Kashgar

Kashgar, has been a city at the crossroads of the Silk Road for over two thousand years, it’s a natural oasis, it has to be as there are over 1000kms of desert to its nearest neighbour on one side and the forbidding mountain passes to the ‘Stans on the other side.  We got to know it fairly well over the following days as we were trapped there until our bikes could cross the bridge. We were assured that the repairs would be treated as an urgent task, something we readily believed having seen the queues of trucks already waiting on both sides of the damaged bridge, and that had been within a day of the earthquake striking. I loved Kashgar, the people speak a Turkic language, similar to those spoken in the ‘Stans so we were very much at home with the “Salaam aleikum” and “chok guzel” phrases we had learnt on our way through. The people are Uighurs, and follow Islam, it felt decidedly un-Chinese. The Kite Runner was filmed here (the producers had wisely decided that Afghanistan would be a bit risky to film in). Kashgar made a fantastic substitute and apparently even Afghan people are surprised to hear the film was actually shot in China.

Iron stomach Coates had picked up a stomach bug with some most unfortunate and anti-social symptoms, I was relieved to find we would be staying in a nice hotel for several days while we waited for the repairs to the bridge. Hopefully, I would be able to shake it before we had to move on.

The Sunday Market in Kashgar is famous; the people from the surrounding settlements have been bringing their wares to the market for hundreds of years and haggling with Silk Road Traders just as long. I was even more impressed by the livestock market where livestock of every type are brought in to be sold. Amongst the donkeys, goats and sheep I spotted a golden retriever, our guide hastily reassured me that it was for sale as a pet and nothing more. He then enquired as to whether we eat dog in England – “just Hot Dogs” I replied and went on to explain what they are and that Brits can be quite squeamish about what animal the meat on their plate has come from.