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Driving on from Karakul Lake, crossing yet another checkpoint, we entered the Tajik Autonomous County and soon arrived in Taxkorgan.

Taxkorgan has an interesting feel with its tree lined main street, finished at each end with towering, snow covered mountains. The faces of the people intriguing, and some look strangely familiar/European even. The Tajiks here live side by side with Uyghurs, Kyrgyz and Han Chinese, but retain their traditions and if you are lucky you might see a married woman wearing her embroidered cotton-padded hat with a white square towel tied on top.

On this occasion Taxkorgan was quite and seemed subdued when we arrived. Our first stop was the enigmatic ancient stone city with stunning views of the lush, yurt-studded valley stretching out below.

Our thoughts then turned to food and it was fun trying to explain to the Tajik waitress in the restaurant what we wanted and that one of us was a vegetarian – a what? Luckily I had some phrases on paper which the waitresses studied carefully to try and help us order – much to the amusement of the locals sitting around us.

After eating, a few of us ventured into town to explore. At one point we came across a street full of pool tables covered with tarpaulin and rocks to hold the covering down. Stalls for market? No, apparently pool is a big deal in Taxkorgan.

The backdrop to the Taxkorgan streets is stunning – surrounded by the towering, snow covered peaks of the Pamir and Karakorum mountains. As we came to the central roundabout we noticed that there were large lighting rigs arranged around it - perhaps for a parade. Curiously, one was laid across a pavement, smashed.

Was it an accident or the aftermath of something more sinister?

Part 3 - Kyrgyz Bazaar

See China - Karakul Lake

Karakul Lake, Xinjiang Waitresses in Taxkorgan Ancient stone city, Taxkorgan Tajik women with traditional hat Snow covered mountains

Location: Karakul Lake, Xinjiang, China

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Retrospective Traveller - the travel memories and other traveller tales of @retrotraveller. Mainly ‘after the event’ – a retrospective look back at journeys past. You’ll find short stories, thoughts, travel experiences (some sanitised) and plenty of travel photography too... you can also find more photography on Flickr -