Where to eat in Kashgar

It's the most popular place in town, the food is delicious, and we'd highly recommend eating there, if only we could remember its name.

Where to stay in Kashgar

The middle of winter is the lowest of the low seasons in Xinjiang province. We hear that the city is full of tourists in the summer, but we didn't see any in February. Many of the hotels and tourist offices were closed when we arrived, but the Seman Hotel, in all its resplendent glory, was open. The decor is fitting of this former Russian consulate. We felt like Anna and Vronsky, only without all the death and tragedy.

The etiquette of travel

In case anyone forgets to bring their manners with them to China, the municipal government has decided to remind everybody.


With limited time and vast distances to cover, we knew that we would not be able to only travel overland, as we had originally intended. We decided to fly out to Kashgar,Xinjiang, and make our way back to Kunming from there. A hastily-purchased but far-from-direct flight from Lijiang, with overnight stops in Chengdu then Urumqi, had us in Kashgar in fifty short hours.

Xinjiang has long been on our list of must-see destinations. Both of us were drawn to see that province's huge mountains and deserts and to explore some of the old Silk Road sites. One of us is far more cultured than the other, and wanted to understand first-hand how the people of Xinjiang, with culture and religion unique from the rest of China, are able to reconcile their traditions with those of their new Chinese landlords. I wanted to go and eat mutton and flatbread. Neither of us was disappointed.

Kashgar's bazaar was noisy and bustling, with items on offer ranging from used boots to fur hats to livestock to food of highly dubious origin. We had read that at any time, one could expect to hear over fifty languages or dialects being spoken in the market. Sounds about right.


A two hour walk down a quiet highway from Lijiang took us to the village of Baisha, which lies in the shadow of the 5596m Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Not much to do there besides enjoy a pleasant lunch, shop for some Naxi handicrafts, and breathe some very fresh mountain air.

Around town

Lijiang is the traditional home of the Naxi people, who evidently loved waterways, narrow cobblestoned roads, raptors, and picturesque rooftops.

Another old city

You know you have a rightful claim to being an "ancient city" when a great Tatar warlord stopped by the local watering hole for some frosty milk of Paradise.

With gratitude

The yak gives us much...aforementioned sticks of grilled flesh, hours of toil humping loads up mountain trails, and bottles of creamy yogurty deliciousness. Thank you, yak, for all that you do.


Tourists, like us, flock to Lijiang for a few reasons: to walk around the old town, a UNESCO World Heritage site; for the spectacular view of YuLongXueShan [Jade Dragon Snow Mountain] from Black Dragon Pool; and to eat yak meat kebabs.

One-speed pace

We rented bikes in Dali to go for a ride around Erhai [Ear-shaped] Lake. The villages down by the river made for a very tranquil day of cycling. The lake itself is huge, with a surface area of over 250 sq.km, and we did not much more than 25km out and back. The pace was leisurely, the lake was clean, the air was fresh, and the people smiled warmly…a very pleasant way to spend the day.


The Old City

We had both read and heard that Dali has a laid-back feeling, often enticing travelers into staying a day or two longer than they had originally planned. True, all true. With the Cangshan Range as a backdrop, and the massive Erhai Lake a ten-minute downhill bike ride away, the old walled city has much charm.


Saying goodbye to Kunming after a month of classes, we headed north on Yunnan’s touristy trail. First stop, Dali.

The town is well-equipped to handle the glut of tourists it gets, but has done so without altering most of the historical buildings and streets. Most of the streets are still cobble-stoned, and the main shopping area is pedestrian-only. Some of the restaurants we went into were not much bigger than most OOFALWO readers’ dining rooms, with one or two items on the menu. Our first night, we had a few plates of delicious dumplings after watching the friendly proprietor roll them out to order.

Because of its location on the established Kunming-Dali-Lijiang-Shangri La trail, Dali has the obligatory “Western breakfast” joints, reggae bar, and sidewalk cafes. While we usually went with local fare, we will admit to wiling away a few hours on Foreigner Street, people-watching and downing a frosty beverage or two in the late afternoon.