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On the Highest Highway in the World

From Kashgar, Opal Village, Oytagh Mountain, and beyond.

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View A Thread of Silk on automidori's travel map.

Karakoram Highway, August 21st 2012

Quoting from Wikipedia:
"The Karakoram Highway, also known as the Friendship Highway in China, was built by the governments of Pakistan and China, it was started in 1959 and was completed in 1979 (open to the public since 1986) about 810 Pakistanis and about 200 Chinese workers lost their lives, mostly in landslides and falls, while building the highway. The route of the KKH traces one of the many paths of the ancient Silk Road."

This is the map of KKH which is also on Wikipedia. Through this highway I traced the Silk Road up to Tashkorgan with Xinjiang Travel. We left from Kashgar and made first stop in Opal Village as told in previous post. 'Opal' is also called 'Upal' as written on this map. "The names comes from the Sanskrit: upál-, which means "a noble stone", sharing an Indo-European root to the Greek opallios (ὀπάλλιος), from which the English word opal is derived." explains Wikipedia.

So are there really opals in Opal? Well, further later near Bulung Kul, there were many stone vendors. However, my guide reminded us to be careful, because they were fake. Maybe if I had been in Opal Village on a Monday, I might see the real opals in the Monday market. Or maybe if I had explored the village further. Anyhow, there's no regret for me as I'm not into jeweleries. Unless I can see -- and photograph -- the process of the making, I won't be interested. Every time I see a jewelry, what comes to mind is "how much further can I travel with that money?"

From Opal Village we moved on KKH and Oytagh Mountain came in sight. Sadly, the sky wasn't on my side, yet.K014aresized.jpg
Thick fog blocked my view.

Do you see that road down there? That's Karakoram Highway, the highest international highway in the world which connects China and Pakistan. Due to its high elevation and the difficult conditions in which it was constructed, it is also referred to as the "Eighth Wonder of the World. as you might have already read in the link above.

I call this daunting beauty.

That stream next to me is melted snow that runs only in summer. Please note that KKH is closed in winter due to heavy snow.

Oytagh Mountain is famous for her reddish layered color.

Back on the car, higher we go.

Now, do you see that thin long stream of water? Occasionally, those streams of water broke through our path along KKH...

... from here.

As we ascended higher, the sky turned bluer...

... and we became closer to year-long snow-capped mountain peaks, the Pamirs.

Posted by automidori 10:37 Archived in China Tagged china xinjiang karakoram_highway

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