Yes, we're still "Going West," and there are a few more incredible things about our trip that we would like to share (right now, day 3!). PS: This post is going to be extremely long because of all the pictures :)
SO on our 3rd day, we went to several bazaars [markets]! They were AWESOME and unlike anything I've ever seen. The morning started with the Livestock Bazaar, which is exactly what it sounds like: a massive market with live animals. There were separate sections for the cows,
goats (they are both inside and outside of the pen where the men are standing),
camels (ok, camel singular),
and horses (though there weren't many because they're super expensive).
Each seller (read: men) unloaded his animals in the respective area while the buyers (read: men) perused the animals to pick out the best (read: fattest) ones. I took about 1,000 pictures of these interactions because it was hard to believe the sheer number of animals, let alone the way the people haggled over them. It was like traveling back hundreds of years, with the addition of motorized vehicles and Nikes.
The sheep arrived either by jumping from a truck
or by net:
Some donkeys were hungry
while others just wanted their mamas.
A lot of young boys were helping out their relatives as well. Adam and I couldn't believe this kid, who was handling the donkey like a pro:
We basically left the livestock bazaar in awe of the way these traditions have been upheld in this region...and stinking of mud/livestock/sweat. And it was only 10am.
We headed to the tomb of Abakh Khoja, which looks like a large mosque and cemetery. Inside the "mosque" is a larger cemetery for his immediate family, while the outside cemetery is for the next 5 generations. (I got this info from Wikipedia...because I looked at the picture, looked at Adam, and said "and what exactly was this again?") Anywho, it was massive:
...and finally a picture of us! (This one's for you, Cathy!)
After trying to maneuver through a one-way dirt road packed with donkey carts, taxis, and tour buses, we finally made it to the the Handicraft Bazaar, which was more like a rug and jewelry factory. We watched women weave intricate silk rugs, which is a veeeery meticulous process.
Xinjiang was once an integral part of the Silk Road and is still known across China for its silk production, so Adam and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to contribute to the Chinese economy (after fierce negotiations on Adam's part, of course!). Courtney is modeling our contribution in our living room:
We are so happy with this beautiful silk rug! It took 10 months to weave by hand (4 ft x 6 ft), so we will be taking good care of this puppy ;) The best part? It fits in Adam's duffel bag, so there will be no problem getting it home!
We were so thrilled with our big purchase that we bypassed the rest of the Handicraft Market in favor of the BIG Sunday Bazaar. You could get anything from appliances (washing machine anyone?) to carpets to shoes to bananas at this place. It was huuuuge and crowded. I love this picture of the dried fruits and veggies:
Some of the fashion in Xinjiang (do the dresses on the right remind you of a certain hotel room...?)
Totally wish I had bought these shoes when I had the chance:
We did make some great purchases and were glad that Akpar helped with the negotiating process. Many people had been commenting that Adam looked Uygher, so Akpar bought him a Uygher hat! I just tried on some crazy winter hats for fun:
I was able to get warm winter gloves, thankfully, because they came in handy in the mountains the following night (stay tuned for "Going West: Yurt Style"). We also bought 2 beautiful vases and an elephant; they are made of steel and were hand-carved and painted in Pakistan. Here they are in our apartment:
Our last outing for the afternoon was to Old Town Kashgar and the Id Kah Mosque, the largest mosque in China.
Old town was like any good ol' American city. There was construction,
men driving through town,
and a group of kids gathered around a TV, laughing hysterically (bottom left).
After lots of walking, we were pretty much exhausted and sat down outside of a tchotchke store to rest. (Adam probably wanted to go in, but held back after a day of seeing so many tchotchkes!)
We went back to the hotel to rest before dinner at the Chinese night market (pretty much a scaled-down, less crowded version of the Uygher market, with beer and pork instead of water and lamb).
Much like you probably feel after reading this book of a post, we were exhausted and collapsed after another wonderful day in Xinjiang province.