Sunday, September 5, 2010
Day 5: Kashgar- The Edge of China
TUESDAY, AUGUST 17
Kashgar was exactly what I was looking for on this trip -- a new culture (Muslim) and people and even better attractions to see. Our hotel, the Seman Hotel, was the former Russian consulate.
We hired a driver for the day and toured the city and outer areas.
Our first stop were tombs of Abakh Khoja and the nearby mosque. We then drove off into the nearby desert to see the ruins of the Mor Stupa. A whole town used to surrounded the temple and stupa area, but had since been lost to the sands of time.
On the way back to Kashgar we stopped and visited a Uyghur family. They were very welcoming and offered us grapes and other snacks and even invited us into their home. Our driver told us it was a great honor for them to host foreigners.
After a brief stop as a mosque, where my girlfriend had to cover her arms because she was wearing a short sleeved shirt, we took a stroll through the Old City of Kashgar. It reminded me of the hutong of Beijing, only older and much more ancient looking. Around every corner was something interesting to see -- cattle roaming the streets, kids playing or someone washing clothes or preparing food.
Kashgar, like most other Chinese cities, is changing everyday. The old is being replaced with the new and people who have visited the city many times over the years told me they don't recognize it anymore. I'm glad I got to see it, before it changes too much.
ROYAL TOMBS: Abakh Khoja tombs house the royal families of Kashgar
GRAPE DEAL: I shake hands with the husband of the family we visited outside Kashgar
ANCIENT TEMPLE: The Mor Stupa outside Kashgar sits on the outskirts of a desert area
ALL THAT STANDS: There used to be a whole town here, surrounding the temple and stupa
SMILE FOR THE CAMERA: All the kids we ran into on our walk through the old city wanted their photos taken. I'd show them each photo and they'd all look at the strange black device that had captured their image
OLD CITY: The old city corridors were thin -- to thin for cars (thank God)
PLAYING AROUND: Two Uyghur children play with a tire
DONKEY TIME: When they weren't using camels, the locals used donkeys to get around