And in fact, throughout history many nations, particularly China, have fought for control of Kashgar and its environs. Although this remote city is closer to either Moscow or New Delhi than to Beijing its location is strategic, for the city sits at the foot of the enormous Pamir Mountains. Kashgar traders and warriors staggered across them and then tackled the treacherous Taklamakan Desert, following the Silk Road highway from China into Central Asia, India and Persia.
“This desert oasis town connected Rome and China over two thousand years ago,” I mused on the second day as I made my own desert crossing in a bumpy bus to neighboring Hotan, a city famous for rugs and jade.
The eight-hour journey dehydrated and exhausted me. “How did they do this on camels and ponies?” I grimly wondered, trying not to stare as a haggard old grannie across the aisle retched loudly into a flimsy plastic bag.
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