The journey from Ürümqi to Kashgar was shorter, only 23 hours by train and 1500km further to the far west of China. The wagon we took had air conditioning, the train was better, cleaner and more expensive than the first one I picked up here in China. It was supposed to be from another company, because the employee uniforms were different.
The way to Kashgar was more beautiful, because we passed very close between the mountains, some snowy. The train was snaking through the mountains, gaining altitude at every turn. On the way we could see many houses and villages abandoned and destroyed, I couldn’t tell you why. The train also went through several tunnels.
Kashgar railway station was smaller and cleaner than Ürümqi railway station. As the city was small we could do everything on foot.
In this city there were more Uighurs than Hans and many tourists, besides Uzbeks, Tajiks and Kyrgyz. Also called Kash, it is just west of Xinjiang, near Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, more than 4,000 km from Beijing. Like Ürümqi, Kash is an oasis city, located west of the Taklamakan desert at an altitude of 1,200 m. And it is by far much more attractive than Ürümqi, a visit here is unforgettable and unmissable. The population is 280,000 people.
We went to Kashgar Old Town, a neighborhood of the city that keeps the delay, old and poor houses and some mosques. There was no hint of modernity, there were many stalls selling household items, hats, knives, carpets, musical instruments, clothes and other things. Only children were attending in the tents, perhaps because it was time for prayer and the men were all in the mosque, as far as the women could not say, maybe they were in their homes. I took several pictures of the lovely children who liked the tourists and had fun with them. Some women covered beyond the heads, also their faces with a black cloth, leaving on display only the hands and at most the wrist.
I didn’t risk eating on the street here, because I found everything very unhygienic, but I risked eating at a Uighur restaurant, and I can say that any dirty Chinese restaurant would look like five stars near the ones here. I made an effort to understand the way of life they were used to taking, but since I’m not an anthropologist, I have struggled.
I passed the yellow mosque called Id Kah, in the heart of the city, the largest in China, but it was silly to enter, because tourists had to pay and there was nothing interesting on the inside, only a huge wooded courtyard, the attraction itself was outside. Built in 1442 AD, it houses 10,000 to 20,000 people, but it’s tight. And since it was Friday, the main day of prayer for Muslims, it was crowded with people. The men occupied the square, and they kept leaving the mosque, while I was taking some pictures. I waited for everyone to come out to go in later. In front of there were poor people, old ladies and widows begging for alms.
Here in China is adopted the official time of Beijing for the whole country, but in cities as far away from Beijing as Kashgar this time was not convenient. Xinjiang ends up adopting its own unofficial time zone, the difference was three hours from the capital.
Flávio and I stayed at the Seman Hotel, which, by the way, we didn’t like it.
Uighurs in Kashgar – China.