Different, exciting and memorable Kashgar

My impressions of Kashgar are ones of awe and delight; awe at the extraordinary sights to behold across the city and delight at the warmth and friendliness of the Uyghur people.
The key sights in town include the old city, markets and the street life.  Eating seems to be a major preoccupation, and much of it occurs on the edge of the busy streets and lanes.  Lamb and bread are the staples; lamb is cut from the carcass and then marinated, skewered and BBQ’d all within meters of one another, and large ovens produce wonderful flat breads by the thousands.  Smoke from the ovens and BBQs fill the air. Traffic wends its way noisily past the pedestrians and eateries.

Just out of town, a short taxi ride is the Apah Hoja tomb, which was built in 1640 and is decorated with had made tiles; in a variety of greens, but also the very attractive blue and white.  The main tomb holds the remains of five generations of Apah Hojas family.  To the right is a cemetery, the largest in Kashgar. There are also two interesting mosques on this site located in expansive grounds.

The Hotel Eden, which is to be highly recommended, is right on the edge of the old town, and therefore very convenient for walking to the local attractions. It also offers many services including a travel service called ‘Kashgar Guide’.

Old town was constructed of adobe and has very Middle Eastern features (the shape of the windows and the wooden fretwork). The government is replacing the adobe structures with reinforced concrete structure and fired brick wall and some more modern conveniences – running water and sewerage, so the old buildings are changing rapidly. The external features will be retained, but the adobe will be replaced with decorative brickwork in Uyghur style.  The new buildings will have the benefit of being safer than the old ones in an earthquake.

The old town has streets for the various crafts: hats (including mink, arctic fox and Muslim wear), women’s wear (all Muslim), gold jewelry (astonishing), rugs (from Iran and Xinjiang), copper wear, crystal, jade stones (very large and smooth), musical instruments (more middle eastern than Chinese) and
wood turning.

The Uyghur men wear hats trimmed with mink from Russia and long coats.  Many have shaven heads but long beards. Most of the women have headscarves, and some are completely covered, head to foot. The people here have been extremely friendly, especially some of the children, who play in the streets and often, ask for their photo to be taken.  The language spoken is Uyghur which is a form of Turkic and most people also speak Mandarin.  Quite a number speak a little English.

The world famous animal market is chaotic and colorful with all manner of four-legged animals for sale; donkeys, horses, goats, sheep, cows, dogs, and cats. Also for sale were fruit trees, hay, vegetables, fresh fruit, harnesses for donkeys and horses and snack food (BBQ’d lamb and bread, of course!)

Another enormous market in town sells household items and clothing.  It is a great place to see lots of rugs and carpets, although these can also be seen in the old town streets in the antique shops. The nuts and dried fruits are a specialty of this region as are all different types of teas; saffron, rose, cardamom and black tea.  There is even Uyghur local medicine tea.  If you are interested in antiques, there are a lot of shops selling jade, coins, porcelain hangings, jewelry (silver and jade), old lock and clocks and textiles.  Much of it is authentic.

So if you want a very different, exciting and exotic travel experience, please consider Kashgar.  Your time here will certainly be memorable.

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