Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. - Cyril Connolly
Monday, December 03, 2007
The China Chronicles - Kashgar
Now for something completely different - Kashgar. This was easily the most remote, most visually compelling, most drastically different culture I had ever experienced. Kashgar has only been open to Westerners for about 10 years or so thanks to a railroad and the more recent addition of a small airport, and they are trying hard to capitalize on tourism. This was the billboard at the airport:"Show the Kashgar to World and Let the World Know Kashgar:

So, I will. The contrasts between old and new, Chinese and Muslim, Central Asia and China were all sharpened to an unnatural point in Kashgar. The sights, smells and the faces of the people were all so foreign from anything I was used to - but so totally compelling. One of my favorite photos from the whole trip was this young girl. I was taking a picture of the door when she shyly stepped into the doorway. She went to duck back inside and I motioned to her to please stay there so I could take her photo. Right time, right place.

You can get a sense of just how simple and basic life in Kashgar is by these next photos. Downtown traffic:

And the people are just fascinating. These people were on the front steps of the Id Kah Mosque, the largest mosque in China, in the early morning light.

And then there was this guy:

And this gentleman selling pomegranates (again with the pomegranates!).

Life is really basic here. There are few cars, but the local blacksmith shop was busy turning out donkey shoes.

Elsewhere, a man and his wife were making bagels in a small shop:

The lure of Kashgar was certainly the culture, but there are also important sites like the Id Kah mosque, the "Tomb of the Fragrant Concubine", the local bazaar, and the Karokoram Highway leading west to the border of Pakistan - the highest international paved road in the world. Kashgar's importance as an oasis town where the northern and southern routes of the ancient Silk Road merged is also rich in its history as an important trade city. It still hosts the largest animal market in Central Asia every Sunday.

Each of these deserves its own post, so lots more to come.....
posted by Broadsheet @ 11:57 AM  
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