We arrived in Samarkand after an uneventful but expensive night in Tashkent. We managed to find a hotel (actually our taxi driver took us to a different one than the one we wanted) and were able to negotiate the price from $40 to $15 for the night. We then went out exploring.
The main thing to see in Samarkand is the Registan. It is a collection of three Medrassas or Islamic schools that have been restored. The first was built in the 1400s and the other two in the 1600s.
We had a great day exploring around Kashgar. We saw the huge statue of Mao, sections of the old wall and old buildings. Of course we took plenty of good pictures however, I forgot to put the memory card in my camera so none of them were actually recorded.
We left Chengdu a day later than we had planned since we missed the train by 5 minutes the first time and had to reschedule the trip for the following day. The following 3 days and two nights involved a lot of sitting on a train bed and reading or sitting or sleeping or not a whole lot of doing anything. We eventually arrived in Urumqi which is the most landlocked city in the whole world which means is it is the farthest from any ocean. After we arrived we grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed to the bus station for Kashgar.
UPDATE!!! Photos for the last three posts have been fixed. Enjoy!
Chengdu is more of a transition city for us and there isn't really a whole lot here we were excited about doing except for going to the Panda Research and Conservation Park. This is where the majority of the captively bred pandas have been born in the world. So this morning we hopped on a bus and headed over to check it out.
This is a photo of Jing-Jing.
After overnighting in Chengdu, Stephen and I decided to go to Western Sichuan instead of Tibet. Western Sichuan is ethnically tibetan but open to tourism in a way that Tibet is not. We decided not to go to Lhasa since it is overly touristy and expensive. The decision proved to be a good one as the area we went to was beyond our expectations. Here is an account of our 6 days of travel there.
Taking the bus from Luang Phrabang in Laos to Kunming in China was definitely an experience. The bus ride was 40 hours long but was a sleeper bus which made it bearable. The four of us attempted the trip and were greeted the first night by northern Laos roads. By roads I mean a patch of potholed land that a good vehicle can probably pass over. Trying to sleep while passing over these roads was like playing football and sleeping at the same time, where you are the football. We were jostled left, then right, then up, then down constantly.
We arrived in Northern Thailand right across from the border with Laos after a suprisingly fast 18 hours of taxis and busses from Angkor Wat. We spent the night with some friends of some friends and had some really great discussions with them. The work they are doing is very exciting and it is amazing to see God working in this part of the world.