Thursday, October 13, 2011

Kashgar city report

Kashgar captured my heart. It is safe to say that a I have never been anywhere like it and I am confident with the capitulating that there exists no other place like it. And never will.
Kashgar is Kashi in Mandarin. Urumqi is the capital city you travel through to get to Kashgar, and Jinan is where I live.

Technically Xinjiang is part of China, and in a big city like Urumqi it is almost believable, but when you travel to this southernmost town, there is nothing anybody could say to convince me we were still in China. The government imposes ‘Beijing Time’ on the region, but everybody runs on ‘Local Time’ which is two hours later – otherwise the sun rises at 9am.

Every street is an alley. And every alley has it's story.
The kids are alright, but the pharmacies aren't.
So if we aren’t in China, then where are we? In local Uyghur language tea is chai and bread is naan, so we could be in a little bit of India. Then again, the faces of the people around me were clearly Eastern-European and the all women wore headscarves and the men all grew beards, so we could have sampled a slice of Turkey. Then again, parts of The Kite Runner movie were filmed here because it just looks so damn much like Afghanistan – which it really does – so there’s another possibility.

Every morning fresh bagels. More on the food later though. Just know that it was SO GOOD.
This was the view from the front door of our hostel. Actually this is the same kind of view you get everywhere.
The 'Old Town' city centre in peak hour.

Now in October, the mornings are crisp and cold, but by lunchtime you’re sweating in your t-shirts. The sun takes hours to properly rise and then again to truly set. The city is bathed in blinding horizontal golden light for a good part of the day. Traffic accidents abound, and we saw three within three days. Massive trucks carrying cars will veer off the road because three men with a donkeys and carts have come around the corner too slowly. The electric scooters often return to single-storey mud-brick homes, and mobile phones abound but cameras seem fantastical to the people.

The best teahouse in the world. I'm gonna do a whole post on it's awesomeness.
Bundles of old cash in one of the bazaars. We couldn't even tell what country it was from.
I've never been to Afghanistan, but soemthing tells me this places holds an uncanny resemblance to it.
So all in all, existing in Kashgar is to simultaneously exist in multiple cultures and time zones and eras and climates.

It has been this way since the beginning of it’s time, this town is pretty much the poster girl for good globalization. The current spoken Uyghur language has chunks of Kazakh and Urdu and Tajik mixed all up in it. The locals can speak some Chinese sometimes, but it’s worse than mine. Signs are all of the above plus Russian. Kashgar was a major hub on the silk road, and the bustly trading atmosphere still permeates through the Old City in particular. The Sunday bazaar is the centre of life and although some areas in this place are getting higher and shinier quickly, the old areas are just getting older and better and more full of character and awesome amazing people. 

A nighttime stroll down our street.
A small coal yard to feed the famous Uyghur barbeque stands.
The entire 'Old Town' is either being built or falling apart. It looks like a war zone.
 AGH! I’m just bursting with all the things I want to tell you about Kashgar alone! I can’t contain it, but this is gonna be a wonderful marathon, so I’m going to do separate posts about the Kashgar people (some really amazing photos) and the local Uyghur food (expectations officially obliterated – in a great way) and the Sunday Markets/Bazaar (and the wonderful things I bought there) and the religion (it’s Muslim, but different).

I guess this is what happens when you don't tend to your grains. Lol.
 And that’s just within Kashgar. I know. Shazam.

Ironically, I think this is the best photo I have of me from the trip.


  1. I want to visit that tea house . . .beautiful tiles and those curtains!! I'm jealous x

  2. wow - I never visited a place like that - I believe you when you say it was a truly unforgettable experience. When I go back to China, I will make it a priority to go to'll be about a year or so away, but I'll do it!

  3. Dude! words. Honestly. Amazing.

  4. I also don't know why my name came up four times.

  5. WOW! I am blown away. A million thanks Bri! for bringing this to my Brisbane bedroom! wow....


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