Kashgar on the Silk Road!
Anerve center of the Silk Road is Kashgar , in the extreme west of China, in the province of Xingiang. We are in the Uigur area gradually being diluted among the masses of Chinese have the central government sent there just to drown native ethnic groups and stifle any independence movement.
Here the caravans that were going to or had just crossed the feared Taklamakan desert converged. Perhaps this was their goal, and the relay was taken by others in charge of continuing to Samarkand, or to Mongolia in the north. Or to Iran and Iraq crossing Pakistan and Afghanistan if they went to the West. They probably took a few days off here before continuing on their way.
Getting to Kashgar from Kyrgyzstan
We arrived one afternoon, coming from the Irkestam Pass, border with Kyrgyzstan . This is a border crossing in theory only for goods and local personnel. Some local passenger bus.
We are like a fly in a glass of milk. We unloaded the Kyrgyz truck and waited at the customs building.
A very angry military high command comes, yelling at us and kicking the ground because we don’t open our backpacks. In the end we open a pair, take a look and seeing so many dirty clothes decides to give up. The best thing to deter customs is to leave a lot of dirty clothes in sight, juas! Finally, they look at our passports and we complete the procedures. A colleague is ill and surprisingly they offer him a stool in the sun and some tea (¿??).
We managed to get a truck to take us in its back box (fortunately empty) in exchange for a few yuan. We passed the miles of no-man’s-land to the official entrance to China, caravanning with another bunch of trucks, hidden behind the planks of ours. As if we were won. In the end, we are very lucky and only invested about two and a half hours in the process.
Tired, and in Kashgar, we find a hotel run by Chinese were watching us undaunted. It is very difficult to know if they do not speak English, or if they have become statues. Any attempt at communication is greeted with maddening immobility. Either you insist, or you give up, it depends on how important it is. They only come alive when they try to lure us into the adjoining souvenir shop, full of tacky.https://widget.getyourguide.com/default/activites.frame?locale_code=es-ES&widget=activities&number_of_items=3&cmp=kashgar%20china¤cy=EUR&see_more=true&partner_id=KR22NF5&placement=content-middle&q=kashgar&website=https%3A%2F%2Flosviajesdeali.com%2Fkashgar-en-la-ruta-de-la-seda%2F
Sunset in Kashgar
We went out for our first walk and we found a city that despite all the paraphernalia of posters and screens with Chinese characters, maintains its Uighur essence.
I’m talking about the center of Kashgar (or Kashi). In the evening sun the streets are full of stalls with grilled skewers, ripe figs, fresh bread and other food. People have a snack, perhaps at the end of their workday.
People of different ethnicities mix in the swing. We recognize the Uzbeks and Kyrgyz, there are also Turkmen. They have different features, hats and outfits.
In a large square we find the Id Kah mosque, the largest in all of China , which also houses a madrasah with a capacity for 400 students and bathrooms for more than 100 people.
The square itself is full of life. There are even camels!
At sunset, after the prayer, there is an open-air cinema session , in the great square.
Men, women, children, the elderly and old women. Everyone gathers standing or squatting and absorbed by the large flat screen installed on one side of the plaza. The movie is like Bollywood but in Chinese. With its a lot of action, more drama, humor that exploits the ridiculous. Another way to acculturate.
In another part of the city, in a large square with a clearly Chinese-communist style, is one of the largest Mao statues that remain in China.
The modern city, which little by little is eating into the old, are large bland avenues, full of the typical crazy traffic in several lanes. A little far from the center there is a large market enclosed between walls and ceilings. It aims to recreate the city’s merchant past, concentrating day-to-day products: food, fabrics, various trinkets.
The old city of Kashgar
The next day, after returning from the weekly Kashgar market – agricultural and livestock market – that makes it so famous and that deserves a separate post, we return to the streets, delving into the old city.
Adobe and wood buildings, with peaceful people taking the fresh air, doing their chores, selling their wares (most of them are handcrafted everyday objects), bread for dinner, dyes to dye fabrics and silks …
There is still part of what Kashi should have been, what should have been the marketing of the Silk Road.
The sunlight is declining and giving a golden hue to these streets, where children play quietly.
Some woman appears with a kind of short burqa. A fabric with holes that covers the entire head, but only reaches the shoulders. All those who wear it are old women , who I suppose are still clinging to tradition. When the light falls, they raise said “burqa” to be able to see. What’s the point of wearing it during the day? I don’t know, I still wonder.