Kashgar Old Town Youth Hostel

Old Town Youth Hostel entrance

Kashgar Old Town Youth Hostel, Wusitangboyi Road, Kashgar (300 meters from Id Kah Mosque)
Website: http://www.pamirinn.com
Dorm: 35 RMB per person, Private double room: 80-90 RMB per room. All rooms are without bathroom. Common bathrooms are shared but reliable (clean, hot shower, separate toilet).
Facilities: Free WIFI, PC in public area in case you dont bring laptop/tablet – free for 1st hour usage. Free hot water for drinking. Washing machine 10 Yuan per use, iPad rental 15 Yuan per hour. They also provide air and train tickets booking service. Tours to Karakul Lake and other places can be arranged.

The hostel entrance doesn’t look very impressive when we arrive. From outside it looks almost like an abandoned old building, needless to say with a small sand hill right in front of the door makes it even uglier. They’re apparently doing some renovation inside, so yeah.

old Uyghur mansion corridor

I read that this building was once a traditional Uyghur mansion before being turned into a hostel. It has plenty of rooms and bathrooms, renovated in such a way to become some large dorm rooms (with bunk beds) and a few private room with twin beds. None of them are really fancy, but for a price of a hostel, you just get what you pay. At this point of time, there are some travelers staying, but not crowded.

dorm room

Our first night in the hostel was in the dorm room as all private rooms are occupied. But luckily they have been nice enough to arrange us to stay in an empty room so we practically have the whole room by ourselves at that night without sharing with others. Not planning yet for other nights as tomorrow we’ll be heading to Karakul Lake and Tashkurgan for a night or two. We are given clean bed sheet and blanket cover (yes, you have to make the bed on your own!).

deco of wooden door colorful painted glass

Some distinctive feature of an old Uyghur house in Kashgar – nice door deco! The old mirrors were painted in colorful to give a new life to their look.

The hostel also offers tour to Karakul Lake with permit with a little cheaper price than quoted by agent in Eden. Feeling this might has to be our last option, we ask the hostel manager if we can share the tour with other travelers. We passed by a European couple and I promptly asked if they have visited Karakul Lake, and when they said they havent, I asked if they wanted to go with us and share the tour. I was surprised when the girl says “We want to go buy bus”.. and I ask “Do you have permit?”.. “No, we dont need permit”.. “Are you sure?”.. “Yes, there was another traveler who’s been there recently and he didnt need permit”.

They however are planning to go there later next week. So nevermind, we can go by our own by bus too. Now I just have to jump in excitement. WE’RE GOING TO KARAKUL LAKE BY BUS WITHOUT PERMIT!! XD

How could that be? All this time, we have come to believe that we need that bloody permit and were having hard time finding a (cheap) way to get a hand of it, thanks to a number of sources on internet claiming so! Still in a slight doubt, we decide to go to police station nearby to ask for confirmation when we go out walking later.

Common area

Dowstairs, they have this common area with tables for travelers having breakfast, tea, etc together while exchanging chats and travel stories. When entering the main entrance, you probably will see this open area first, most probably with a sight of a few foreign travelers hanging out having a drink or checking their laptops, and probably it’s the first place you’ll greet anyone there and introduce yourselves :)

stairway hot water supply

One of few staircase to upstairs, but this one is connecting from the yard. They’re having renovation in the hostel yard, so it was a little messy at this time with sands and unfixed holes. You’ll be required to walk up the stair as quietly as you can. They also provide hot water which is again useful for us to prepare our Nescafe and Milo. Some canned and bottled drinks are available for sale from a fridge next to it.

management office  private room

When we’re away to Karakul Lake, we’re sllowed to check out the room first, get our big luggage packed and they will keep them safe in the management office which we will collect them later upon returning. After coming back from Karakul Lake, we manage to get the private room for 80 yuan, although it’s even less attractive than dorm room, it’s just good enough for us to sleep in our own room without sharing with others.

Managers of Youth Hostel Kashgar

The Hostel is run by a nice Chinese couple, they’re very helpful when you need anything in Kashgar. When we want to change our train ticket, we just write down a note and ask them to write the Chinese translation for us to show at the railway counter. The self-drawn Kashgar city map given by them has been very helpful (combined with a full Kashgar map we collect in Eden). Everything you need to know will be informed right at the moment you check-in: which bus to go which place, places to see, which roads to follow. Thinking about it again, it’s actually our first experience staying in a hostel and all I can say it’s not that bad! Recommended for budget travelers and if you dont want to get stuck by your own in this non-English speaking city.

Eden Hotel, Kashgar

Eden Hotel
No.148 Seman Rd, Kashgar. 15 minutes walk to Id Kah mosque (if you dont stop looking at shops etc)
Website: http://www.xjeden.com/index.php
Double room (Apr 2012): 190 RMB
Comments: Okay and good, only the staff cannot speak English and arent too friendly. No warm/drinking water available during breakfast (only hot water).

We forgot to take photo of the building, but here’s the hotel pamphlet with one.

The hotel at first seems a little expensive for travelers on budget, but however, when you happen to have been traveling by trains for 3 days and havent had shower since, this hotel is the best you could ask for. We are in need of shower SO DAMN SERISOULY! And comfy large bed. Although, no offense to Qini Bagh (which was our option earlier), but Eden Hotel happens to be better if you want to taste a mid-range hotel, Uyghur style. It’s also a relatively new compared to other hotels in the guidebook, at least it looks so. In the ground floor, there’s an Uyghur-Turkish restaurant which we planned to dine once later, only it turns out we didnt have time to come back after checking-out Eden after a night stay (to move to cheaper Old Town Youth Hostel).

 

The receptionists are Uyghur, who hardly speak English (but workable if you only need to know/ask about price, time to check out etc). There should be a tour agent stationed near the hotel lobby, who can speak English. He seems to be regularly called by the receptionists when they’re in need of translation when communicating to foreign customers. The tour agent, whom we asked about tour for Karakul Lake, would charge anywhere around 1000 yuan (which I believe all tour agents in Kashgar would charge, so no issues there). He wouldnt push you either, so we dont have problem even if we want to think longer and find alternative way, say, I still believe we can go by ourselves by bus without permit.

The room is quite spacious and ours facing the road. We get to handwash some of our clothes changed in trains, and it’s convenient to hang them near the window (so can get direct sun heat). That night we had the best sleep ever since few days, and we still couldnt believe we finally arrive in Kashgar :) The hotel check-out time is 1400 Beijing time, so around 12 Xinjiang time.

 

The next day, we’re given buffet breakfast with food we had never seen before (except boiled eggs). Lots of variety of vegetable and salads (which taste sour like pickles), cakes, chicken etc. The taste is exotic, good if you love to trying strange, new food. Although, they dont serve plain drinking water. The staff would bring you hot water upon request. During breakfast, we notice that there arent any foreign travelers staying in this hotel. Most of them looking like Uyghurs and Chinese coming from other cities for business, and maybe neighboring countries like Tajikistan and Kyrgyztan.

We only stayed in Eden for one night, and although at first feeling so excited that we wanted to extend the stay for next few nights (probably because the ultimate excitement of finding shower and large bed after 4 days traveling) but we have to be realistic that one night in Eden would cost almost 3 nights in the Youth Hostel, and since we want to meet other foreign travelers in the hostel, we just need to make a move to there, expecting less convenient than hotel. But we didnt come all the way to Kashgar to stay in hotel anyway. Therefore, on second day in Kashgar, we shift to Old Town Youth Hostel, before going to Karakul Lake the next day.

Sai Palace Hotel, Agra

Basic double room with bathroom: Rs. 400 (pick-up is free!)

Sai Palace Hotel, Agra
Website: www.saipalaceagra.com

So our CouchSurfing host Mr Jai said he could not host us for first 2 nights as it was holiday, and suggested us this budget hotel nearby Taj Mahal instead. The price was perfect, we didnt need any star hotel whatsoever when all we wanted to go out walking all day and only need a place to sleep at night. Only at night.

The owner Rajiv sounds a funny man when we texted him for booking. Yes, we did the booking only by SMS on our way from Jammu, but stranded one day because of the tout incident in Delhi, and had to cancel the first night booking. After continuing our way to Agra again, luckily he wasn’t mad at us and accepted our booking.

Arriving Agra Cant train station, when we were walking out, there was a man holding a paper written ILYANI and while we thought of him as a hotel representative, which is true also, but he was in fact an auto-rickshaw driver. His name is Jabbar and he has a bit scary face whom we think we can find resemble in one of Indian movies.. but anyway, he talked alot from the very first minute meeting him. He offered to bring us Agra city-sightseeing with his rickshaw, which he called his ‘helicopter’ :P

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Butt’s Clermont Houseboat

Auto-rickshaw from Dal Gate to Clermont Houseboat: Rs.100

We arrived at Mr Ghulam Butt’s Clermont Houseboat after lunch at Lhasa Restaurant. And to our surprise, this houseboat is very exclusive and an outstanding from the bunch of houseboats we had seen earlier in Dal Gate. It comes with its private garden, and consists of 4 to 5 big houseboats, a house of the workers and housekeepers, a kitchen, a gallery building, and another small house for souvenir shop. Also, a posh-looking summer cottage in the corner. All of this are located inside a private gated area belongs to its respectful owner, Mr Ghulam Butt, elder brother of Mr Bashir.

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Accommodation in Delhi

We stayed in a guest house next to Mr.Bashir’s place. It was a simple but neat apartment. We were supposed to CouchSurf at Mr Bashir (whatever it might mean) but the least we thought that we would be given a complete hotel room! There was a girl called Sushma who’s managing the guest house. She’s a very chatty girl and loves to talk to us, and she’s speaking Hindi with us all times as if we understand her :) Ya this is Susma in the picture.

The location is in the South Extention II, less than 1km away from AIIMS Metro Station (AIIMS stands for All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences, which is located next to the station, also with a hospital.) It’s still very convenient if you want a place near Metro station to get to almost everywhere in Delhi. If you’re too lazy to walk, rickshaws are available everywhere and it’s cheap if you bargain.

The guest house is a tall apartment, I think has around 5-6 floors.  It doesnt come with elevator, but not bad as stairs are clean and well kept, only once we had to give emergency call to Mr Bashir as a huge dog was sitting in the middle of stair when we were going down. The room rate as Sushma’s was Rs.1000, as pictured below.

The room doesnt come with attached bathroom, rather in every floor there’s a shared bathroom (looking posh though, with a small fan inside!) and a pantry (with kitchenette) shared by guests in two rooms every floor. So in every floor there are only two rooms (not crowded). I met a guest from Afghanistan staying here for about a month in the room the next door.

The apartment has a balcony, from where we loved stand to get early morning breeze and sunrise, while watching nearby buildings and people passing by the street.

This small car is India’s cheapest card produced, at Rs.100,000 and we get to see alot of them around!

A lovely sunrise in our first morning in Delhi :) We’ll be visiting many places today and tomorrow.

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