Goodbye Kashgar, and Sleeper Bus to Kuqa

After we’re done packing and checking out hostel, we ran into this barber across the road. The guy has been waving at us from afar every time we passed by, so Az said that he *must* get a trim on our last day here. The moment we entered and gave salam, the barber immediately pointed at the huge world map on his wall as if asking where we’re from. It’s so funny, this so-called introduction. And what’s more intresting, on the map (I’m not too sure if it’s Uyghur or Arabic written), it even has detail points for our little hometowns, Kota Bharu and Malacca! :)

Now please watch the barber in action.. yes, finally a video!

Az managed to pray Zuhur at the Id Kah mosque before we left, and surprisingly, we came across Elvis again, on our last day! (read here how he saved us on our very first day in Kashgar). We said goodbye to him and he wished us best in our journey ahead, and plus, asked to pray for him in finding a wife! (you may contact him if interested. Hint: he’s featured in Lonely Planet book :P) This is the restaurant near Id Kah mosque we haven’t been in, it doesn’t look the prettiest and cleanest restaurant from outside but we can see lots of people inside so I guess it must be quite special. We decided to give it a try.

What attracted us is the lamb meat are marinated with spice, unlike our regular lamb kebabs that are usually best grilled as it is (original flavor). And it turns out our last lamb kebab in Kashgar taste the most splendid! This salty-spiced lamb kebab is 3 yuan per stick, although you may have to wait longer than usual (thanks to queuing customers).

We arrived at the bus terminal 1 hour before departure and surprisingly met William buying ticket for his journey tomorrow (also for Kuqa!). He was the fellow traveler from hostel that asked our advice for Karakul Lake, which he was heading to the day after we had returned to Kashgar, and now he told us his version of Karakul Lake story: He missed to stop at Karakul becuase he was asleep on the bus, and ended up in Tashkurgan! He even clumsily forgot the name of the lake when he wanted to head back to Karakul by hitch-hiking. We then exchanged showing photos we had taken in Karakul, and our rest of plans.He’s heading to Kuqa tomorrow, and proceed to Urumqi then hopping into bordering Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgysztan etc). I so wish that we had that much time and money to travel there as well since we’re already near.. *sigh*

This is our sleeper bus for Kuqa! And notice that drivers’ name and photos displayed at the windscreen! The bus journey from Kashgar to Kuqa (700km) will take around 14 hours (!) and we got upper berth (157 yuan) and lower berth (172 yuan) each. One of the main reasons we want to stop in Kuqa, apart from dividing 24 hour train journey into half and choose to travel at night only, is because we want to ride this sleeper bus for the first and only time! Despite that we’re not expecting much what to see in Kuqa (LP book describes it as a “sleepy town”) and travelers who stops in Kuqa usually want to visit Kizil Thousand Buddha Cave, 70km away from Kuqa town – which we’re not going, so we’re thinking to only waste time walking around town and see the mosque, before continuing train ride to Turpan at night.

We put our big luggage inside the bus compartment underneath, and both our shoes are tied to them (Az suggested us to wear crocs only while traveling in bus to ease the possibly need to take off shoes). I didnt like the idea of leaving our shoes attached to luggage, so I took them to bring inside the bus, and I properly put them underneath my berth. (You have to take off shoes inside the bus). The bus beddings are rather comfortable, but the sheets don’t seem to be washed for a while =.= And get ready to endure the smell of socks throughout the journey!

The bus departed late than scheduled by one hour, which we instantly fell asleep after a while. We were apparently the only foreigners on board.

It was around 4am when the bus made a stop for supper and toilet break somewhere near the highway. I dont know where this place could be, but it was quiet and at this hour cold wind was blowing hard. Some passengers stayed in bus while others were probably sitting here having a cup of hot tea. And yes, that’s our bus driver having a cigarette break!

We wanted to find somewhere we could do jama prayer and so we stepped further to nearby restaurant. Only using body language, we managed to get the permission and the restaurant owner delightfully brought us to a corner near the kitchen inside which is supposed to be their prayer place, complete with prayer rug.

After we’re done, we’d like to thank them by ordering some food in their restaurant. It helped that they have big menu with pictures on the wall so we could simply choose what we’d like. This is lamb soup eaten with rock-hard bread, and when I gave a sign that the bread was too hard to bite, the restaurant owner gave the instruction how to properly eat this thing: you have to break the bread into smaller pieces INTO the soup, so they’ll get soft! They seem to be overwhelmed by our sudden appearance at this odd hour, and despite the language barrier, we felt so welcome by their friendliness and hospitality!

The bus continued the journey for a few more hours and when we woke up, it was already bright. It was around 10am when we arrived in Kuqa, and to our shock, the town was in a heavy haze.