Urumqi: Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Museum, Mini Great Wall, and Night Market

Side Note: finally publishing a long – very long – pending post. Has it been a year? Or more? Well, a lazy post as it seems, apart from having this on hiatus for ages, I havent really got much exciting to tell about China especially episodes after we left Kashgar. Urumqi and afterwards were pretty ordinary, I tell ya. 

We changed our mind with the plan to visit Nanshan pasture, as I dont know why, after the overrated Tianchi, we can assume that tourist places in Urumqi are expected to be, well, very touristy. Plus we have had a look photos by Mischa and Hasnat at Nanshan and it looks more like a forest park with some ladder rivers than a greeny grassfield like I had seen on internet. Probably the grassfield will appear after summer, and certainly not now. Therefore, today we decided to visit the museum and sightseeing Urumqi, and collect our Xian – Chengdu train ticket which has been booked by Derek online. We can collect it in Xian, but thinking that we only have one full day in Xian and its train station is probably larger and busier than Urumqi, plus we have a few hours to kill here, so we’d go to Urumqi train station.

Mischa cooked us very nice fried cabbage for breakfast. Last night we went to walk to buy some food in a shop inside the campus and got ourselves some bowls of Xinjiang instant noodles and 3-in-1 Nescafe (China version!), that we love alot! And yes, by almost 2 weeks being in China, we seem to have mastered the skill of using chopstick ;)

Later Mischa walked us to the bus station again in front of the university campus gate. He taught us which bus to take also important words Bowuguan (Museum) and Houce zan (train station) to tell the bus driver as alert.

This place is Russian area, where you can see rows of shoplots with Russian script signboards. Soon the bus arrived and we waved Mischa goodbye and started our day exploring Urumqi!

First we went to Urumqi museum. Entrance is free, which is good. Forgot to take picture of the building though. The museum is all about Xinjiang and Silk Road, I can say a really comprehensive one.

Scripts and sculptures. Pictures of Idkah mosque – which made us want to point out loud “I was here!” :) Oh and we didnt visit the Apakh Khoja tomb though. Too busy eating kebab lamb in Kashgar. Also there’s a model of Jiaohe ruins in Turpan, Kilgiz Buddha caves in Turpan, and China map.

I love this! Sculptures of people wearing Xinjiang ethnic costumes. A real bunch of colorful mix!

Ethnic caps (We recognize the common Uyghur green cap. And Mischa gave Az one Kazakh cap. How about the lot rest?), Kazakh ethnic, Hui ethnic, Kyrgyz ethnic, Russian ethnic. We aren’t really fans of musuems but this Urumqi museum is well worth a visit. It’s like a quick way to learn about Xinjiang and its people and culture in one place.

After museum we went to the train station. It was not good – long queues although for foreign counter (it seems they’re mixed) and we spent rather long there and Az missed Friday prayer – which is pity. We had lunch at KFC (which is lame, but many days eating lamb makes you sometimes want to try the “rare” chicken ;p) and later walked around main bazaar area to find mosque.

This mosque is the nearest to Bazaar. It’s currently under renovation so people proceed to basement area for prayers.   As usual female area is not provided so I just made do with using a space near the hallway. While we’re in the bus going back to Xinjiang uni, Az spot his name at some signboard! :)

We called up Hasnat to meet us at Xinjiang uni and he brought us to the BRT station where this park is located. This lake is man made!

And here we saw the Great wall! In Urumqi! :D

You can actually go up walking on the “Great wall” but the entrance to it was already closed by the time we arrived.

On the way back to Mischa’s house, we passed by the Grand Bazaar again but this time we spot some crowds nearby. Night market is happening!

Got excited seeing these weird sheep heads again – after Kashgar – although we decided NOT to try this time :P Typical dumplings and sausage, but we still go for lamb kebabs, this could be the last Kebab after we leave Xinjiang! *sob!*

Claypot noodles on variety. I had mine, tasting somewhat different than usual soup noodle I had tasted. Theres some features in it probably seaweed or something but when you much it it feels like munching rubbers!

We came home to find out Mischa was having a guest. The friend is also Kazakh Chinese, and works in Kazakhstan. We had a quick chat that night, which is our final night in Urumqi before leaving the next day for Xian. Video below captures our food hunting at night market, among others ;)

Train from (dusty) Kuqa to Urumqi

The next morning, we woke up in the sappy hotel room seeing this view! *not amused*.. although, good news is the weather seems to have improved a little and we’re so in hope that our train will NOT be cancelled again today!

After long sleep and intense shower, we checked-out Traffic Hotel at 1pm Beijing time (11am local time), and headed straight away to Ihsan Rstaurant (again!), and it’s only now we realized that the restaurant was actually located just across the road from Traffic Hotel/ Bus station. The waitress lady yesterday was surprised to see us again (as it had been understood to here that we were leaving yesterday) and it was rather difficult to explain with sign language – all the hassle we had yesterday – and I didnt know how we managed it, probably showing her our new train ticket – for Urumqi this evening – would work. It was lunch time at Ihsan restaurant (unlike yesterday) so they started having lamb kebab!

The waitress lady seems to know us well at having trouble ordering food =.= so she instantly showed us some food she was bringing from kitchen – that people in other table had ordered – as if asking “would you like to try something like these too?” , which is, yes, perfect! The noodle with veggie+meat gravy is “Yirlik Alahida Laghman”,  12 yuan, and the fried pasta is “Ding Ding Souman”, 10 yuan. Should I say these are the most marvelous food we have ever had in Xinjiang other than lamb kebab? Probably we didnt get to eat in proper restaurant like this in Kashgar because street food were already more than enough to feed us, but here in Ihsan Restaurant, they’re surprisingly affordable yet delicious!

And that’s the picture of Az with the chef! :) We got to spend hours in the restaurant killing time until our train time, as we didnt plan to walk anywhere anymore today. The waitress lady came to us many times giving the best service (I asked some sugar to put in the chinese tea – which of course was weird to their sugarless-tea culture, and of all words I could think of, finally ‘sakar’ – sugar in Arabic, happens to give her the best hint!).

She was trying to ask if we had a baby, and then telling that she has one of 2-months and showed us a photo of her with husband and baby. And when we showed us our Marriage card (issued in Kelantan) we were amused that she could read Jawi (old Malay script using Arabic alphabet) on the card saying “Majlis Agama Islam Kelantan” fluently. Their marriage cert in China on the other hand, is in a form of booklet like passport, and she showed us hers too.

The waitress lady giving her welcome greetings, all the way in Kuqa!

It was around 2pm local time when we left Ihsan restaurant, but before that, we asked to do jama prayer there, so the waitress lady gave us to use their common room. Not the most convenient because it’s next to kitchen and their prayer place is also like a storage room. But we got prepared in case it would be crowded in Train station today and would be awkward to do prayer in waiting lounge like yesterday.

Anyhow. Our Kuqa stop might have been pointless in a way that we didnt really go to visit anything, not even the market or mosque, but mostly wasting time in railway station, Ihsan Restaurant and Traffic Hotel, but that’s our version of Kuqa story!

Arriving at railway station, it was crowded as expected, because I guess many people were also stranded like us yesterday after train cancelled, PLUS many groups who were supposed to be flying (yes, Kuqa has an airport) couldnt proceed because flights might still not be running thanks to bad weather, and had to change to riding trains last minute.

At the platform we met a group of German travelers with a Chinese tour guide, they have just done desert trip in Korla and heading to Turpan.

Watch the video to see our double-decker train to Urumqi! I have read before that Xinjiang has double decker trains but least we expected that we got to ride one!

This is our third train, and the only soft sleeper (323 yuan, upper berth). Earlier, we had hard sleeper for route Chengdu- Lanzhou and Lanzhou-Urumqi, which was perfect either. The soft-sleeper is a little luxury, it’s in closed cabin it even has this silk-road theme curtain! We had upper berth both, and luckily the lower berth passenger only came in a couple of hours after Kuqa, so until then, we had all the cabin for ourselves! :) Like usual, we like to walk around to other coach and now see the interior of the double-decker car! The train will take 18 hours to reach Urumqi (880km)

Goodbye Kashgar, and Sleeper Bus to Kuqa

After we’re done packing and checking out hostel, we ran into this barber across the road. The guy has been waving at us from afar every time we passed by, so Az said that he *must* get a trim on our last day here. The moment we entered and gave salam, the barber immediately pointed at the huge world map on his wall as if asking where we’re from. It’s so funny, this so-called introduction. And what’s more intresting, on the map (I’m not too sure if it’s Uyghur or Arabic written), it even has detail points for our little hometowns, Kota Bharu and Malacca! :)

Now please watch the barber in action.. yes, finally a video!

Az managed to pray Zuhur at the Id Kah mosque before we left, and surprisingly, we came across Elvis again, on our last day! (read here how he saved us on our very first day in Kashgar). We said goodbye to him and he wished us best in our journey ahead, and plus, asked to pray for him in finding a wife! (you may contact him if interested. Hint: he’s featured in Lonely Planet book :P) This is the restaurant near Id Kah mosque we haven’t been in, it doesn’t look the prettiest and cleanest restaurant from outside but we can see lots of people inside so I guess it must be quite special. We decided to give it a try.

What attracted us is the lamb meat are marinated with spice, unlike our regular lamb kebabs that are usually best grilled as it is (original flavor). And it turns out our last lamb kebab in Kashgar taste the most splendid! This salty-spiced lamb kebab is 3 yuan per stick, although you may have to wait longer than usual (thanks to queuing customers).

We arrived at the bus terminal 1 hour before departure and surprisingly met William buying ticket for his journey tomorrow (also for Kuqa!). He was the fellow traveler from hostel that asked our advice for Karakul Lake, which he was heading to the day after we had returned to Kashgar, and now he told us his version of Karakul Lake story: He missed to stop at Karakul becuase he was asleep on the bus, and ended up in Tashkurgan! He even clumsily forgot the name of the lake when he wanted to head back to Karakul by hitch-hiking. We then exchanged showing photos we had taken in Karakul, and our rest of plans.He’s heading to Kuqa tomorrow, and proceed to Urumqi then hopping into bordering Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgysztan etc). I so wish that we had that much time and money to travel there as well since we’re already near.. *sigh*

This is our sleeper bus for Kuqa! And notice that drivers’ name and photos displayed at the windscreen! The bus journey from Kashgar to Kuqa (700km) will take around 14 hours (!) and we got upper berth (157 yuan) and lower berth (172 yuan) each. One of the main reasons we want to stop in Kuqa, apart from dividing 24 hour train journey into half and choose to travel at night only, is because we want to ride this sleeper bus for the first and only time! Despite that we’re not expecting much what to see in Kuqa (LP book describes it as a “sleepy town”) and travelers who stops in Kuqa usually want to visit Kizil Thousand Buddha Cave, 70km away from Kuqa town – which we’re not going, so we’re thinking to only waste time walking around town and see the mosque, before continuing train ride to Turpan at night.

We put our big luggage inside the bus compartment underneath, and both our shoes are tied to them (Az suggested us to wear crocs only while traveling in bus to ease the possibly need to take off shoes). I didnt like the idea of leaving our shoes attached to luggage, so I took them to bring inside the bus, and I properly put them underneath my berth. (You have to take off shoes inside the bus). The bus beddings are rather comfortable, but the sheets don’t seem to be washed for a while =.= And get ready to endure the smell of socks throughout the journey!

The bus departed late than scheduled by one hour, which we instantly fell asleep after a while. We were apparently the only foreigners on board.

It was around 4am when the bus made a stop for supper and toilet break somewhere near the highway. I dont know where this place could be, but it was quiet and at this hour cold wind was blowing hard. Some passengers stayed in bus while others were probably sitting here having a cup of hot tea. And yes, that’s our bus driver having a cigarette break!

We wanted to find somewhere we could do jama prayer and so we stepped further to nearby restaurant. Only using body language, we managed to get the permission and the restaurant owner delightfully brought us to a corner near the kitchen inside which is supposed to be their prayer place, complete with prayer rug.

After we’re done, we’d like to thank them by ordering some food in their restaurant. It helped that they have big menu with pictures on the wall so we could simply choose what we’d like. This is lamb soup eaten with rock-hard bread, and when I gave a sign that the bread was too hard to bite, the restaurant owner gave the instruction how to properly eat this thing: you have to break the bread into smaller pieces INTO the soup, so they’ll get soft! They seem to be overwhelmed by our sudden appearance at this odd hour, and despite the language barrier, we felt so welcome by their friendliness and hospitality!

The bus continued the journey for a few more hours and when we woke up, it was already bright. It was around 10am when we arrived in Kuqa, and to our shock, the town was in a heavy haze.

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.

Old City of Kashgar

Since we *have to* stick to original plan, on Saturday morning, we made our way to the bus station to buy ticket for Kuqa. Kashgar has 2 bus stations: North (going to Urumqi, Kuqa, Osh in Kyrgyzstan etc) and South (to Karakul-Tashkurgan, Sost in Pakistan etc) so this is our first time visiting the North bus station. On map, it looks rather far, but in the fresh morning, we took a walk by the town’s excellent pedestrian way, crossing over bridge and subways, within 20 minutes or so we’re almost there. But have to stop at this shop selling fried pastry that similar to ‘charkuay’ in my hometown :D

We had our breakfast there, and this restaurant seems popular with its fresh milk (coz you can see at every table, every single customer has one mug of fresh milk in front of them). Az gets a mug, but I am not a milk drinker, so I took out my Milo sachet and pour into the milk and now it taste better :)

At the bus station, ticket purchase was done smoothly since we just wrote down our destination, date and time to show to the officer. Our bus will be at 8pm tomorrow (Beijing time).

Done with the ticket, we’re now walking around old houses nearby, and it’s time to explore the old city of Kashgar. One can be confused with the term “old city/old town” in Kashgar and their locations (me included!). As a matter of fact there are many old cities in entire Kashgar, because they’re afterall homes to many locals since hundreds years ago, and many of them are still living in these places, while some parts have been commercialized into tourist attraction.

When we’re visiting the old city, it’s expected to see many houses nestled in it, built with mud brick, having small alleys to go inside and out. The border of history and civilization. While (some of) the old cities are still preserved, its surrounding is now well developed being located in the center of Kashgar and accessible by major roads. If you see the old city like this, you’ll be wondering “where’s the entrance?”

There it is, the entrance, with neatly constructed high stair. Az says there must be regular entrance for locals who live inside, but I insist that it’s located up high and I dont see any other stair except this one. And we have to buy tickets; for 30 yuan. ( which I only learned later after we’re back, there ARE other ways to enter the old city NOT through this tourist way! We could have saved 60 yuan if I listened to Az T_T and to make it sound a silly mistake some more, it’s actually stated in the LP book but I seem to have taken it for granted and not reading them well particularly about the old city visit >.<)

So this is the tourist entrance, you’ll be guided with small sign board telling you to “Go this way for Route A”, or “Start here for Route B”.. When we’re about to enter, a group of Chinese tourists just arrived by a mini van, and one lady, complete with Uyghur dressing and portable microphone was ready to guide them walking inside the old city.

But seriously, with a microphone?? =.= I fear that the sound will spoil our quiet moments here (and what about the neighborhood?), so I walked towards faster, as if running away from them. It didnt help though, coz once they’re started, the amplified sound by the microphone seems to be heard loud enough ALL over this place! >.<  who can enjoy the serene of the historic neighborhood with disturbing Chinese speech in the air?

We walked towards nevertheless, to different route than theirs, and now we decided to walk even more slowly, letting them to finish off first and we’ll continue enjoying the walk. Taking different small path and junction towards different alleys just randomly, we’ll get to see aging doors belong to old houses inside the neighborhood, the houses dont have physical shape of house, rather it’s partitions divided inside the walls with a door (even they have house number!), you can guess how the structure is like.

And every time we’ll wonder if people still reside inside. Yes, sometimes I get to peek into slightly opened door and see a lively house compound inside. We feel like so much visiting the family, but at the bottom of my heart somehow managed to guess what they feel towards tourist. I mean, their neighborhood is being promoted as tourist place and it should be more than enough for them to see yet another tourist invading their home area. Anyhow. It’s really amazing to know Uyghur people have lived in here for more than 400 years, and the architecture wih old technology, despite being built of mud brick and timber, managed to survive for such a long time! Walls were made of mud. And, they actually managed to build houses of several storeys using only mud bricks and timber!

We came across an entrance that looks like a mosque. Unfortunately it’s closed, otherwise we’d like to go and see how it looks inside.

And what makes it interesting is the narrow passages in between walls that connect a part to another. It’s almost like a maze and you can simply get lost in the middle of it. I’m so overwhelmed with every angle we see that brings us time-travel to many hundred years back.

Tracing a small alley, we caught a sight of an opened door, but after getting near, it turns out to be a souvenir shop.

Not one, but several  houses have been made into tourist traps and the locals are happy to sell their souvenir like fabrics, jewelry and leathers. I just made a quick stop browsing the item and think it should be cheaper to buy these items in regular market (i.e. not tourist trap like this). And, we encountered the Chinese tourist group again at this house having a live dancing performance. We were there for a few minutes then left.

Walking towards, we no longer can remember from which way we came, but it doesn’t matter anymore since it’s best to just continue walking mindlessly inside the “maze”. And after the tourist group left, it feels much better to explore this place at its silence.

Little children that ‘accompanied’ us walking around their neighborhood :)

We passed by a donkey cart and were wondering why the donkey’s eyes being wrapped off. We end up making our own assumption that the owner fears that the donkey gets confused with the ‘maze’ alley and avoid it from looking at the road. Which I believe it’s a bad assumption :P

Before we arrived to Kashgar, I have read from many sources on internet that since recent years, Chinese Government is in the middle of doing reconstruction of the old city (read: demolish, and build their version of new buildings). The reason is, the they say the old city is overpopulated, very old, unsafe and fragile if earth quake happens thanks to being made of mud bricks. Despite the fact that Uyghurs have been living here safely for many hundreds years! And they believe they will always be. While the government says it’s to bring development to Kashgar people, it’s apparently trying to destruct the heritage of Uyghur culture. Plus, I believe nobody comes to Kashgar to see new buildings and modern structure, no? Which is sad, and yes, we have come across many parts that are already torn down, while others seem to have been dusty construction sites.

We spent here for around 2 hours and slowly we’re trying to find a way out, although it seems difficult!

We ended up at the edge of the village (because we could see bright sky ahead and a glimpse of tall electric tower, so it’s probably the main road…

But it’s not, remember we’re at a higher place? And there’s still wall and you have to get down from here to get to main road. Can you guess how old this mud wall could be?

So we went around to trace down the entrance again, and finally managed it. We walk along the main road to see the old city from outside.

The old city of Kashgar – with uncertain future and no promise that they will still be standing here for several years to come.. partially cleared old city. And now do you see what I see? I realized that we could have gone inside the old city from here (without paying 30 yuan!! =.=). And one remark by Az that makes me feel bad for the rest of the day: “I’ve told you!!”. *sigh*

When we’re about to cross the street to find our way back, a couple of old men greeted us (maybe thinking Az was Uyghur??) and we happily asked to take a photo. Nearby them, some little children doing their school homework.