"Kashi" Kashgar by John195123

Kashgar Travel Guide: 115 reviews and 272 photos

Western China's Silk Road Border Town

All I know right now about Kashgar is that it has some good markets. That, and it's in the Xin Jiang province of western China, close to the Pakistan border. The largely Muslim Uygur population doesn't seem to like Mandarin much... good for them, bad for us. Oh well.

Well, as much as I wanted to visit this area, and even though I've already started a page so I could put information on it based on my research, it looks like the violence and problems that began in Lhasa have spread here too, so I may not get to go- I just don't want to become part of someone else's problem. Grrrrr, I say.

So we made it here, finally.

Aside from some more government controls over who can and cannot enter, Kashgar, while not as relaxed as Turpan seemed, from the little I've seen so far, is a nice place. Of course it's hot and dry, but just being here is great... except for one thing: tourists. Kuqa was wonderful because we were the only white people we saw there. No Europeans or Americans... made it feel more off the beaten path. But here in Kashi, it's tourist land again, though not as bad as Beijing... except for the tourists in disrespectful clothing, but the Chinese tourists are as guilty of that if not more...

Kashgar (Kashi) is hot, it's bustling, though more with capped Muslim men and scarved Muslim women than with Han Chinese, quite a nice difference in many ways. But the Han influence is at every bend. Restaurants, stores, China Mobile towers dot the distinct landscape. Another oasis on the Silk Road and ablaze with hot summer sun roasting men cooking naan and samsa in homemade tandoori ovens, donkeys pulling melon carts, dodging motorcylists recklessly careening through narrow pedestrian streets (these people are so just... amazingly reckless and careless with other peoples' lives... it's really sad, selfish and not one of their better traits).

It is a very interesting place, and I say that with mundane, cliche words, but how does one sum up a town that still has crumbling remnants of ancient walls with modern buildings sprouting from them, tiny merchant shops with roughly bearded men hammering out decorative door hinges (the doors here are beautiful!) or sitting idle behind the yellowing fat of meat hung too long in the heat? What's a good word to describe the coyly "helloing" girls with near-shaven heads, or the dirt-smeared face of a boy with an unintentionally tilted doppa (hat) and a grin not so much of mischief, but almost an unabashed playfulness? How can I relate the disappointing, almost, feel of seeing the Chinese character, culture invading the Uyghur land; the concrete; the bright, fluorescent lights lighting up the lights of yet another energy-starved city in China?

It's not that the nature of this city is much different from any other with clashes of old and new. It's not that you wouldn't see the same things in Yunnan or Jerusalem, even. But it's here, at the western edge of the Taklemakan Desert, waypoint of the Silk Road...

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Not so Chinese!
  • Cons:Hot as a camel's... um... a camel's... a camel...
  • Last visit to Kashgar: Jul 2008
  • Intro Updated Aug 2, 2008
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John195123

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