Our flight to Kashgar is today, though it has been delayed by an hour. We’re trying to find something to do in the meantime.
We are now in Urumqi. We got here from Turpan via a 3-hour bus ride. It is a pretty large urban city (population 6 million); not the desert outpost I was expecting.
A look at Urumqi
When we got here, we went to a pretty park and then ate lunch. I really liked the food.
Then we went to a museum of ancient relics and corpses. Interesting stuff. I asked one of the museum guides "这是什么？" ("What's this?") about something and she went into an explanation of crazy detail. I didn't understand much; she must have thought I was fluent.
We ended up visiting a bazaar to kill time. A lot of stands were run by Caucasians. I found their faces very strange.
Now, I am in Kashgar. It is about 75% Uygur and 24% Han. In Uygur language, Kashgar means “jade city.” It is very Islamic here. I have not seen much yet as we arrived late.
Our hotel is pretty crappy. Two stars – our guide, Abdul, says all Kashgar hotels are only two stars. It is our first bad one and is kinda scary, but actually, our room is better than some of the others'. Main problem is crappy water - ours is cloudy, while some people's is brown.
Abdul teaches English at the university here in Kashgar. He speaks it very well.
I will work on my Chinese test tomorrow.
This morning we visited a Uygur cemetery. It is mostly made up of round clay tombs; each tomb holds a family. There were some rectangular tombs that hold individuals. People are not buried underground, but simply placed inside the tomb.
I tutored Yu Liping in English on the bus. I'm happy to do it; she's a great student. [It has been suggested to me, and I have given serious thought to one day teaching English in China or Taiwan.]
Before lunch, we saw a big statue of Mao Zedong. It is one of the few still standing.
For lunch we went to a Uygur family’s house. Before entering, we washed our hands three times and didn’t shake the water off (because it would be unlucky by their tradition). We sat on the floor, shoes off, and ate mostly breads and noodles.
We then went to a bazaar, the largest in Asia and the second largest in the world (second to the one in Marrakech, Morocco). It was cool; you can buy almost anything there. We also visited an old section of town. Very interesting.
We had dinner in some sort of park with very old elm trees.
Heard from Nadine that Louisiana is still flooding. Heh, I’m in a desert.
Tomorrow is also a busy day.
Augh, I hate this bathroom. While showering, the nozzle suddenly changed direction twice and soaked my towels, clothes, and most of the bathroom. Also, the toilet doesn’t flush well.
Summary of the events of June 12:
In the morning we visited the Id Kah Mosque, which is big enough to hold 20,000 people for prayer services. It seems to be a normal mosque.
We then visited a section of the Old Town. A family invited us into their home.
Then we saw the “Fragrant Concubine’s” tomb. It is an interesting story. [I don’t remember all the details, but the Fragrant Concubine was a very beautiful woman whom the emperor or some other high-up loved for her beauty. She didn’t love him back, though, and planned to kill herself after a failed escape attempt. She had a choice of three methods: poison, a knife, or hanging. She chose poison in the end because the other two methods would damage her body. Using the poison allowed her to preserve her beauty.]
After lunch, we went to the handicraft street and saw workers making food, cans, cookware, furniture, etc.
Then we went to a school where the students (about 4-5 years old) danced and sang for us. They did a 45 minute routine for us; it was very good! I think they must have worked very hard on it.
Our flight to Urumqi was late and delayed, hence the time at which I am writing this.
There are almost no overweight Chinese.
Kids who are good students get to wear red ties around their necks (they look like those things Cub Scouts wear, scarf/handkerchief-like). I can’t help but think that if something like this were done in the U.S., those kids would get beat up.
There is an interesting thing about green hats. Many Uygurs wear green hats, because green is a symbol of Islam. But a Han Chinese will never wear a green hat. Why? A green hat is a “gift” given to a Han man to tell him that his wife has been sleeping around.