Hotan Travel Blog› entry 10 of 24 › view all entries
I spent almost all day sucked into the madness and frenzy that is the Hotan Bazaar. It takes over the entire northeast of the town. Streets full of donkey carts, food stands and stalls selling everything you can think of and plenty that you can't. The jade market was amazing. Hundreds and hundred of men in skull caps, just milling around, each with just a palmful of white jade. Groups would huddle in negotiation and trading...occasionally, a minor argument...but quite extraordinary. Meanwhile, on the ground were the stall holders wares of piles of rocks, which might, or might not, yield jade. Other rocks were displayed in cases of water in order to be better judged.
Nearby was a stall selling frozen honey with yoghurt - something I'd planned to eat ever since I'd heard of it - and it was amazing.
Hotan is incredibly dusty. Everything is covered in no time at all, and shopkeepers seem to have to have someone permanently employed keeping the steps dust free. Stall holders constantly dust their produce, and anythingyou want to look at is wiped before it's handed over. i really don't know how people live with it. I suspect that some of the women who have their faces covered, do so as much to keep the dust out as for modesty.
Today I was asked "are you a tourist, or a journalist?" I don't think the carpet seller's friend had any ulterior motive for asking. Maybe he just wanted a good write up - but all the same, it was another vaguely disconcerting moment.
I wish they'd stop looking at me funny. The army, that is. I went for a walk in the square this evening.