In China.

The group is now parked up in the courtyard of the Seman Hotel (39.470823°N 75.967113°E) in Kashi (Kashgar) China. We are less our CB radios, our satellite phone and some of K-Nines rear lights, but with a good guide, Chinese number plates, Chinese driving licences and most surprisingly LPG for OJ!

In some ways the KKH has been a slight disappointment for the two vans on this trip (K-Nine and Mog) that crossed Tibet in 2002. Throughout this trip we have been threatening the three other vans with stories of bad roads, land slides, ice and snow. And what do we get? We get 99.9% good tarmac and good weather! In truth we have got from Europe to Kashi in China on roads that would not give any reliable campervan (or saloon car) a problem. But in every other way the KKH has been magnificent! The farther north we went the more spectacular the scenery and the more friendly the people.

Because of the uncertainty of the Chinese side of the border we wanted to get as close as possible on the night before we were scheduled to cross (you have to arrange for your *Chinese guide to meet you so a fixed date and rough time is required). As a result we cleared Pakistan customs and immigration formalities at New Sost (36.690295°N 74.820462°E) then drove further north to Dih National Park Guest House (36.862650°N 74.998740°E) where we parked for the night (free). Rather surprisingly there is a fuel station between New Sost and Dih (where the fuel is pumped by hand). When we were there there was only diesel. (36.733742°N 74.821807°E).

OJ crosses the one bit of bad road to the border.In the morning the temperature was around zero and Mog had great difficulty starting because of wax solidifying in the diesel sediment bowl. Two other vans stopped or failed to re-start within the first kilometer for the same reason. The problem was eventually solved by hot water, the sun, adding petrol and most importantly adding K-Nine's "anti-gelling" agent to our fuel. But it would have been far better to have added this the day before! Other than this the drive to the border was uneventful except for one very short section of snow and ice.

Unlike the Touragart Pass the Khunjerab Pass (on the KKH) has no splendid arch to mark the entry into China , just a road sign telling you to drive on the right and a locked metal gate. You pull up to the gate and wait for the guards, two kilometers down the road, to notice you and send somebody up to let you in! Unfortunately whilst we were waiting Imp rolled forward into the back of K-Nine breaking his rear right-hand lights.

(Stop Press: I have just been told that the Arch on the Touragart Pass is no more - What a shame!)

The first Chinese check point (border plus 2km) eventually asked to see the document detailing the agency* that we were using for our travel in China and after telephoning them (we think) agreed that we could proceed to Tashkurgan (border plus 125km) subject to a very thorough search of each van (books, maps, tapes and CDs were scrutinised in some detail) and a guard traveling in the first and last vehicle. On arrival in Tashkurgan we met our guide (*Taher Anvar) for the first time who eased our progress thru:-

  1. The health/quarantine check (we claimed not to be paranoid nor to have SARS but admitted to having (banned) milk products). Our body temperatures were measured electronically. Our forms were then stamped twice and tossed in a draw unread.
  2. The vehicle wheel disinfection service. Some parts of our tyres were ineffectually sprayed with an unknown chemical (water?). Note that we had already driven over 125km in China at this point!
  3. Vehicle Inspection. The chassis numbers and engine numbers of our vehicles were then checked against a list we supplied. They matched. Note that they were not checked against the "Temporary Vehicle Travelling Licence" that our guide had for us, which was lucky because these were not valid for two days and had incomplete engine numbers. Our "Temporary Driving Licences" were also not valid for another two days! We were issued with our temporary Chinese number plates.
  4. Immigration. Our passports were then stamped in different colours for the "driver" and the "passenger"
  5. Our CB radios and satellite phone are sealed!Customs. This is where the problems started. Because we had not sought approval in advance we were required to remove our CB radios (they expressed concern we might use them to talk to the UK!) and these were sealed in a cardboard box, only to be opened when we leave China. For the same reason our Iridium satellite phone was also "sealed". It should be noted that we could (indeed some of us did) phone the UK from the customs area via the excellent Chinese GSM (Cell) phone system.

We spent the first night in China at the Pamir Hotel in Tashkurgan (37.779888°N 75.231282°E) where we parked for 10 Yuan per van per night. The restaurant was OK and we sampled our first beer in some time (Iran and Pakistan both being "dry"). The hotel also changed US Dollars cash into Yuan in the morning.

Our second night in China was spent on the shores of lake Karakill at a "Yurt Camp" (38.441880°N 75.046007°E) with spectacular views of a 7546 metre mountain, camel rides and another beer serving restaurant. Cost 20 Yuan per person plus 20 Yuan per vehicle.

LPG and no problems getting it!

Today Taher took OJ to an LPG fuel station in Kashi (The Ming Sheng Gas Company on Airport Road) that was able (and willing) to fill his gas cylinders (39.524895°N 75.994418°E). Note that OJ has unusual cylinders that are intended to be filled at a vehicle LPG pump, not the more common type of exchangeable cylinder (e.g. Calor or Gaz).

*Because of the complexity of importing vehicles into China and getting permission to drive a specific route it is necessary to make arrangements via an approved travel agency. On this trip we made arrangements thru the ever helpful Greg Kopan of "Caravan Cafe". E-Mail:

Our excellent guide (Adventure Tour Manager) was Taher Anvar (E-Mail: of Comfort Newland Kashgar International Travel Service (E-Mail:

Stephen Stewart.

Home - This page last changed on 2004-06-04