Silk Road
14 Images

Motorcycle tour of China’s Silk Road

Silk Road
A group of U.S. and European motorcyclists churn along on a dirt byway in remote western China during a tour of attractions along the region’s historic Silk Road. An Austrian firm offers the tour only in the fall and the spring, in deference to its physical challenges -- changes in elevations from sea level to 13,400 feet or more, and in temperature from zero to 120 degrees. (Claude Pauly)
Silk Road
A rockslide halts the cyclists on the Karakoram Highway between Kashgar and Tashkurgan in Xinjiang province, and a wait of almost two hours ensues. Xinjiang, the country’s largest province but among its least populated, pushes up against the borders of Pakistan, Kashmir, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan in China’s northwestern corner. (Claude Pauly)
Silk Road
Men socialize on a Sunday in the center of Kashgar, the tour’s starting point. Times motorcycle reviewer Susan Carpenter, one of the riders on the 11-day, 1,700-mile tour, found predominantly Muslim Kashgar to be rundown yet exotic. It’s more than 2,000 miles from Beijing. (Claude Pauly)
Silk Road
Hagglers are welcome at a bazaar in Kashgar, where those inclined to bargain might pick up, say, a pashmina scarf for $2. The tour group’s sole rest day occurred in Kashgar, which Carpenter earlier had reached after taking three flights over a 36-hour period. (Claude Pauly)
Silk Road
An Uygur woman, member of an Uzbek ethnic group that has its own dialect, shares a piece of melon with her child in Kashgar. (Claude Pauly)
Silk Road
The centuries-old Emin Minaret overlooks a mosque not far from sweltering Turpan, a city lying slightly below sea level. The temperature was 104 degrees when the motorcyclists reached Turpan at 5 p.m. on a day in May. (Claude Pauly)
Silk Road
Ruins dot a parched landscape at Jiaohe, which, several hundred years ago, was home to about 5,000 Buddhists. The site also is near Turpan, which is in a grape-growing area; last May, The Times’ Carpenter noticed thick, green vineyards, never mind the area’s heat. (Claude Pauly)
Silk Road
A visitor studies paintings at a museum at the base of the Flaming Mountains, another Turpan-area landmark. (Claude Pauly)
Silk Road
Shops selling food, beverages and other items await customers near a military checkpoint on the Karakoram Highway, which leads to the border with Pakistan. (Claude Pauly)
Silk Road
A boy tends to a floppy-eared charge at the Sunday Market in Kashgar, where thousands of animals, especially lambs and donkeys, are sold. (Claude Pauly)
Silk Road
While the motorcyclists moved around China on two wheels, they saw many vehicles that relied on four legs -- those of donkeys or horses. The Times’ Carpenter describes sharing one thoroughfare with soot-spewing big rigs and clip-clopping carts loaded with sheep, and another clotted with motorcycles, pedestrians, bicyclists, taxis and more carts. (Claude Pauly)
Silk Road
The Bezeklik Buddhist caves, dug into a cliff some miles east of Turpan. (Claude Pauly)
Silk Road
The motorcyclists eagerly await the clearing of the highway between Kashgar and Tashkurgan after a rockslide. (Claude Pauly)
Silk Road
A modern paved highway in these Western visitors’ route through rocky terrain in Xinjiang. They’re on a tour offered through Edelweiss Bike Travel, an Austrian motorcycle adventure outfit. (Claude Pauly)
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