Did I say...
Hotan Travel Blog› entry 11 of 24 › view all entries
...I'd not seen a single other westerner? As I was queueing for a coffee at 'Hamburger Very Mine '(the only place that sells it), I heard a voice call "Hi Sarah!". It was Nick - a young Aussie I'd met briefly in Kashgar. He's studying Mandarin at a university in Hangzhou. We spent the next three hours or so chatting over a table in the fast food joint, like people who've not spoken English to anyone in a week do. He was facing a series of sleeper bus journeys with no book, having been scouring the bookshops for anything....anything, in English - with no joy. Selflessly I offered him one of mine, and he went off with 'The Great Railway Bazaar', chosen by virtue of it being the thickest and having the smallest font.
It was a quiet day otherwise. I took a ride out to visit the silk and carpet factories. The latter was mindblowing. I honestly don't know how six women sitting at a loom can create an intricately patterned carpet with no apparent means of knowing what they're doing. The factory was in no way touristy, nor were there any guides. You just walked into the different workshops and buildings and watched what you liked.
It's 8 o clock now. I just walked to the square to see what the street food vendors have on offer for tea tonight. But damn... the military numbers have trebled, and they've now taken over the whole square. The kiddies have nowhere to pedal their trikes or kick a ball about, apart from the walkways to either side. I wish I could take a photo - I've seen nothing like it.
Yesterday long red banners appeared, lining the square. Nick translated some of them for me. They were all along the lines of "China's minorities live harmoniously together" and ""The minorities of China are properous and happy" This morning, one of the banners hangs over my hotel entrance...and above some of the shops next to it. It's like being in Orwell's '1984'
On a happier note, I walked along a parallel street.
Ha ha! Just back from another walk. On one side of the square is a big screen showing TV. A soap appeared to be on. It cheered me up no end, to see that the four nearest pairs of perimeter guards were busy watching that, rather than the likes of us!