Sary Tash

The Irkeshtam pass is, they say, the easy border crossing between Kyrgyzstan (Osh – Sary Tash) and China (Kashgar), and really, it’s not that easy (the landscape is spectacular though). We had come along this road in 2012 but stayed at the better Lenin Base Camp (not really possible on this trip with overall time constraints)

We left Kashgar in order to get to the Chinese border "formality clearance" building when it opened. This building is 143km short of the actual border. So having had our papers checked, we drove to the border itself, which took around 2 hours, given the mountain roads - only to find that the border was "closed for lunch". The tale gets a bit tangled here, but the Chinese are on Beijing time (not Kashgar time) and have different lunch break to the Kyrgyzs. The net result is that we coul not cross into Kyrgyzstan between 11.30 and 2.30. The place you stop is really a god forsaken spot, there is nothing there except a run down cafe. You just have to grin and bear the wait.. Eventually both sides, having presumably dined in style, get back to work and reopen the road and we go through. The Kyrgrz processed us much more quickly and we headed off with a new Kyrgyz guide

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First up was a (very late) picnic lunch. As I was suffering from a combination of runny tummy and altitude sickness, lunch passed me by somewhat. And then it was not much more than an hour to Sary Tash

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Really no travellers want to stay at Sary Tash, but the logistics and time required to cross the border mean either you have to drive into the night to get to Osh, or settle on an overnight at Sary Tash. Our accommodation, billed as a "homestay" , described in the Wild Frontiers literature as "a cosy house", somewhat over-egged the place.

The "home stay" was in a substantial house, which was built, oddly, without a toilet nor a bathroom. The toilets were two long drops at the end of the garden (to be fair they had been newly painted and disinfected, and could have been a lot worse). And washing was done in an outdoor sink - bracing in these temperatures.

Dinner was served in a yurt that they have erected to deal with their clientele, which therefore must be fairly regular. The dinner was surprisingly good, and the yurt was warmed by a wood burning stove

Our bedroom, you can see from the photo, was one of the family rooms from where the family member had been evicted for the night.

Sary Tash is a god forsaken remote spot with a petrol station and a shop in a portacabin, which seemed to sell mainly vodka, which suited our group fine. Chris and I had a walk round the village before breakfast the next morning, and there were lovely views of the distant mountains. I don't think I would have like to have spent a week in Sary Tash

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So after breakfast, it was back in the buses and on to Osh

On to next town- Osh

Back to Overall Itinerary for Silk Road Trip 2016