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.

A Tale of an Old Shoes Seller – Part 1

I just have to document a story about a particular old man we met in Kashgar. He’s very old and it’s clearly seen by deep wrinkles, wearing worn clothes, and with big hat, he’s regularly found sitting at the mosque yard by late afternoon selling old shoes. We have come across alot of people in Kashgar and some of them happen to leave a memorable mark in our heart and mind. This old man is included.

After a rest and intense shower and charging camera, we left the hostel to walk around town and find lunch. For the record, we realized that we hadn’t had shower since moving to the hostel, which was a day before we went to Karakul, so do the maths! Blame the weather too being too cold in the morning and at night and with us busy exploring Kashgar during day time, getting shower doesnt come as important anymore :P So when we’re back to hostel during afternoon now it seems the appropriate time to get clean and healthy again.

As usual when we walk across the mosque yard we’ll be passing by the row of shoe shiners busy polishing customers’ shoes. We stopped for a few minutes to watch as if it’s something really amusing to our interest. Maybe it is! Az says we have to try it out once.

And this time it seems our wish has instantly come true, coz when we left the shoe shiners a few steps ahead, we saw an old man selling used leather shoes (the old man in the middle, that is!). I caught a sight of a beige-colored pair and thought they should be women shoes (probably the only among all men shoes) and spontaneously pointed “I want that shoes!”. After seeing the size is okay and being told the price is only 10 yuan, I didnt think any further. We then cheerfully made our way back to the shoe shiners just to test them with this newly bought shoes!

There’s this gypsy-looking woman caught our attention for looking so skillful and quick dealing with her customer. I show her the shoes and it’s understood to her that I need a polish. So I sit down comfortably and let her do the magic to my worn leather shoes.

The cleaning-polish only took 5 minutes, for 5 yuan. The shoes are now clean again, but the woman doesnt seem satisfied with her work because dark weary marks seen clearer on a bright-colored leather like beige shoes which polishing alone wont get rid of the stains. She gave a sign suggesting to paint the shoes black, which we didn’t understand at first and refused, but she managed to convince us well that shoes will look better and the paint won’t run. She would do it for another 15 yuan, and thinking that our initial reason of buying the 10-yuan old shoes in the first place was only to try out the shoe shiner, I guess it wont give harm if they get worse anyway.

So the real magic begins! The woman starts putting a generous amount of black paint, not one but from many different bottles and polish them off with another layers of chemical liquids (many types!) which I guess to set the black paint at place. Then she continued putting some more polish (different colors) paste and brush the shoes to shine. It was almost 30 minutes of suspense anticipating the final product of this make over. We cant help but amazed that the whole procedure was done very carefully, comprehensive without any mistake. So ta-da! My old worn beige shoes are now transformed into a pair of shining new black shoes! :D

We spent the rest of the day walking by the small roads and explore other corner of the old part, before heading to the night market. And seeing how locals make a living, right at the street. Uyghur people are blessed with craftsmanship and it’s well preserved in their culture. At the street, we get to see people actually making Tembur body.

We have earlier come across traditional instrument shop where we got to watch a live play, this is yet another, although it seems more a souvenir shop. The significant ones should be the “Tembur”, the Uyghur sitar.