National Geographic magazine last year had an article on Urumqi and Kashgar on the Silk Road. Located in China just across the boarder from Pakistan and Afghanistan in Western China, this area is historically famous as part of the Great Silk Road. The magazine reported about tearing down one of the Old Muslim Sections of Kashgar. There are actually 5 large Muslim neighborhoods of homes in Kashgar. Above pictured is one of them located very close to the central area which I visited this past September. Kashgar is a wonderful place to visit not only for the Great Saturday/Sunday markets which is is best known for but for the wonderful Muslim culture. We can still see much of the old mixed in with the new. Donkey carts delivering fresh produce to the neighborhoods can still be seen as well as the home factories making all kinds of wonderful hand made products. Above pictured with me is Ekber a local Muslim Guide who posses a great deal of cultural information and history of his home city. We are standing in the Square in front of the large Mosque. Yes the markets are interesting for bargains, but don’t overlook the rich cultural history of this area and the food is not to be missed as well. For more information see my web site at www.interlakechinatours.com We added two new tours between Urumqi and Kashgar to include Hotan and the Takilmahan desert.
I will be writing about my 50th trip to China this coming week having just returned home after 30 days. We covered the Silk Road, Shangrila, LiJiang, Jiuzhaigou National Park, the Yangtze River cruise, Beijing and Shanghai this trip. Kashgar is known for the Saturday and Sunday Market however the markets are open all week now but one additional building is open on weekends. Just more of the same huge variety of goods and products. The Sunday Animal Market is still held too. Most tours do not include the Old Ughur sections of Kashgar of which there are five. Above pictured is one large settlement near the center of the city. As old as 500 years it is a maze of crudely built homes and apartments attached to each other with narrow walk ways throughout the huge complex. Pictured above is Ekbar our local guide who is Ughur and had a splendid description of the history and culture of the Ughur people. Many hand crafted products are made in homes. It is very common to walk into a Ughur home. There are two doors to each home. If the lock is on then no one is home. If the lock is on and open, someone is home but does not want to be disturbed. If the right door only is open. The woman of the house is home and welcomes any female visitor but no men. If both doors are open, then the man and woman of the house are home and you can just walk in and visit them. It was a bit shocking to just walk in with Ekbar and walk around their homes visiting with them for a short while and then politely walk out. It is the hospitality of the Ughur people. Be sure to do that when you visit Kashgar. It is culturally extremely interesting. More about the Silk Road in the next week. My 2010 web site will be up in about 4 weeks.
The Silk Road stretches from Xian to the northwest of China at Urumqi and to Kashi or Kashgar as it is also called on the Afgan boarder. The nationalities are often mixed in this area with ancestors from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkey, Siberia, Ugars and others. Mostly Muslims, it is one of the most interesting areas of China. Above photos are from Kashgar once known as the largest trading area on the Silk Road. Today the Sunday Animal Market is still held and the shops and stalls are full of merchandise of all kinds from surrounding countries all during the week. The calling to prayers in the main square of Kashgar is interesting to see. The Square can be quiet and mostly empty until the announcement on the loud speaker calls them to prayer and all of a sudden the Square is full as you see above. The food is fantastic and you must try Goat Ice Cream which has to be the best in the world. Travel on the Silk Road includes Turpan in the middle of the desert at the second lowest place on earth, Dunhuang with its Buddhist Caves and of course Xian with the Terra Cotta Warriors site. I will be working this fall up on the Silk Road inspecting hotels and checking out some of the changes since my last trip there to keep updated for my tour business. This is my 25th year doing Tours to China and acting as a China Travel Service and Tour Operator to China. Let my experience with 50+ working trips to China and my Chinese Associate partners help plan a tour just for you.