Due to a "political situation" -- an uprising of Kirghiz nomads in the province of Akto -- China had closed Kashgar and Xinjiang Province to all foreign tourists for 3 months in the Spring of 1990. The Karakoram Highway route across the high mountains from Pakistan -- usually re-opened with the snow-melt in May -- had remained closed until after the middle of July. That's when we rushed to the Chinese consulate in Pakistan to get our visas and get into China before they changed their minds! It turns out that they had opened only the Karakoram route, while leaving Western China closed to tourists from all the rest of China! So, with the exception of a couple of organized tours and a climbing expedition, we found ourselves among the very few foreign visitors in Kashgar that summer!
is a bit run-down but was once landscaped nicely.
Left: Mao Tse Dong still presided over the entrance to
People's Park with a statue that had begun to disappear from many
Right: Tucked away in a corner of the deserted park
we discovered the best place to eat (in 1985) in town!
Their own baker, on his oven!
The Garden Restaurant
-- shaded with woven mats -- also had very nice people,
and fresh vegetables, then seldom found in China.
Left: Papa bags peanuts while Mama tries to comprehend
her new foreign regulars.
Right: The main dish is thick noodles with lots of fresh
tomatoes and green peppers; they pack 'em in!
Left: Out in the open-air courtyard trees shade adobe platforms
spread with thatch mats, a traditional dining space.
Right: Inside, the kids make mutton pasties.
You cannot imagine how the colorful dress, open friendliness, and happy
patrons contrast with the regimented life of central Chinese cities!
Sadly, this cafe was abandoned by 1990.
By 1990, my new travel companions and I found a few more developed
Left: Like this place just down the road from our digs at the
Lao Binguan (Seman Hotel).
Right: But we still liked to hang out with the locals, like
at this tea shop on the way to the Sunday Market -- early.
100,000 people converge on Kashgar each Sunday for its open market.
Left: From very early in the morning, herders, nomads, and farmers
from the far-flung countryside -- as well as traders from Pakistan,
Urumqi, and Kazahkstan -- begin filling the streets.
Right: By breakfast time, the streets themselves are a spectacle!
All roads lead to Kashgar on Sundays!
Left: The "Old Mosque", on the eastern edge of the
Old Town is the beginning of the Market Road leading east of
town to the new Sunday Market grounds.
Right: Here merchants converge with all manner of goods before
braving the crush of the Market Road...
In 1985, all but the animal market filled the city
streets of Kashgar. By 1990, much of the market had moved
to the Market Grounds on the outskirts of town.
Left: Heading out of the center, the Market Road is a bustle
of goods and humanity.
Right: All manner of man and beast are heading to the Market!
"The most mind-boggling market in Asia", reports Lonely Planet.
I've attended three times, and I won't argue.
Left: From every corner of the province they come...
Right: Swelling the formerly sleepy streets of Kashgar into a
bazaar of biblical proportions.
Left: The brush and broom vendors have set up their market below
the Market Road along the the Tuman River.
Right: At the edges of the Market Ground, fresh timber is
unloaded for sale in construction or for the yurts of nomads.