Our Trip to XinJiang: Part 5 of Many 14

Day 5:
We got up in Aksu (阿克蘇地區) and went on our way to Kashgar (喀什).  This day was mostly a travel day as we needed to cover 467 kilometers, which according to Google will take just over 10 hours.  We stopped over at a small town for lunch, and had other short gas and bio breaks. Other than that, we were pretty much on the road the entire day.  We did manage to stop for more road side shots mid drive though, how could we resist?  Look at those mountains!

Once we got to Kashgar, we were debating where to go eat.  Siu Bo said there was a restaurant where they would perform local folk dances while we ate and thought that was something we should experience.  However, when we asked whether the food there was any good, he frowned and basically said it was "doable".  As we were debating whether watching this dance was worth our giving up good food, Siu Bo parked the car out front and said the performance is about to start, and we can always go in, take a walk around like we're looking for something, watch the dance for a bit and then come back out!  So that's what we did.  We went inside admiring the decor, and wandered around the restaurant.  To our dismay, there was no performance that night, so we left and went on our way.

Outside the restaurant with the folk dancing.

We ended up going to Little Sheep (肥羊) Mongolian Hot Pot restaurant for dinner!  We picked this place because it's become an international chain with locations in Hong Kong, Japan, Canada and the U.S.  We've been to the store in Toronto, so we really wanted to try the one in XinJiang since their lamb would be that much fresher and authentic.  And they didn't disappoint us!  At the doorway, they were already promoting fresh, organic lamb, which we wouldn't get back home and instead of the the all you can eat style in North America, we actually had to order off the menu.  The menu showcased different dishes indicating which cut of the lamb we're ordering (something else we didn't have back home), and whether it'll be thin or thick sliced.  They also served ice cold beer! Woot!  Needless to say, we had a blast.

Morning of Day 6:
We woke up early the next day and headed out to Shipton's Arc (天門) as the sun was coming up.  It was about 45 minutes outside of Kashgar and we had to drive off road through some farmers fields to get to the bottom of the trail.  The trip there was really pretty, especially during dawn.

We had Siu Bo stop the car to get some pictures of this herd of sheep we passed by.  There was a dog by the house barking at us the whole time we were taking photos, and you can see another dog at the top of the hill. (Left)

The road ahead we have to drive through.

We spotted two (wild?) camels in the distance.

A farmer's house

From the foot of the mountain, it took us about an hour to get up to the top of Shipton's Arc.  There was actually a sign that warned us at the base, of the dangers going up.  It proved to be an interesting hike.  There were twisty narrow paths, icy terrain, rusty metal steps and a wooden ladder bridge!  Siu Bo came up the mountain with us as he's never been up to the top either, and also to make sure we would be safe.

Top Left: Kel on a twisty narrow path.
Top Right: Annie and Kel climbing up some narrow rusty steps as Siu Bo waited at the top to lend her a hand.
Bottom: One of the half frozen rusty steps we had to climb.

Left: Flora and Annie passed through a wooden ladder laid horizontal as a bridge across a gap in the rock formation.
Right: The steep icy path up.

We finally caught sight of the "mother of all holes" as the Aussies put it.

Kel being Kel.. what else can I say? LoL :)

Looking down at the snowy path we came with Kel behind me.

Flora and Annie on the way up.

Look at how steep the path was!

The arc at the top! Mother of all holes! You can see the mountains in the distance through the hole.  And no, we couldn't look down the other side unless we leaned down, which we didn't really want to do..

When we got to the top, all there was to prevent us from falling off the other side was a flimsy chain joined by short metal posts.  The link at the end was broken off the last post almost like someone fell over the edge!  Annie and I didn't venture that far out as we were both afraid of the altitude we were at.  Only Kel and Flora kept going.  The view at the top was extraordinary.  Much more than we could capture especially with the size of the arc and the limited places we could position ourselves.

Kel and Flora at a distance, hiking further up the slippery slope, while I sat by the broken link fence.

The view of the arc at the top. (Photo courtesy of Flora.)

Pics of Kel and I at the top, courtesy of Flora!

As we were leaving, we spotted some (wild?) horses in the distance.

We saw a herd of baby lambs, too!  We saw this one fall off a small slope and made many attempts to scramble back up.  So cute!

Day 6 to be continued!

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