We decided to visit Xinjiang province even though it means we need to take some flights, we really wanted to visit this interesting area. We took an early morning flight from Beijing to Urumqi, and another flight from Urumqi to Kashgar. We preferred taking flights instead of over 24 hour bus rides in such a short trip.
Xinjiang province, located at northwest of China, is a home to many ethnic groups, with a majority of Islamic Uyghur people. They speak mainly Uyghur and they don’t look like Chinese at all. It’s like being in a different country inside of China. The streets are different, the food, the customs, the culture and pretty much everything is different. The Uyghur cuisine is lovely. While visiting this province, I felt like there’s enormous amount of dust everywhere, but it didn’t bother me much. The whole Uyghur experience is very special.
We arrived in Kashgar at afternoon. We stayed in Pamir Youth Hostel, nice hostel in a great location near the old town, Id Kah Mosque and the food market. The beds are really hard at the double rooms and also at the dorms. Free wi fi. Staff are very helpful.
Our rating for Pamir Youth Hostel is 7 out of 10.
We went inside the Id Kah Mosque. There’s nothing to see. You really don’t need to go past the ticket booth and pay the entrance fee. We paid for tickets and were expecting something else. The plaza area outside is much more interesting. Our rating for Id Kah Mosque is 1 out of 10.
At evening we went to the night market near our hostel and it was wonderful, many interesting people and local Uyghur food. You can find here noodles, rice, fish and all kind of meat. We met a nice Chinese guy that summed it up greatly while eating a lamb stomach:
“Chinese eat every animal, and every part of the animal!!!”.
We ate a great rice dish that cost only 3 yuan!
We went to see Kashgar Livestock Market. Lots of goats and sheep, some cows, horses, and camels all are for sale. It’s interesting to see how the local do business and bargain, but it’s also crowded and messy and quite hard to see the animals suffer. Made us feel uncomfortable…
At the market we met a Uyghur man that spoke English who named Mumin. First he offered us to buy his knives, but after we politely refused, we started chatting with him and he was really nice. We drove together to the Sunday Market and he took us to eat great noodles called ‘lachman’ at a local restaurant. After a short visit at the market we walked around the old town of Kashgar.
Walking around the old town of Kashgar feels like walking in an old authentic world. Major part of Kashgar has been modernized like many other cities in China. There is still a decent sized chunk of old houses left, but a lot of them are crumbling apart. If you wish to visit this charming old town, do it before it is too late to see this part of ancient Silk Road history.
Our rating for Kashgar is 8 out of 10.
read about the amazing roundtrip from Kashgar to Karakul Lake.