Street shopping, Id Kah mosque night view, and a Tale of an Old Shoes Seller – Part 2

It’s our last evening in Kashgar, for tomorrow we’ll leave for Kuqa at 8pm Beijing time/6pm local time. It’s going to be our last visit to the night market, last visit to the evening street market, last scenery of Id Kah mosque at night, last meeting with some people we’ve encountered regularly. Time flies so fast, and while we’re regret for not staying here longer, it’s just time to move on and proceed to our next destination, hopefully equally enjoyable. Until then, we’d like to utilize the next 24 hours in here to the fullest as we dont know  if time promises us to return to here again, someday.

The street market is an everyday shopping place just like night market, and it starts late afternoon (around 4 pm local time). There’s rows of shop lots selling clothes and stuff, but nevermind that, coz there’s MORE rows of sellers selling them cheaper, on the street. At the pedestrian road, to be precise. Some has mobile stalls, but most of them just have a large spread cloth for them to sit with lots of merchandise items dumped in front of them. Mostly clothings, but there are other items like cosmetics, sunglasses, accessories like handbags and shoes as well. It’s kind of amusing to see Kashgar people are such shopping freak as well. Browsing the dresses and blouses, I do think they have a rather good sense in fashion.

What Kashgar women normally (read: must) wear – Skirts, and black stockings! If not long dresses and jubah/abaya. And they’re generally fashionable, and I guess more women wear high heels than those who don’t! They DON’T wear pants and jeans, so wearing pants in here makes me feel a little awkward in a way, and I almost wanted to buy a pair of these skirts and stockings as well just to wear in Kashgar but thinking that we dont want to fill our luggage with unnecessary items (and they’re expensive too!), the least I could do is to wrap my bum with a shirt, so it could somehow looks like as if I’m wearing skirt too (from behind).

The boys we bought our socks from :D We met them like, everyday! So today we have to say goodbye! *sob* And, I feel regret for not buying one of these Uyghur movie DVDs.  They’re so crazy about shopping! And everyday is “sale” day, how wonderful is that?

And I *have to* join the crowd too, thank you. When I made promise to Az that we would only do shopping on the last day, so here we are! I’ve got a few pairs of long skirts here. Also some leggings, coz they’re cheap and I need them alot when traveling in cold places like Xinjiang! It’s okay now, coz some of old clothes we have worn here will be disposed in Kashgar so I have a little space in my luggage!

Done with shopping, we’d like to take some proper photos of us with Id Kah mosque, which havent done it earlier. Now the tripod comes handy.

After going back to hostel to drop the stuff we purchased, we made our way to eat the BEST LAMB KEBAB IN KASHGAR, for the last time. In front of the kebab restaurant is the only naan stall that has onion naan (Az’s favorite). Here, and it’s 10 yuan per stick (big stick) while regular smaller sticks you can find everywhere are usually 1.5-2 yuan. Nevertheless, lamb kebab here is worth every single yuan! It has the biggest, softest, juiciest chunk of lambs in all Kashgar! And Az had to take a farewell photo with these wonderful kebab makers.

We passed by the old shoes seller again. It’s already late but the old man was still here selling the old shoes (actually, we haven’t seen anyone really buys his shoes, or even stops to see them). Now Az wanted to buy a pair of shoes to try the shoe shiners, and after choosing one, the old man gave a sign with hands telling 15 yuan. We gave him an ‘brow-rise’ look, thinking that he’s trying to overcharge us, coz I bought my shoes 3 days ago for only 10 yuan! We gave him a pass and wanted to proceed going to the night market, but I dont know what made us turn back and bought the shoes anyway.

Az negotiates for 10 yuan, and the old man seems desperate and hopelessly agreed with a weak smile. When we left a few steps away with the shoes, I felt so sorry with the old man and now we went back to him and paid another 5 yuan regardless he already had agreed with 10.

Now Az trying the shoe shiner! Unfortunately, the skillful lady that did magic to my shoes last time was busy with her queuing customers (yes, she’s got many loyal customers who would wait just to get her excellent service!). Az wanted to wait, but thinking we dont have time for it and there’s another shoe shiner guy sitting next to her currently free, the lady asked us to do with her colleague. Hmm but we hope the guy is good too. Well, he managed to get the dusty shoes shining black again, but we still feel it could have been done better by the hands of the lady.

We were still excited seeing the final product, and this time we wanted to go back to the old man to show off the newly polished shoes just to make him surprised! But he was not there, although his old shoes were still arranged properly on the floor, being taken care by someone else. We were upset coz of the urge to meet the old man again now. It was only less than half an hour ago that we bought shoes from him. Well, nevermind, and we said to each other “Maybe he went to buy food straight away after he sold the shoes to us”.., and we walked towards the night market.

It was when we stepped out of the subway crossing the road in front of night market, Az suddenly caught a sight of that old man, sitting at a corner of a soup stall, gobbling his meal delightfully from bowl. The sudden sight made us paused, looking at him from afar blankly. I mean, we were just talking and teasing about him a few seconds ago, and what we said was unexpectedly TRUE! He went to eat right after he got money from us.

It was then when I couldn’t hold my tears but burst there right away, at the corner of the busy night market. The feeling that I couldnt really describe how and why, but it just strike me hard, and sudden thoughts filling me,

“he’s been sitting all day waiting for someone to buy his shoes, but who would regularly buy those dirty, dusty shoes..?”

“..what if we didnt buy the shoes just now (which we almost did not), would he still be left without money and not able to buy food for today?”

“.. since we bought his shoes 3 days ago and today, were there anyone else buying the shoes in past 2 days for him to buy food? Or has he been starving since?”

We stood at the corner for a few minutes while I’m done crying at Az’s shoulder, and we could only see the old man from afar, busy with his soup, and we didnt want him to notice that we were watching him either, so we quickly left to other direction. And for a record, we never even tried the soup place that the old man was eating, it didnt look appealing.. and maybe cheap. But what if it’s all that he could afford? We have eaten lamb kebabs like mad every single day, and we forgot that there are people who need to sell old shoes just to buy a cheap bowl of food for the day.

After Maghrib prayers, we again setup the tripod at the large mosque yard to capture some night views. Id Kah mosque is surely the icon of Kashgar, and the Silk Road. Tourist come here to trace the history, but what made us fall in love with this place is definitely the people. The friendliness of the locals and unique culture that will definitely remain in our heart forever.

Until we meet again one day, Insha Allah.

Central Asia International Grand Bazaar at Kashgar

Also known as Sunday Market. Which is a confusing name, because this bazaar is actually opened everyday, not only Sunday. It’s also easily be confused with the Animal market – which is opened on Sunday. Whatever, but we visited this Kashgar bazaar in fact twice, including Saturday.

The bazaar is located not very far from North Bus station, and local bus no 20 gets you there for 1 yuan.

Although we didnt plan for shopping that much, I’m expecting it to be interesting to see this largest indoor market in Kashgar, and even some say it’s the largest in Central Asia (as the name says). It’s large indeed, and I guess we haven’t even covered the whole bazaar completely (well, we didnt really put an effort to it anyways). Maybe for those who’d like to do shopping, this place can be the ultimate destination, for mostly fabric and souvenir.

There are also food stalls nearby here, and we had a few samsa, but I have to say it’s best to eat first in Kashgar town before coming to Bazaar. One should conveniently be guided by the sign board to show location of Kashgar Bazaar, or to be safe, let the bus driver know that you’re heading to the bazaar. Ahead will be Apakh Khoja Tomb, another tourist attraction in Kashgar, which unfortunately didnt attract us enough to make a visit.

Another entrance to go inside Bazaar. it was busy with people on Friday and Saturday, and I guess it will be more on Sunday. We can’t allocate the visit on Sunday as we’re going to see the Animal market, and afternoon should be packing time to leave for Kuqa.

Lots of stalls selling dried fruits and nuts. Local’s famous pomegrenate juice. It’s pity but we never tried fresh juice in here, because the first time we asked at the night market it was 20 yuan per glass! It’s most probably the seller was trying to overcharge us (and funnily, a friend of him suddenly came saying 25 yuan =.= which we instantly refused both, thank you!). Alternatively, bottled processed pomegranate juice can easily be found in shops for only 3 yuan, and Az liked it alot.

Inside the bazaar, there are countless of shops selling clothes and fabrics. Az got a shirth with Uyghur pattern while nothing Uyghur is suitable for me (unless I want to wear those dress in mannequin!) so I’ve just got myself a couple of scarves that specifically has label ‘Made in Kashgar’ :)

Colorful fabric with striking colors, I guess they’re meant for bridal dress and decoration. Lots of prayer rugs too (people would assume most of them are made in Turkey, but China is one of the biggest producers of these too!).

Well, China is undoubtly the biggest producer of many stuff we use everyday: hand glove, cellotapes, etc and you can actually find every single item being sold in the bazaar.

And this is interesting: the wedding invitation card written in Uyghur! :D This part has shops selling soaps, shampoo, henna, things like that. And some bronze merchandise, if you like.

outside

One of many shops selling this neat colorful fabric (it has a material close to jersey) and I was told it’s 18 yuan for 3 meters during our first visit, but during 2nd visit, another seller was being very rude and saying it’s 50 yuan per meter! Not only I didnt end up buying, it spoiled my mood totally until we’re back to hostel. Like other places, Kashgar also has good and bad people doing business, so it’s best to use common sense to judge if the price is reasonable or not.

Uyghur Children

After breakfast, we were walking towards Old Town Youth Hostel in the morning when we passed by the school doing assembly. The children are singing possibly school or patriotic songs, in Chinese. All of them are looking good in tracksuit, and we are wondering if all of them are having PE lesson or today is their sports day.

  

So it’s our first fresh morning in Kashgar, being delighted by encountering some happy Uyghur children ready to pose for our camera.  We stopped by the Old Town Youth Hostel to check if we could move to there, and good news is they have empty dorm room so we can have it all for ourselves. Perfect. So we head to Eden back to check out and get our luggage.

It was almost afternoon when we walked out Eden so we’re passing by hundreds of school children walking home from the school. The kids are just a friendly bunch who would wave to stranger tourists. In fact, they’re queuing for photos! I just have to show all them here, for now wanting to let anyone down ;)

Okay, and this boy is getting way too excited when seeing himself being filmed :D I am too very excited knowing my old DVD camcorder manages to attract them quite a lot.

 

As we’re heading to the town, and they walk the opposite direction, so it was a continuous happy encounter and photo taking sessions. Within a short while we have come to learn that their tracksuit is the school uniform itself. Which looks sporty and convenient that they might only need to change T-shirts inside. While we adore the idea of having tracksuit as school uniforms, it might not be suitable to practice in hot Malaysia.

 

And we pass by the school again when we saw some little ones climbing the fence. And they seem to be playing there by their own without any adult’s monitor!

I mean, I just love to see the kids playing freely on the street by their own without a slight fear of danger. And their parents may not have problems letting them. This place seems a lot safer than other places we have lived and been. I can’t help being amazed in disbelief.

  

Az keeps on eyeing little faces around to take a snap. As we arrived in Old Town Youth Hostel, there are a little girl and her little brother playing sand hill in front of it. It reminds me a lot to the time I was a little kid too, going dirty in sand and nobody needs to care about hygienic. It was almost 3 decades ago and nowadays you hardly see children playing sand anymore. In fact, they hardly go playing outdoor anymore!

Kashgar isn’t really a remote village (it’s rather a big city with old town part being preserved, with modern facilities which some KL doesnt even have – many subways for example) yet this place remains traditional, cultural and safe. I just really can’t describe how wonderful the feelings in this place, I’m not saying KL and places in Malaysia are all bad and full of crime kidnapping children, but I believe such views of children playing outdoor, on the street without parental guide, you can no longer see back home. Ironic, isn’t it?

Anyways. I bet you see the boy’s bum ;P this recalls us to the Lhasa boy we met in the train last time, who was also wearing pant with full zipper opening. But this boy here is wearing pant with full opening without zipper! It’s common here, as the parents dont want to have a fuss over children peeing so they just let them ready to do so all time, with this kind of pants. Az recommends me to buy some pair for future. Oh well.

Agra and around

Breakfast: Rs.120

We came back from Taj Mahal around 9.30 and thought of having breakfast. There are many restaurants and cafes located in between small hotels here but it was still hard to choose. All places are quiet. We passed by this Taj Cafe that claims itself to have been recommended by Lonely Planet Book, but were not really impressed. They definitely think that by claiming it out loud that it was featured in Lonely Planet, it would attract more customers.. but we can see that it’s being overused here. In that street there are a number of restaurants displaying the same in their signboards too. On the other hands, I cannot remember our favorite Mughal Darbar restaurant in Srinagar displays something telling that they’re featured in Lonely Planet (despite they really are). Perhaps in Agra especially in this area, all restaurants look almost the same, old, small buildings and not attractive at all, so you have to verbally tell people that you’re special in order to stand out from the rest. And they dont need to know if you’re telling the truth or otherwise :P

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Heavenly Pahalgam

How to get there: Go to a taxi stand near petrol station. It’s a shared taxi, in form of Tata Sumo jeep going to Anatnag (Rs.50) it will take about one hour. In Anatnag, change another shared taxi to go Pahalgam (Rs.50) for 45 minutes ride. Same goes to way back (Pahalgam-Anatnag, Anatnag-Srinagar). Alternatively, you can always take return J&K Bus at Tourist Info Center, the same way we get to Gulmarg. But have to check first which day they run to which place (they usually rotate Gulmarg, Sonamarg and Pahalgam). But I guess shared taxi is faster with same price. Do not take Tata Sumo jeep in front of bus station, as they will be chartered for you only and you have to pay fares for whole car. 

Pahalgam is definitely my favorite place in Kashmir. Nicknamed as Switzerland of India, we were really on cloud nine when arriving in this place we almost feel as paradise of earth. Initially wanted to go by bus as we did for Gulmarg, but unfortunately when we went to the Bus Station early morning to book a ticket, they say they’re only going to Sonamarg today and Pahalgam will be tomorrow. We dont have another tomorrow to visit Pahalgam and we would skip Sonamarg over Pahalgam. So when we went out to find taxi, we found the mysterious guy again and he helped us to find our way to another taxi stand which can get us to Anatnag, and from Anatnag we can get another taxi to Pahalgam.

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