Sunday, October 23, 2011

Kashgar - Sunday Bazaar #3

As promised, this is the third and last post about the Sunday Bazzar, specifically the local/outside section. 

Dude, what an awesome place. The spices and herbs and nuts in massive sacks along the path were almost cliche in how poetic they were. The old men in their caps and the women with their headscarfes meant that not for one second could you forget where you really were. Donkeys and scooters clipped my feet constantly, there was dust in my eyes, and the sun was beating down. I don't think this place could be more stereotypical if it tried. AND IT WAS GREAT!!!

For the first half hour we had a wonderful time going from shop to shop and stall to stall. I tried all the different kinds of nuts before settling on some mini almonds and I smelt all the different kinds of chilli before buying a jin (half a kilo) of the one that didn't make my eyes water too much, but has a wonderful strong spicy scent. It tasted delicious in my dinner last night. The best thing about the purchase process is that they use these wonderful big steel scoops to weight and serve you your choice. The worst thing is that you can't afford to think about how many people have touched the food before you put it in your mouth, and you also have to put the dusty taste (thanks to an actual layer of dust) aside before you get to the actual food you're eating. I like to think it's all part of the experience, and I didn't get sick! I'm pretty sure the fact that I survived the food in Xinjiang means I will never get sick ever in my whole life, but more about that later in another post about the food.

The next part seemed to be where the Kashgarians bought their clothes and homewares. All around was suddenly packed full of women and children. There was second-hand stuff and new stuff and people-making-the-clothes-right-there stuff, too. People had bags full of towels and sheets and material and there was also a crazy amount of socks for sale. A little further on and we hit a whole street full of hand-made kitchen things! Pots and pans and mini stoves and even take-home versions of the stand alone barbeques that are so famous in the area. Seriously, this market was like the Wal-Mart of Kashgar. Anything you could ever want or need for life, you could find here... if you knew where to look!

So then we bought a soft-serve from this lady. She was just sitting there. In the middle of the whole market place. With a soft serve machine. It was the shittest icecream I have ever tasted in my life (as though it was made from out-of-date powdered milk) but the cold nature of it was muchly appreciated. Nothing to complain about considering it was only 1 kuai.

Things seemed to get a little rougher from here on in. I'm not sure why, but suddenly there was nothing new or clean, there were more donkeys than bikes, and the people were a little worn around the edges, to put it nicely. In this part there were tradespeople, you know, locksmiths and shoe repairs and sewing machines and the like -

  - but it was no way near as horrible as the final aisle. THE MEAT AISLE. 


Seen enough of that flesh yet? Yeah, I'm sure you have. I know I have. Seen enough raw meat hanging in the street and covered in flies for a lifetime. The chopping boards were the worst though - they would just get a big log. Thats it. Just a big log. Oh, and they used axes instead of knives. I know. Each time they chopped something, it would make another groove in that log, and it would splinter and mash the fibres of the wood as the blood and guts got caught up in all the roughness. No way those things ever got cleaned. They were just deadly  surfaces ready to give weak bellies food poisoning. Also just super super duper duper GROSS.

It was well past midday by the time we reached that last meaty aisle, and the sun had been beating down hard on us for several hours, so we decided to call it a day and head over to that big pretty mausoleum for a slice of much-needed peacefulness.  

All in all, I think the Kashgar Sunday Bazaar definitely earns it's stripes. No wonder it's so (read: kind of) famous. It's awesome. Back when I was lying on that couch, looking at that little bubble on the Lonely Planet map, I could not have imagined such an amazing thing to be real. This Bazaar was just one of those places that could have been straight out of a movie, and yet again, I just feel so damn lucky to have been able to experience it.

Then again, I also feel lucky to have survived without my entire digestive system going kamikaze on me. 

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