A month in Xinijang
Xinjiang, in Western China, often gets labelled in one of two ways: mysterious, Ancient Silk Road destination or troubled and difficult region. The reality probably falls somewhere in the middle. Uighur culture still dominates here, from architecture to food and much in between, creating an area of China that's entirely unlike anywhere else in the country.
Wetlands in Tashkurgan, Xinjiang, China
The Golden Grasslands, a marshy landscape in Tashkurgan.

During a month in the region we traversed the more well-known cities of Urumqi, Turpan and Kashgar, the vast, barren Taklamakan Desert and the alpine lakes of Tashkurgan. The region borders eight different countries and as such, is of strategic importance to China as a whole. It can be a challenging area to visit, as we talked about in another post, but it’s simultaneously fascinating.

Sand dunes in the Taklamakan Desert in Xinjiang, China.
The Taklamakan Desert sits in the south west of Xinjiang and covers an area of 337,000 km². The desert's unforgiving environment has earned it the name the 'Sea of Death'.
A yak stands at the shore of a lake.
A yak stands on the shores of Karakul Lake, along the Karakoram Highway.
View of the old town in Kashgar, Xinjiang.
The only remaining section of Kashgar's Old City was off limits to visitors when we visited, but for some locals these crumbling walls are still where they call home.
Freshly slaughtered lamb hangs for sale at a market in Kashgar.
Freshly slaughtered lamb hangs for sale at the weekly livestock market in Kashgar.
A man pulls a calf by a rope at a livestock market in Kashgar, Xinjiang.
A man tries to control his calf at the animal market. On Sundays people come from all over the surrounding area to buy and sell livestock in Kashgar.
Vendors cook meat stews over book burning stoves in Kashgar.
Vendors cook meat stews over wood burning stoves in Kashgar.
A woman on a scooter rides down a dusty alleyway in Kashgar Old City.
One of the few remaining parts of Kashgar's Old City, much of which is in a state of disrepair.
A row of fat-tailed sheep at a Kashgar livestock market.
Kashgar's famous fat-tailed sheep line up to be sold at the livestock market.
A man makes laghman noodles at a market.
A man makes laghman noodles at the market. These thick, wheat noodles are served across the region, topped with a rich sauce.
Three boys playing on the streets of Kashgar
Uighur boys play on the streets of central Kashgar.
White plants in Xinjiang, China
Goats locking horns in Kashgar, Xinjiang
A woman sorts sheeps wool in Xinjiang, China
The skyline of Urumqi, Xinjiang.
Urumqi is the capital of Xinijiang and probably the most developed part of the region.
A Tajik man walks past a doorway in Tashkurgan, Xinjiang.
Tashkurgan is located in the south of Xinjiang, close to the border with Pakistan. Locals here are predominantly Chinese Tajiks.
A food stall holder in Xinjiang, China, wearing a police flak jacket.
Stall holders and shop workers wearing police flak jackets and safety helmets are a common sight across Xinjiang.
A red tractor in front of mountains in Xinijiang, China
A village along the Karakoram Highway, the landscape is full of jagged mountains.
A yak in front of the sunrise in Tashkurgan, Xinjiang.
A lone yak roams the streets of Tashkurgan at sunrise.
A woman sells roasted lamb at a stall in central Hotan.
A woman sells roasted lamb at a stall in Hotan.
A hotpot cooking at a market in Hotan. The city was full of security check-points and police during our visit.
A man holding metal rods takes roasted lamb joints out of a fire pit.
A man removes roasted lamb joints from fire pits in Hotan.
A woman sells eggs to customers in Hotan, Xinjiang.
A vendor and customers stand on a deserted street in Hotan.
Bags of Uighur flat bread stacked up in Hotan, Xinjiang.
Stacks of Uighur flat bread line a room in Hotan. These bread discs are baked in abundance across the region.
Men stand in a smoky room, prepping chickens to be roasted in Hotan, Xinijang.
Chickens being prepped for roasting in a smoky room in Hotan.
Oysters and scallops in shells, cooking on a grill in Hotan, Xinjiang
Trays of meat skewers in Hotan, Xinjiang
Orange berries on a bush in Xinjiang, China.
A palace column in Yarkand, Xinjiang
A restored palace complex in the old town area of Yarkand.
Sunrise over a tomb in Tashkurgan, Xinjiang.
The sun rising over a tomb in Tashkurgan.
Camels at a market in Kashgar
Camels on display at the Kashgar livestock market.
Men and sheep in a village on the Karakoram Highway
Shepherds driving their animals home, somewhere along the Karakoram Highway.
A man paying for livestock at a market in Kashgar.
Men making a deal at the Kashgar livestock market.
A lake along the Karakoram Highway in western Xinjiang.
A lake along the Karakoram Highway in Western Xinjiang.
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