5 Facts You Didn’t Know About Xinjiang

Jun 23, 2010

You won’t find these in the Guinness Book of Records and you won’t read about them in any China travel guides.

These fun tidbits are usually buried behind mounds of more important information, but today it is my pleasure to share them with you.


1. Xinjiang Has the Highest Road in the World

Completed in 1957, the Xinjiang-Tibet highway (also known as national highway 219) is the highest road in the world. Its pass through the Kunlun Mountains onto the Tibetan Plateau reaches over 6,000 metres in elevation and is arguably one of the more difficult ways to travel from Xinjiang to Tibet because much of it isn’t paved. As a side note, part of this road passes into the “disputed zone” between China and India (i.e. they both claim the land to be theirs).

national highway



2. Home to China’s only Wild Camel Reserve

The two-humped camel, also called the Bactrian camel, is currently found wild in only three places in the world – the Taklamakan Desert, Lop Nur, and a part of the China/Mongolia border. The camel reserve was established in 1999 and covers 65,000 square kilometres of barren nothing-ness. Thankfully camels seem to be immune to the effects of nuclear radiation. (See a map of the camel reserve)

camel transport



3. You’ve Probably Seen it in the Movie Theater

Xinjiang has been the setting for quite a few Chinese films, but more than likely you haven’t seen any of them. There are, however, a few movies you probably have seen that you might not realise were shot in Xinjiang.

“The Kite Runner” was entirely filmed in Kashgar, a city on the western tip of Xinjiang, while a scene from “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” was filmed at the Karamay Ghost City in the north.

Movies shot in Xinjiang: The Kite Runner and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon



4. Bill Gates Spent his Honeymoon

Here Ok, so not *all* of his honeymoon, but he did stop here. For those who have read “Oracle Bones” by Peter Hessler, this fact won’t come as much of a shock but what’s interesting is that I can find no other evidence to back up this claim. Regardless, it’s a pretty fun trivia fact. According to Hessler they only spent a few hours there checking out the museum mummies and meeting with a woman who is now Xinjiang’s #1 enemy.


bill gates



5. Home to the Oldest Chinese Papercut

Apparently an ancient Chinese soldier got pretty bored while being stationed in one of the garrison towns along the Silk Road. His paper creation was found and dated back to the 5thor 6th century during the Southern and Northern dynasties.

xinjiang papercut


This post was originally published on Xinjiang: Far West China.