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  The Chatter Box : Travel
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Re: China by saraphine8 on 17 January 2005 2:29am
Has anyone been to Urumqi? I was thinking of going there after Beijing and then trying to get to Ladak somehow (in order to spend some time in the himilayas)...does anyone know if thats possible, or of a better route to take to get to himalaya without visiting Tibet?
Re: China by Godfather on 17 January 2005 4:01pm

Personally,i find Urumqi pretty dull. It's been heavily "practicalized" in that Chinese way. Reminds me of Bristol city centre at times. Grimy tower blocks and not exactly inspiring.

But Urumqi is a hub for going to the more interesting regions in Xinjiang. But you cannot cross into India (Ladakh region) direct from China i'm afraid. Everybody would like to. But for years it's not been allowed. They've kept the borders sealed.

Your best bet to get to 'India' from Urumqi, is to carry on west through the Karakorum highway (which is stunning) into Pakistan and the Khunjerab pass. Because at Urumqi you're not that far away from the border. Down into Pakistan, hugging the eastern edge will bring you either to Lahore or Islamabad.

From there, cross the Wagah/Attari border (shown on Michael's recent series) over to Amritsar (Golden Temple). If you wanted to go straight up to Ladakh, you'd probably head to Chandigarh next because it's a hub for the Punjab region. From there you should be able to get transport up to Jammu and Kashmir and onto Ladakh.

I've done the road from Srinigar to Leh but that was a few years ago. You may have to enquire if it's still safe to do now. Plus, access by that route is only open for certain months of the year (same with the Karakorum and Khubjerab pass) due to ice and snow. But if you can,do it because it's a fascinating way to enter Ladakh. You acclimatize slowly and you see the terrain slowly change from green valley and passes to barren beige rolling mountains and snow peaks. Plus you see many monasterys on the way, such as Lamayuru perched on cliffs.

As you can see. That detour is quite an extensive trip in itself. But that's fine if you have the time to spare. Because all those places along the way are truly stunning anyway.

If you 'dont' have time, you could consider flying to Kathmandu from China,and then cross by land into India. And then up to Ladakh. In some months of the year,flying up to Ladakh will be your only option anyway due to all the passes being frozen and blocked. But at that time, Ladakh goes into a kind of hibernation anyway. Much will be closed down, and food is scarce outside of the family.

If you have to fly, you may find that oddly enough flying from Beijing to say Kathmanu may be cheaper than doing it from Urumqi because it's a fairly remote city. You'll need to do some enquiries regarding that beforehand.

Btw. Regarding visas. You will have to get your Pakistani visa in Beijing if you want to cross through the Karakorum. You cannot get it at the border anymore. You'll be sent back to Beijing. And that is a loooooong way. The Nepalese visa can be obtained at arrival at the airport or at land border. In Nepal you can get your Indian visa in Kathmandu usually,but it's sometimes open to change. You can get an Indian visa in Pakistan too. But your best bet is to get both your Indian and Pakistan visas in Beijing.


Re: China by saraphine8 on 28 January 2005 11:21pm
hi godfather,
thankyou for that info, very insightful. I think if I can afford to go the long way I'd much rather see all those new amazing places you've talked about. The only thing that worries me a little is that I'm a young girl travelling by myself. Do you think I would get more hassle in those regions?
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