Here's a snippet of what he wrote:
I just did a quick count of my book and twenty of the eighty or so photos in the book are from Xinjiang. Seeing how many photos from China's far west ended up in my book compared with how long I was there (just a little over two weeks), it should be obvious that I was completely floored my experiences in Xinjiang.
A good portion of this book focuses on Mark’s trip to Xinjiang with his brother. During a planned trip to Tibet with his brother in 2007, certain events in the region caused a government clampdown on travel.
“Taking into account the increased costs and needing to have a guide to go anywhere outside of Lhasa, we decided to go to Xinjiang instead. We didn’t have to hire any guides in Xinjiang and, since I knew some Chinese, we were able to be much more independent. We felt that Xinjiang totally took care of the “crazy adventurous” part of the trip that we had originally planned on going to Tibet satisfying.”
“My brother and I were floored by what we saw in Xinjiang. I’m really glad everything worked out the way it did. I’m not sure I would’ve made it to Xinjiang if the circumstances had been different.”
I'd strongly recommend traveling in Xinjiang to any adventurous traveler in China. The scenery (the numerous mountain ranges, deserts, and oasis towns), the culture, and the history are some of the most exciting things one can see in China.
Josh's site, farwestchina.com, is a great resource for anyone planning a trip or wanting to learn more about Xinjiang. Josh, like I am, is living in the US now after a multi-year stay in China but is still continuing to write and read about the part of the world that has changed his life. Bookmark his site/add him to your RSS feed so you can see his updates. And explore his archives if you're new to the site.
On a separate note, I want to mark a (somewhat) historic event in the history of this blog. My Sitemeter counter hit 100,000 visitors this week (the page views are at about 140,000).
From what I gather, Sitemeter is not considered to be the most accurate counter for websites. Google Analytics seems to be the more popular method to tabulate traffic these days. Sitemeter counts search engine spiders and that kind of stuff as legitimate traffic. Those sorts of things pad Sitemeter's numbers.
On top of that, Sitemeter straight tells me that a huge percentage of my traffic comes from Google search queries. It's great having a high PageRank, but "organic" traffic (people who come to the site sans search) is always something bloggers strive for.
Saying all that, I'm really proud to have hit this 100,000th visitor milestone. It's been a great two and a half years on this blog. Writing my thoughts, discoveries, and rants about China here has been a special and important part of my life. I'm not writing as much right now as I have at other times, but I plan on posting as much on here as I can. I'm not going to let this blog die.
I'm so happy to have had a group of people who've kept up with me throughout the years. Thank you! Things have definitely progressed from my 15-Sitemeter-hit-a-day Xanga blog back in 2006-2007.