Between Kashgar and Hotan there are several “Oasis cities”, and there is also a train that links these two cities. After Hotan, the true journey starts.
So, the question is: should we stop in these Oasis Cities, that Kini and Peter visited back in July 1939?. If we want to follow their steps, of course, we need to stop there. Finally, the theme of the journey is “on the steps of Ella and Peter”. We already do the trip backwards, from West to East, should we continue skipping historical cities, cities that were the melting pot of cultures, the places were caravans from India to China came and went?
But, from the other side.. should we stop, if there is nothing interesting to see in there, simply because “Ella slept there”?.
Then, I went to the sources. And this is what I found
a blogger says:
“The towns of southern Xinjiang are a thing of themselves. Unlike Kashgar. Very Uighur, very old, tradition seeping from the very trees. The donkey cart to taxi ratio in the outskirts of Kargilik was about 2:1. Donkeys, horses, street stalls full of smoked meat, pilaf and fruit piling over dusty streets in the brown-black of early evening.”
This blogger says, between lines, that really Kashgar is more a Chinese city than a Uighur one.
“The first stop was Yengisar; essentially a one road town. The only thing we could see was an array of knife shops along the highway, for which the town is famous. The knives were actually quite nice, with inlaid handles of bone, wood, and metal and carvings of Uighur or Chinese script or dragons along the blades. Next stop was Yarkand for lunch”
To visit a one road town and knife manufacturing is not of great interest.
“Kargilik is of importance to travelers as the springboard to the fantastically remote HWY 219, the Xinjiang-Tibet Highway (…) The main attraction in town is the 15th-century Friday Mosque and the surrounding adobe-walled back-streets of the Old Town”
Friday Mosque … here it is, At left:
This may be very cultural, very historical, very important, but.. should we stop for one day to see this?
and comments in different blogs are similar (links are at the end of the blog)
So, adding this to the Uighur unrest “It is best to check conditions in Kashgar before heading out there” (Lonely Planet, Xinjiang guide), it makes me think about the aim of the journey, which is not visiting cities, and following the “must see” signs, but the journey by itself.
I want to become fascinated by thee solitude of Deserts, and enthralled the hectic pace and odors of the markets. And, if, on my trip, I am able to capture the moment of the smile of a couple, or the ambiance of a bar in a dusty mining city, this is what I look for
And if I skip the Jama Mashid… well, let it be.
Photo Credits: Bazaar and Karghilik Mosque (from Internet)
Bar in Copiapó (Chile), and sad couple in Plaza del Zocalo (Ciudad de Mexico): Author
Links to blogs
Blog from an Expat in Urumqi: Uighur Tensions in Xinjiang
A trip on the Southern Silk Road