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November 22, 2020

Life From Gilgit (Pakistan) to Kashgar (China) in the Mid-1980s Through Amazing Photos

The Karakoram Highway or the China-Pakistan Friendship Highway is a 1,300 km (810 mi) national highway which extends from Hasan Abdal in the Punjab province of Pakistan to the Khunjerab Pass in Gilgit-Baltistan, where it crosses into China and becomes China National Highway 314.

Karakoram Highway in September 1986


The highway connects the Pakistani provinces of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa plus Gilgit-Baltistan with China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. It is a popular tourist attraction and is one of the highest paved roads in the world, passing through the Karakoram mountain range, at 36°51′00″N 75°25′40″E at maximum elevation of 4,714 m (15,466 ft) near Khunjerab pass.

Due to its high elevation and the difficult conditions in which it was constructed, it is often referred to as the Eighth Wonder of the World. The highway is also a part of the Asian Highway AH4.

Here below is a set of wonderful photos that shows a road trip of John Jackson through Karakoram Highway in September 1986 from Gilgit in Northern Pakistan, to Kashgar in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China.

Shopkeeper in Gilgit or further north in Gulmit, northern Pakistan

Near Sust, Northern Pakistan. We stopped for fuel, and this man was on foot, carrying his stuff in a bindle

Sust, Northern Pakistan. About an hour from the actual border crossing to China in the Khunjerab Pass

Sust, Northern Pakistan. Travellers keep warm while waiting at the customs and immigration post about an hour from the Chinese border at Khunjerab Pass

Sust, Northern Pakistan. Truckers await inspection and paperwork at Sust customs post

Dhee. The last security checkpoint in Pakistan before the Chinese border in the Khunjerab Pass

Chinese soldier at the border crossing at the top of the Khunjerab Pass

Donkey waits near the Chinese customs and immigration post at Pirali, a 2 hour drive down from the Khunjerab Pass. This is a high, arid plateau area

Mao. An ancient oasis city on the fabled Silk Road

Market traffic, near Kashgar

Market traffic. Scenes at the famous Kashgar Sunday market

Butcher, Kashgar

Caregiver at a daycare, preschool in Kashgar, Xinjiang

Children in Kashgar were usually very well dressed. Nearly every girl wore jewelery

Hat shop, Kashgar

Kashgar, Xinjiang. Split pants are very common on infants and toddlers in China

Kashgar, Xinjiang

Scholar, Kashgar

Student, Kashgar, Xinjiang

Tajik man at the Sunday market in Kashgar

Trim and a haircut, Kashgar

Uyghur man at the Sunday market in Kashgar

Vendor, Kashgar

Tajik wedding. Hundreds of people gathered from far and wide, at a small village (a few run-down adobe buildings and yurts) for a wedding

Tajik wedding. Hundreds of people gathered from far and wide, at a small village for a wedding. When confronted with a camera, most people responded with a direct open gaze

Tajik wedding. Hundreds of people gathered from far and wide, at a small village for a wedding. While the men were gathered outside, talking and eating, the women and younger kids were mostly indoors

Tajik woman. During this trip, everyone we met seemed quite open to being photographed. No shyness, or embarrassment

The Chinese customs and immigration point at Pirali

This part of China is the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, however most of the people we encountered before arriving in Kashgar were Tajiks. They are of Persian origin




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