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china Travel

THE SUNDAY MARKET

Sunday is day of the market and in Kash there is an animal market dating back 2,000 years! Jesus would have known this if he had come to these bands as a child.

As Flavio was on vacation, did not like to wake up early, me on the contrary wanted to take every minute of the clarity of the day to know everything, I left the hostel without him. Lok and I had found some Italians to go by taxi to such a market together, the dishonest driver didn’t want to turn on the meter, extorted us.

The market seems stopped in time as in the Middle Ages, with the exception of trucks for cattle transport, everything is archaic! You could see people shaving hair and beards in public, food stalls with charcoal or wood stoves, fruits like melons and watermelons piled up on the floor, sheep being shaved, sheep heads on the floor, animal auction, finally a medieval show.

This market that takes place every Sunday is the great attraction of the city! In fact it is the ultimate attraction of Xinjiang province, attracting hundreds of tourists eager to take photos and to see and feel the environment, and also merchants from various regions and ethnicities of Central Asia, many come from far with their cargo donkeys, horses and sheep, producing a transit of wagons. The dirt floor and the men in unmodern clothes gave even more that rural, nomadic and frozen air in time. The movie “The Kite Runner” was partly filmed here.

Kashgar’s Sunday market.

Barbers at Kashgar Market.

Lok and I hitchhiked on the tourist bus of another band of excited and retired Italians, we went to the merchandise market not as interesting as the animal market, where we separated from the Italians.

Next we went to the tomb of Apak Hoja, I found it kind of dull. The tomb, which looked like a huge mosque, was covered with green tiles on the outside wall. It was built in 1640 AD to house the body of Yusup Hoja, an Islamic missionary, however it was his son Apak Hoja who became most famous. In this cemetery there were several tombs within the building and others more in the annexed outer area.

In the evening we went to eat at the same Uighur restaurant as yesterday, this time I invited a beautiful Uighur girl from the tourism agency who looked like a mixed race, to have dinner with us, she ordered the dishes, spoke Chinese, Uighur and English and had clear eyes. We ate pigeon, typical noodles and lamb skewers. A waitress when she was not serving any table sat next to me, the chair was vacant, I looked at her strangely and waiting for her to say something, because she had not even asked permission but she remained indifferent to me, only then I realized that she just wanted to rest her legs.

Lok and I had good conversations, Lok is an assumed homosexual, which surprised me his courage to tell me the first day I met him. He confided to me his crises in adolescence, and that he had finally accepted his condition, he was a Methodist-educated Christian, like everyone in his family. I came to respect him, after all I was not his type, and my preferences were for women. Every time he talked about a girl, he told me he preferred Caucasians.

Flávio and I moved to the Qinibag Hotel, where Lok was, it was better. Here in China some hotels reserve some rooms for backpacker use as if it were hostel.

Today at the railway station I lost my mind when I went to get information of trains an Uighur simply stuck the queue and there was no point yelling or pulling him. That would be just one of the times when I’d be annoyed with these smart asses, it was something so common here that no one cared. I obviously missed the organization, education and hygiene of Japan.

The next day I didn’t do anything but sleep in the afternoon. I made contact with two other Frenchmen to arrange the tour to the desert the next day. We had dinner at the hotel’s Chinese restaurant, Flavio, Sébastien, Cassandre, Chihiro and me. I didn’t know how Chihiro was doing around here, she didn’t speak either Chinese or English and she was traveling alone. Sébastien was tall, blond, half-hunchback and half-shaved, was living and working as an engineer in Hangzhou, and had a twin brother in New York. Cassandre was a short and friendly blonde girl and knew a little Portuguese, she had studied a little Chinese and Islam.

Here in China it is forbidden to have any religion when you are a child, student or member of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party), other than Maoism. Freedom of religion and expression is something hypocritical confined only to papers. Many Christians, Muslims, Tibetans and members of the Falun Gong sect are wrongfully imprisoned, tortured, have their organs harvested, women are raped and sometimes killed. The Chinese government does not respect human rights and pretends to be unaware of these acts.

Categories
china Travel

THE CHINESE FARWEST

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.

Muslim faith