The modern Chinese state’s extreme southwest corner is located amidst a jumble of peaks in the western Pamirs, bordering four other states: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. The border actually wasn’t really ever settled until after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. With the emergence of independent Turkic (and Tajik) ‘Stans on China’s western flank, the leaders in Beijing made all kinds of territorial concessions to these new free republics. In return, Beijing has obtained their compliance in not supporting the same independance for the Uighers, their Turkic cousins living under Chinese control. But the current border still leaves plenty of Tajiks and Kyrgyz peoples on the Chinese side. And the Karakorum Highway, the famous high-altitude route linking Kashgar to Pakistan, offers one way to get up into those Pamirs and some Tajik and Kyrgyz counties. It’s also a hell of a ride.