Thursday, September 5, 2013

Silk Road Part 1: Urumqi & Kashgar

On August 10 we flew from Bejing to Urumqi to start our Silk Road Tour. After doing a good amount (well, maybe not enough) research in June, we decided to book our visit to the Xinjiang province along the silk road through a tour group (Travel China Guide). Overall the things we saw were really cool but it definitely was NOT worth what we paid. Lesson learned - paying more in China doesn't necessarily give you better service or a better experience.

Within the Xinjian province, which is actually an autonomous region, the majority (but minority) of the people are Uygurs. Let's just say we found it interesting that this area is part of China. Paul will talk more about this in his country review...

Paul is assimilating

We've arrived in Urumqi

Yeah, this is pretty much all we saw - terrible tour guide only dropped us off at the hotel

But at least we found this cheesy advertisement

The next morning (early) we took a flight to Kashgar

Paul wanted a cup of coffee...he's not happy this terrible cup of coffee that cost 10USD

Kashgar was our favorite city on the tour and I think it was definitely because we had a better tour guide there but also because we felt like we experienced the local culture. Our first stop was the Sunday Animal Market.

Entrance to the market

Looking to sell his sheep

The animal market was very crowded

This cow didn't want to go

Checking out the goods

A deal is being made here


I like that goat

Buyers need to check the goats out

I'm not sure what's going on with their butts but baby got back! 

Herding the sheep

There was also an area to make donkey deals

And of course, you have to wear you Sunday best..heels at the Animal Market is a must!

Folks discussing the sale of a donkey

Locals checking things out

Another view of the market

Another local dragging her sheep along

I like this guy's beard


This guy saw me taking his photo and asked to see it. He gave it a thumbs up.

It's pretty hectic, if you can't tell

Cows in the background

Another deal being made

They sell meat here too

And grains

And watermelon

And seeds

Leaving the market with goods (and baby) in tow

After lunch, we headed to the main Kashgar Bazaar. It used to only be on Sundays but it got so big, this market is open everyday. The animal market used to be held here too but they split them up after both got too busy.

Kashgar Western and Central Asian Bazaar for International Trade

Yes, we headed straight for the "tourist souvenirs" section

There was really too many things to look at

We didn't buy anything

Even though the dried fruits and nuts looked good

These were some type of dried flowers for tea

More clothes

It was everywhere

You could literally buy anything here...except maybe a burrito - which I have been craving

Shoes or boots?

Outside the market are little alleys where the locals sell food.

This is some type of sweet iced drink

Some bread

This is a tool used to make designs on naan before it goes in the oven

This lady made them and was in the middle of making a sale

We then headed to Abakh Khoja Tomb, the burial ground for the 17th centural great Islamic missionary of the Kashgar area and his descendants, totaling about 72 people. The "fragrant concubine" better known as Xiang Fei of the Qing Dynasty was supposedly also buried here although this is widely disputed by many archaeologists and Chinese people. They believe that she was buried somewhere closer to Beijing.


Close up of the entrance 

Entering the area of the tomb

Love the worn doors

This is the actual building with the tombs of Abakh Khoja and Xiang Fei inside

This  photo gives a little perspective as to how high this building is

This is the door to the actual tomb

Here is a panoramic view

Jujube tree - primarily used for a shade tree that also bears fruit

Friday mosque built in 1873

Mulberry trees


I really enjoyed our next stop, a walk through Old Town.

The start of old town

Locals selling pottery

These are pee pipes - used for baby girls or boys while they sleep in their crib

My obsession with doors really came into play here

Locals riding in a scooter taxi

Another cool door

Yes, more doors

Making naan

Remember the device I mentioned above that the lady was selling? That's how the designs/impressions are made!

Then they get slapped into the oven

Until they are ready to eat!

Here's the storefront

Local kids walking in the neighborhood

I really enjoyed taking photos of Old Town - here are a few more snapshots.

After walking through Old Town, we ended up right by Id Kah Mosque which was built in 1442. It is the largest Islamic mosque in the Xinjian Uygur autonomous region (and in China).

Id Kah Mosque

Door of Id Kah Mosque

The next day on August 12, we visited another market in Opal. This one was much smaller and was a combination of the animal market and regular market.

View of Kashgar (including old town) from our hotel room

Before heading to the Opal Market, I snapped a few pics of this Mao statue - this is the largest Mao statue in China!


More business deals

Check out the fruit area

Local kid hanging out

Waiting to be bought

Hand shake = deal made

He's picking the sheep he wants to give to the buyer

Close up of one of the poor sheep

This kid was helping his dad out

Even though it's Monday, it's market day so you got to wear those heels!

Khazak man (our guide said he could tell by the hat he was wearing)

Making polo (Uygur fried rice)

Local kid just hanging out

Sharpening knives is his job

I wouldn't mess with him


Local kids playing with a foreigner's iPad

This kid was afraid of Paul...he literally ran and hid from him.

Despite the many pictures of naan I took, we did not buy any

The only redeeming quality of the tour was our great tour guide, Mohammed!


  1. I so, so love reading these posts, you guys. The photos are great and the captions hilarious. But this set includes a photo that is making me beam just remembering it -- the boys looking at Paul's iPad. Something about that just grabs my heart (in a good way) today. Thank you for that!

    1. Hi Jane! So great to hear from you. I'm a bit behind in my posts but I'm hoping to catch up in the next week or so - our visit to Kashgar already seems like so long ago. The iPad actually wasn't Paul's - it was another tourist showing the kids a game or video. I really liked the looks on their faces. Hope you are doing well. Keep in touch!

  2. Thanks for sharing, Christine and Paul! We've been following and cracking up at your commented observations. All the pictures have been really beautiful. These in particular are really lovely. Love, Nancy and John.

    1. Hey guys! Good to hear from you and glad you're still following us. We really enjoyed Kashgar and am glad that you enjoyed it through our pictures as well. Miss you guys!

  3. These pictures are captivating! Christine, your photography is amazing. I particularly love the knife sharpener. The glint in his eye is as sharp as the glint of his blade. So perfect.

    1. Thanks Heather! Taking photos have been a lot of fun although for every one that you see posted, I have like 10...


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