Friday, September 9, 2011

Kashgar, Xinjiang Province, China

My camera is not working. I used Ethan's camera for the majority of the August trip and still have not uploaded pictures.

Something today triggered a memory of Kashgar.  The city of Kashgar is in Xinjiang province in western China. It is home to the largest population of Uyghurs in the country.  We reached it via 24 hour train journey from Urumqi, China, a drab sprawl of a city.

As our luck would have it, we arrived in early August, just days after the incident in Kashgar that left at least 19 dead.  Media was blocked, so we had no clue.  All we knew was of the incident in Khotan, another city in Xinjiang, a few weeks prior.

The military presence in the city was astounding - and intimidating.  Battalions of armed men were positioned in the central mosque area.  Caravans full of military men slowly cruised down the streets, monitoring.  Traveling into the city and out, we encountered checkpoint after checkpoint, after checkpoint.

But I digress.

We stayed in the center of Old Kashgar, a crumbling labyrinth of mud-brick buildings, narrow streets, hat shops, spice stalls, dried fruit vendors, and small tea shops.  It is an incredible city.  If you allow yourself to get lost in its maze, you come across small mosques and curious eyes, you pass women wearing brightly colored ikat-print dresses, glimpse low-slung courtyards . . .

Directly outside of our guesthouse were food vendors, where, in the dry August heat, men sold fire-baked bread.  The one pictured is similar to naan, but much thicker and sprinkled with sesame, onion, and spices.  Locals eat it as a snack, or use it to pull off bits of spicy lamb from a sizzling pork kebab.

At the time of our visit, it was Ramadan, and our guesthouse asked us to refrain from eating or drinking on the streets.  As such, we had to buy food and slink away, like little street urchins, to dark corners to take sips from our water bottles and to nibble on snacks. It was over 100 degrees, an unforgiving dry heat.  If I didn't eat, I would surely pass out.


  1. That bread looks like art...delicious art! I'm glad you're giving us glimpses into your trips; otherwise, I'd never know what it's like in these exotic, faraway locations.

    I hope work is running more smoothly. I'm inspired by all the work you're doing!

  2. Hi Tee. Thanks for your words. I think you already do a good job of exploring exotic locations! I also hope work and life here will flow more smoothly in the near future.

  3. I went to Madewell last month and thought of you!

  4. How I miss China and how sad it makes me when I read about oppression like this, it does not need to be this way. Glad you enjoy that wonderful city.

  5. Hi Yoli! It was really jarring. I remember monitoring the faces of residents whenever the vans full of military cruised down the street. It was a really tense time. Yet, the city was so interesting and those days spent escaping the heat in Kashgar are very warm memories.


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