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“Old Road Tours Tour Company” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Taklamakan Desert

Taklamakan Desert
Talimu Basin Centre, 848000, China
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Owner description: Nicknamed the "sea of death," this desert along the Pakistan border is considered to one of the world's most hostile wastelands.
Urumqi, China
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3 reviews 3 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
“Old Road Tours Tour Company”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 24, 2013

A friend and I rented a car and driver from Old Road Tours Tour Company based in Kashgar. We started our journey from Urumqi taking the cross desert highway through the Taklamakan to Keriya, Hotan, Taxkorgan and Kashgar. It was spectacular... Our drivers were just great guys who wanted us to have a good time. We tried many different food experiences and the scenery was fabulous. If you are not used to Chinese hotels then the accommodation might seem a little minimalistic. However it is all pretty clean and tidy.

Visited June 2013
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Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • English first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
Singapore
Senior Contributor
35 reviews 35 reviews
6 attraction reviews
Reviews in 30 cities Reviews in 30 cities
43 helpful votes 43 helpful votes
“Crossing Taklamakan Desert”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 24, 2012

I was back recently from an organised cycling trip across the Taklamakan Desert. It was the first time Singaporeans participated in this event, cycling from Luntai (轮台) to Minfeng (民丰).

It wasn't an easy journey to begin with – six hours to reach Shanghai, waited for five to get the connecting flight, then another five to reach the famed Urumqi (Uyghur, translated as 优美的草原), top off with a 14-hour land journey to reach the desert’s fringe. It is dumbfounding to experience the vastness of this autonomous region in China, more than 2,200 times the land mass of Singapore. You just have to behold the magnitude of its enormity yourself – towering snow-capped mountain ranges, rolling grass plains, miles of industrial establishments, and more miles of empty spaces – words fail me.

Someone said there are places you can get to by road, and there are places you can only get to by being on the road. Never been in a desert before, the sight truly beckons. Landscapes from rows of 胡杨树 that gradually thins away into 骆驼刺 to nothing but featureless windswept sand dunes, it was a sight to behold.

We pitched tents in the desert for overnights. The air was chilly, the surrounding eerily silent, lit up only by the moon. There was this 滚滚黄沙, 清风冷月 feeling. We huddled together for dinner, then a merry session with Chinese barley beers and the ubiquitous 新疆白酒 while witnessing the Milky Way amidst the sea of stars. It was as stirring as it was surreal.

Cycling across the Taklamakan Desert Highway was all about endurance. Chills at daybreaks were replaced by desert heat once the sun turned on its boilers. Saddle sore started creeping in, arms began to ache, neck began to stiffen, and mind started to get lulled and whitewashed by the featureless backdrop surrounding us. The days were spent between freezing and thawing while reeling in the desert highway. With throttles opened, we were breathing in dust and sand. The sun continued its scorched-earth policy while we sweat dirt from every pore. We had sand in our mouths, sand in our hair, sand in every orifice, sand in my PnS camera sensor and sand in our riding shorts.

Tracing back from where we came from, we looked back in disbelief and couldn't imagine we did the almost 400km of riding. Like all adventures, it began at a crossroad in life, and being exposed on the barren roads in such raw vulnerability is deliberate; one that transcends common logic and reasoning. But it turned out to be our most sublime and soaring experience. Indeed, it is a milestone etched in our lives, one which we can always revisit with delight.

Understood that this would remain as an obscure review in Trip Advisor. But to those who has this dream of cycling in foreign (and maybe forbidden lands), do drop me a mail!

Visited October 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 18
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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