It was beautiful! Actually refreshing after trekking through the desert the night before and having no idea what it looked like! A few more pics...
Both of us were slightly surprised that the camels hadn't wandered off in the middle of the night, until we saw the sand-filled canvas bags to which they were tied. The locals clearly know what they're doing :) They slept next to the campfire, in dug-out/blanket-covered holes in the sand:
We ate some fruit and packed up the camels for the ride back. Before packing up, we had to take a few pictures, of course! As I was posing between the 2, my camel decided to get a little frisky...Adam LOVED that he caught it on film!!!!! He looked at that picture and laughed for the rest of the trip...
...but I got my revenge! His camel was huge, so it had to kneel down for Adam to mount it. The first try, as soon as he stretched his leg and was halfway up, it suddenly stood up. We all know how graceful Adam is...so imagine him sliding off a camel like sack of potatoes. I was DYING with laughter and couldn't get my camera out in time to document the moment. I was sad...until THE SAME THING HAPPENED AGAIN!! It was total deja vu--camel kneeling, Adam stretching, camel standing, Adam sliding down the 8 foot tall animal to splat in the sand. Luckily I caught it this time. All I can say is karma's a bitch!
Needless to say, it was an exciting morning in the middle of nowhere, China. Once we were finally on the camels, we made it back to meet the car and driver pretty easily. We had breakfast in the same town we had visited the day before (with the awesome bazaar!). The tea at the restaurant was so delicious that Adam and I probably drank a gallon of it by ourselves. The driver thought it was pretty funny, and he went to the bazaar and figured out what it was so we could buy it. This is the driver (2nd from left), our guide (far right), and the men selling tea, haggling over prices and amounts:
After breakfast, we pretty much drove all the way back to Kashgar. The drive was interesting for a bit (watching out for donkeys!), but eventually it was just miles upon miles on the same long stretch of empty road. We were both snoozing when the car stopped because apparently the empty road area is famous for sweet green peaches? Squatting on 3 or 4 blankets were several men and boys with boxes of peaches and a some pomegranates. Oh, China. It seemed incredibly random but they were absolutely delicious! (This is when we decided that this was the type of "authentic" tour that could not have been had with a Chinese tour company).
With full bellies, we made it back to Kashgar and settled into our hotel room to rest. We learned that typical Ughyer decor is brightly colored and ornate. (PS: Ughyer is the Muslim minority ethnic group in China that populates Xinjiang province. They have their own language that uses the Arabic alphabet, but most people also speak Chinese because that is what they use in school). Anyway, this is our lovely hotel room:
That night, we met Akpar and went to the Ughyer night market for dinner. It was a crowded, chaotic, exhilarating mass of food, people, smells, tchotchkes, and anything else you can think of! Adam picked our first taste, thinking it was safe: a chicken kebab. After getting 2, before biting into them, he made the mistake of asking Akpar what we were eating. The answer: lamb's heart. By that point, we were in too deep and had to eat them. The flavor was that of any kebab: barbeque-esque; and the consistency reminded me of soft chopped liver. Glad I tried it, but that was a one-time thing.
We bypassed the goat heads and lamb stomachs for something safer: noodles. Akpar did get goat in his noodles, so we tried it. Tastes like...chicken?
After wandering around the market for a bit longer, we went to a large lake in the city center.
The center is modeled from the Sydney Opera House. Typical China; it is beautiful and picturesque and all lit up on the outside, but inside, it is completely unfinished.
We took many pictures, walked around, and enjoyed seeing Kashgar at night. We had to rest up though, because the following day is well-known throughout the city: the Sunday Bazaar!