Along the Silk Road in Western China – Xian, Jiayuaguan, Dunhang, Turpan, Kashgar and Tash Rabhat.

Phil Cooper

Phil Cooper HistoricTravelTalks
East Midlands
Notice Period:
Short (maybe less than one month's notice)
U3A, Rotary, Probus, Schools
30th December 2018
Silk Road | China (Western) | Kashgar | Turpan

The Silk Road in Western China, obviously many associate with its most famous trading route, but it is also how religion spread in the region. Please copy and paste to view the places visited Xian is famous for being the start of the Silk Road, where silk is till made. Of course I include footage from the Terracotta Army. It also boasts a city wall, which runs for 8.5 miles. At the start of the journey Mount Kongtong is one of the important sites in the Taoist religion. Buddhism spread from India and is evident at places like Xiahe lying on the fringe of the Tibetan plains and Bingling was the seat of Buddhism where there is the huge statue of the Buddha. This theme is continued further on at the extensive monastery at the Magao “Caves of a thousand Buddhas”, near Dunhuang, where there was a scramble for historic Buddhist manuscripts. These days the signs of Islam are visible with numerous modern mosques along the route. This part of the Silk Road travels through the Taklamakan Desert, which experiences extremes of temperature. The meaning of Taklamakan is generally taken to mean that you may enter, but you may not leave. To protect the trade routes Jiayuguan Fort was built at the most western point of China, particularly in apprehension of attacks from Tamerlane, whose capital was in Samarkand. Nearby is the Overhanging Wall, which is part of the Great Wall. Turpan was a major stop over along the Silk road and is well below sea level. Irrigated by the karaz canals running underground there are signs all around of the buildings to hang the grapes, Nearby are the ruins of Jiaohe or Yar city, a major city on the old trade routes and displays many Buddhist features. Kashgar is perhaps the most important city in the area and was of great strategic and trading importance. The soul of Kashgar is the old city some of it remains, while other parts have been restored. It is famous for the Sunday market and the sites at the animal market. Entering the mountainous country of Kyrgystan, the focal point point is Tash rabat. Probably originally a Nestorian or Buddhist monastery it became an important caravanserai, where the local Khan collected taxes.

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About Phil Cooper

The accent is on the visual, with enough verbal to explain the story of where I have visited. I have accumulated what I feel are good photographs to illustrate my talks which relate to my travel experience. These are to places, often with a historical background and often not readily visited. These include Syria and Jordan, the Silk Road in Central Asia and Western China,, India, Cuba and Peru.

“Great presentation – I spoke to people tonight they were the cleanest photos seen at a Travel Club Presentation. Very good 9 out of 10. It must have been good, hardly anyone dropped off to sleep!” (Taradale Travel Club New Zealand).

My blog site is (Copy and paste)

One recent trip I undertook was to Northern India and the wildlife reserves in Assam, such as Kaziranga, where there is a large variety of wildlife, including the vulnerable One Horned Rhino. This is the basis of a talk which was well received at Havelock North Rotary Club, Hawkes Bay New Zealand in February 2018.

I look back at my trip in the Middle East - from Cairo to Istanbul and reflect on what I saw then and what I see currently in places like Aleppo. However the highlight for me was the crusader fortress of Krak des Chevaliers, which is shown on the photo I have included. This was described by TE Lawrence as "perhaps the best preserved and most wholly admirable castle in the world". Indeed he associated with many places along this journey.

I research the topics thoroughly and I provide a narrative and background to illustrated talks. I operate on a voluntary basis and am prepared to travel within reasonable distances from my home in North Nottinghamshire.

 Along the Silk Road in Central Asia Talk Feedback

This part of Central Asia included in particular Kunya Urgench, Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand. The buildings are simply stunning and the area is historically very interesting. It is the arena where the Great Game was played out, the political and diplomatic confrontation between Britain and Russia in the 19th century, which was described by one of the audience as fascinating.

"Very interesting talk. I could hear every word. I knew nothing about this area and learnt a lot. Pleased I came!!"

“Your talk was extremely interesting and I do believe, if you had spoken for much longer   everyone should enjoy it, and no-one would be bored. I did like the aspect that you kept referring to the map when relating to the history this indeed helps when discussing reasons and timings when situations occurred in the distant past. I also feel that your talk appeals to almost all  age groups, and both male and female.”

I am a former graduate Biology teacher and also coached cricket for 24 seasons. mainly in New Zealand,Scotland and Amsterdam. as a professional.

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