The Modern Silk Road, Xinjiang


The journey to Kashgar or Kashi is long and tiring despite the newly tarred highway all the way from Urumqi. Travelling more them 500km a day, we have to make 2 overnight stops along the way before reaching Kashgar. I can imagine how adventurous and tiring it was for traders in the olden days travelling this famed Silk Road that link Europe and Central Asia to China bringing with them exotic goods and spices. Even till today we can still see glimpse of the past in some of the ruins and old towns. But these are slowly being over shadowed by the new cities that mushroom almost overnight fueled by the oil rich economy of Xinjiang.


There is both good and bad sides to this as tourists can now travel in comfort and enjoy modern amenities. Despite the distant as Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is a very big state tourists can now easily visit places that were once too remote without proper road. On my first trip about 10 years ago the smaller towns has only dirt road but during this visit I could hardly recognised Korla. The 5-star Garden Hotel we stayed is a 20-story building located on the bank of Kongque River with a good view of the city skyline. Xinjiang_DSC1292b Xinjiang_DSC1366b Xinjiang_DSC1569bXInjiang_DSC0258 XInjiang_DSC0780b Xinjiang_DSC1217bXInjiang_DSC0253wpKnowing that we will spend more than 8 hours on the road each day I know we will not be able to plan our photo shoot. We can forget about the early morning and golden hours. Spending so many hours coped up inside the coach we wish that we could stop whenever we passed some nice scenery but unfortunately we have to shoot through the windows. Right at the back of the coach where our group was sitting we shared 2 tiny windows that can be open slightly to squeeze our lenses out. Framing your composition is almost impossible in the moving coach. I had to pre-meter the scene to make sure I have at least 1/500s or more to ensure it will be reasonable sharp and shoot at continuous frames. For the visit to the Wensu Grand Canyon the 20 of us have to ride on a truck going deep into the canyon.  I had to shoot with one hand holding on the side of the truck to steady myself.Xinjiang_DSC0758 xinjiang_DSC0607 XInjiang_DSC0275

The highlight of Kashgar visit is the livestock market where they sell goats, sheep, cows and the occasional donkey, horse and camel too. Apart from this there are also interesting food stalls where you can get from freshly slaughter meats to cooked dishes. The people here are friendly and do not mind to have their picture taken but unfortunately we have barely an hour here. I had to move quickly and managed to capture only a few scenes as the market is packed with people and animals. And off course there are also the 3 buses of us people too.

As this is not a full photography trip but a Xinjiang FAM trip organized by the Xinjiang Tourism I choose to bring only a Nikon D800E with the Tamron SP 24-70mm and SP 70-200 mm lenses with the Fuji X-pro 1 as backup. The Nikon and Tamron combination works great as I don’t get burden with heavy gears and still get good quality pictures.

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