The Market

Kashgar Travel Blog

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Funny bottoms, these sheep have.

Kashgar's Sunday Market is world renowned as a spectacle. In fact, there are two - the livestock market and the main bazaar. I headed for the livestock market first, a couple of miles from the centre. It was a dusty, noisy, bustling place, full of animals and people. Everywhere around me, deals were being done...donkeys being road tested, hands being shaken over the rump of a cow, or a row of sheep. Uighur men in skull caps, scarved women, and children, all crowded into the donkey powered carts (often sharing them with their livestock) and queueing to get in. Brilliant.

I risked jumping on a public bus to get into town for the main bazaar. Not recognising any of the parts of the city it ended up in, I thought the safest thing to do would be get off when most other people did.

Trouble is, outside of the main square area, the road signs are only in Uighur (an Arabic script) and Mandarin - so I was hopelessly lost. I ended up getting a taxi after all.

The Sunday market is so huge it's impossible to put across. People don't just come here from 'miles around' - they come from 'countries around' - from Pakistan and  Kyrgystan, for instance, just to trade here. It was crowded, cacophonous and wonderful. The street food here is amazing, and I could barely move for stands of it. I ended up eating chicken kebabs at one stand, naan soaked in meat juice and loaded with roast mutton, at another (where I ate and chatted with a local celebrity called 'Elvis'), then ate dessert at two further stalls - one which sold slices of melon, and the other, rice compressed in leaves with a marinated cherry, then unwrapped and drizzled with the dark rich honey they produce here.

Gorgeous. Then I bought some of the amazingly soft and ripe green figs, which are sold wrapped in fig leaves, to take back to my room.

Crossing the road in China calls for confidence and nonchalance. Even small towns and cities have main streets that are six lanes wide. There are no crossings as such, but the technique is very simple. Glance briefly to check that nothing in the nearest lane is actually about to hit you, then, without so much as a further glance, casually walk across the first three lanes to the yellow line in the middle. Then repeat. As a young Canadian said as he accompanied me across one day, "The worst thing you can do is look, isn't it?" It helps to know that if a car hits a pedestrian, the law says that it is always the driver's fault, whatever the circumstances, and a long prison term results. So drivers try very hard not to. Even walking in quiet areas is potentially fraught though. Almost all Chinese scooters and motorcycles are powered by electricity, and therefore silent.

I'm struggling with photos here. The only ones loading are random ones, and certainly not the best of the bunch. I'll do what I can, but I hope there'll be more, and far better ones, later.

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Funny bottoms, these sheep have.
Funny bottoms, these sheep have.
photo by: Biedjee