We were about 100 miles from Afghanistan, when the president of the USA talked about bombing that country. Up until now we believed that China was the safest place to be in the days following 9/11. The Beijing hotel where we stayed that fateful day, had given all the Americans letters of condolence. As we traveled westward towards Kashgar, the news reports were all in Mandarin, but the images were unmistakable.
During my first trip to China 5 years earlier I had discovered that there were a myriad of ethnic groups living in that country, and longed to visit as many as I could. I became obsessed with the idea of traveling the Silk Road, and began that journey with travels through Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
The Chinese portion of the Silk Road took me to the Buddhist caves of Dunhuang, through the Taklamakan Desert, and into Xinjiang, the home of the Muslim Uyghers, whose language I found was nearly identical to Uzbek.