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  #1  
Old 2 Feb 2010
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Crossing China from Torugart via Kashgar - worth it?

Evening Hubbers,

We're currently planning the crossing from Torugart to Pakistan via Kashgar with several other Hubbers and are in contact with various agencies who are offering different length itineries (at wildly different prices!).

We're currently weighing up which itinery will be best for us, a 6 day trip or just rush through as quickly as possible, but don't really know how long we'll need, so I guess my question is this:

Can anyone who's passed this way give me any idea as to which is best in retrospect? Is it worth taking our time through and savouring all the culture or would you just get through as quickly as possible, save money and continue with our trip in a cheaper and less controlling country?

Any help you can give us would be gratefully received
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Old 9 Feb 2010
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I did this last year. Lots of trouble getting in because of the Olymics – in the end, Kashgar Newland Travel were the ones who made things possible, when everyone(!) else failed, even the agent we booked with MONTHS before...
So much for "WHo should we go with".

Secondly, the timing (what I did):
Torugart – Kashgar: 1/2 day ride
Kashgar: Leave the bike at Hotel & stay as many days as you like. You won't need to pay the guide as they're from Kashgar anyway. So: Make sure you get to see Sunday Market & Animal Market. And although I'd been "marketed-out" after 2 months in Central Asia... Kashgar's Animal Market is amazing!!!
Kashgar - Tashkorgan: 1 day ride. You might want to extend that into 2 days, so to stop/overnight at a few lakes. Check with your guide. but I think 1 day is enough.
Tashkorgan - Khunjerab Pass: 1/2 day

The other option would be to go through the Taklamakan desert. Check www DOT bybike2malaysia DOT com –*he's done that route.


Whatever you do –*seriously, get a good guide. And Newland Travel ARE good. You get what you pay for, and if the shit hits the fan you might be stuck outside china for a few weeks (like I was, just because I wanted to save some bucks and went with someone a tad cheaper).
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Old 9 Feb 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bjorn View Post
Whatever you do –*seriously, get a good guide. And Newland Travel ARE good. You get what you pay for, and if the shit hits the fan you might be stuck outside china for a few weeks (like I was, just because I wanted to save some bucks and went with someone a tad cheaper).
+1.

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Old 10 Feb 2010
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Well, being stuck outside China could be the lucky option, I met a guy in Kashgar who managed to come in, but didnt get permits to leave, so he was basically grounded in Kashgar because his agent couldnt get it sorted. So yeah, I can also vouch for Taher from Newland, he really knows what he is doing. He managed to bail me out of the military compound at Torugat after I entered without permit/guide/etc (I had tried, but due to the chinese cut of communications things were difficult, then there was a misunderstanding and ah well ...). And he managed to get all my permits sorted in 4 days!

Re: is it worth it? I think once you have decided that you will travel through China, you should do it as quick as possible. It's already expensive as it is, and the extra money can be spent on something better than a 4WD trailing behind your ass and slowing you down. As mentioned, you don't pay for the guide if you aren't moving, so take your time to look at Kashgar if you like. There isnt a lot to see, the old town, the (now very commercial) Sunday market (now happening every day), and a still very nice animal market (Sunday only afaik) which is definately worth a visit. So 2-3 days in Kashgar would be more than enough time to see everything, so long as one of the days is a Sunday. I haven't been to the Taklamakan desert, but you could also pretend to be a tourist for a day and share a minivan trip with other tourists for a day. Anyways, by cutting a day of China, that money could easily be spent on a mountain flight around Everest which is definately more spectacular.

And last but not least, consider where your money is going. I would rather spend a week in Buthan where it's equally expensive, but the money does the people good and protects the country, whereas in China ... don't even get me started.
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Old 10 Feb 2010
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One more thing: make sure to get offers for the Irkeshtam pass also. I'm not sure why everyone chooses Torugat ... I did so, because that's what everyone on the HUBB is talking about. Torugat is (still) a second class border that is not normally open to foreigners, and the road isnt exactly in mint condition shall we say, as well as being a military restricted area. Irkeshtam on the other hand is a first class border open to foreigners (still subject to guides for vehicles but only from the immigration onwards). According to Taher from Newland, there are less permits needed for Irkeshtam which should make it easier, faster and cheaper. So if you have no particular reason for choosing Torugat, or want to save money, then get a quote for the Irkeshtam pass too. The road is better there too, so I am told ...
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Old 18 Feb 2010
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+1. I also did Torugart because everyone here talks about it – but most non-bike overland travellers did Irkeshtam.

Another thing about Kashgar: I loved the chilled-outness & the food in that city. And it's cheap. So a good place to give yourself a break.
Once you're in Central Asia, the diet will be restricted to "laghman" and "kebab" I belive – unless you're self-catering & shop your own vegetables in the markets.

I agree with Sirakor about money for the Chinese... a lot of what you pay goes to the government. And that government isn't necessarily the most people-friendly in the world. I thought twice before I did China, exactly for that reason.
But it was the most efficient way to connect Central Asia into Southern Asia. (I didn't want to end up in Korea or Japan - I wanted to go into Pakistan/India/South-East Asia).
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