ancient enclave called the Old Town sinuous dirt paths barely two-mules wide are lined with age-old shops. Generous legs of lamb, succulent mutton strips, leather, pots of all shapes and sizes or caps for every occasion hang from rickety wooden beams - the same as it's been for centuries.
This mesmerizing Muslim city tucked away in China's westernmost frontier brims with colour and contrasts. Fridays and Saturdays may be quiet prayer days but when Sunday comes around, watch the city thrive with life. The entire community and visitors by the thousands throng Kashgar's famed Sunday Market.
Kashgar is miles away from anywhere, but the items that turn up at its markets are varied. At the weekly Animal Bazaar, fowl and various four-legged animals are scrutinized, prodded and traded. Observe the traders closely for their bargaining is an ancient art form; the sellers and buyers indicate their asking price and counter-price by scripting it into each other's palms all the while shaking each other's hand.
Id Kah Mosque
"Id Kah" means "a place of praying and celebrating in festivals." The Id Kah Mosque is the largest mosque in China, covering 16,800 square meters. The mosque was built in 1442 and is located in the central square in Kashgar.
It was once a cemetery, the Id Kah Mosque consists of a courtyard, a hall of prayer, a gate tower and other structures.
Muslims worship five times a day. There are usually 2,000 or 3,000 Muslims worshipping here, and during festivals, as many as 20,000 to 30,000.
There are some religious customs that you should pay attention to. Never stand in front of a Muslim when they worship, because they are facing the direction of the holy city of Mecca in the west.
From China to Kyrgyzstan:
We ended our trip at Kashgar in Xinjiang. Then we will drive across the border junction of the Western China Highway and travel from China's Torugar Port to Kyrgyzstan.
Must-see Attractions in Kyrgyzstan:
Kyrgyzstan is a landlocked country of incredible natural beauty. With mountainous landscape, craggy ridges and nomadic traditions, the country has a lot to offer, though it is not a top destination for global travellers.
The country is also a hotspot for biodiversity. The crystal blue high-altitude lake Issyk Kul, known as the pearl of Central Asia, is one of the world's oldest lakes. The picturesque Sary-Chelek Nature Reserve, which has an abundance of flora and fauna, is an excellent nature reserve for locals and travellers alike.
Issyk-Kul Lake is the second largest mountain lake in the world. Its name means "warm lake" because it never freezes despite its high altitude in the Tian Shan Mountains.
The lake is connected to China not only via roads but also in history. It was visited by a Chinese Buddhist monk Xuan Zang in the 7th century. You might have heard about "Journey to the West" and its main character Monkey King. It's a classic Chinese novel and legendary story inspired by Xuan Zang.
According to some accounts, the great poet Li Bai, who lived during China's Tang Dynasty 1,300 years ago, was born nearby, in a place called Suyab. That was a major city on the ancient Silk Road.
On your way to Bishkek, you will visit Burana Tower (a minaret from the 11th century) 75 km east from the Burana city is a 25m-high tower, which dates from the 11th century and is all that remains of the ancient city of Balasagyn. The name "Burana" most probably comes from the wrongly pronounced word "Monara" which means Minaret. The minaret is an obligatory part of any mosque, it is a tower from which the Muslims were called up for the next prayer. Some centuries ago the tower was 44 metres high, but after an earthquake in early 1900, the upper part fell down.and an Open Air Museum of Balbans (stone warriors).
When it comes to landmark buildings in Bishkek, it must be the central Ala-Too Square, This is the central square in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. The square was built in 1984 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Kyrgyz SSR, at which time a massive statue of Lenin was placed in the square's centre. The statue of Lenin was moved in 2003 to a smaller square in the city, and a new statue called Erkindik (Freedom) was installed in its place. then we will take a tour at Duboviy Park (Oak Park), The Dubovy Park is full of strollers on warm Sundays, has a few open-air cafés and some neglected modern sculpture and funnily enough, century-old oaks. Where Erkindik Prospektisi (Freedom Ave) entres the park, there is an open-air art gallery. and stroll around the Pobeda Square (Victory Square), the History Museum, National philharmonic and Asian Bazaar, as well as other places of interest. This bazaar is very colourful and noisy. People sell all kinds of goods there. You will walk in the bazaar for about an hour to see local people, commodities, fruits, vegetables and meat shop to name just a few.
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