In summer 2007 I brought a group of a dozen professors from the U.S. on an educational tour along the Silk Road for faculty development. Along the way from Xi’an to Kashgar, we visited both tourist sites as well as arranged presentations by local scholars and officials about the diverse history, geography, religion and culture along the Silk Road.
In Kashgar, our local guide was Abdulkaiyum of Silk Road Tour, who was by far the best guide we had on the entire journey. From the moment he picked us up at the airport I was immediately impressed by his excellent command of the English language, his polite and courteaous manner, professionalism and sincerity. Some of the professors on my group were so impressed with him they offered to write him letters of recommendation to their schools should he decide to pursue a graduate degree abroad in the future. In fact, I have stayed in touch with him over the last couple of years by email, while most guides are forgetten as soon as the tour is over.
If you travel to Xinjiang through a Chinese travel agent chances our your guides will not be locals, and if they are chances are they will not be ethnicly Uyghur. I can not emphasize enough how important it is to have a Uyghur tour guide if you are interested in a deeper understanding of the local people and culture. Abdulkaiyum was able to quite literally open doors for us into the local community and that would otherwise have been impossible.