Saturday, December 27, 2008

11am dec 27 -
left Kashgar bus station for Yengesar. the roads are wide and well maintained, the scenery flat and uninteresting - so far.
the colors are dreary, everyone is in black, everyone dresses fashionably alike more or less. every woman in knee high boots, black skirts and fitted coats. every man in black suits and brown fur hats. the road to Yengesar flat uninteresting miles of ploughed fields. very rural and old fashioned with plenty of people riding on donkey carts, going past miles and miles of cotton farm land. maybe other crops as well. guide not particularly informative.
Ali was busy and so was his friend Osman so he put me on to the Internet cafe assistant - another friend- Qasim. he was surprised i wanted to take the public bus and not a taxi. this business of travelling in the rmb8 bus from kashgar and sitting in the opens rickshaw type cart isn't for Qasim - he tells me all his other western clients prefer taxi and best buses - well compared to Pakistan the worst Chinese buses are as good as our best! almost - I'm not complaining, hes wondering what kind of pseudo American am i? maybe a hippie - that's exactly the kind he doesn't want as clients - hes looking for yuppies, paying good tips, travelling almost first class.

in Yengesar, quiet sleepy town all the knife makers at the knife factory had gone off to lunch or namaz, don't know which. did get to see one worker pounding on the knife he was making. bought 4 knives for rmb200 - probably got cheated good, but so be it. its bound to be that way no matter what i buy. these fellows bargain too much. i never know the real value of anything.
lunch 1.30pm Yengesar
samsa, qara chai, uzum(grapes) banana and naan.
having lunch with qasim my guide for the day. we had lunch at a street cafe-- extremely delicious samsa - crisp and hot from the tandoor. washed down with piping hot tea with cloves and some other herb that looks like galangal. grapes and naan. we took our time eating as people asked Qasim where i was from etc-- Karachi Pakistan - really she doesn't look Pakistani---walked around the street nibbling on some dry fruit or the other. there is tons of great dry fruit here. specially raisins, walnuts and almonds and jujube's of all sizes.
i hadn't carried all my money with me so after lunch and knife shopping realized i didn't have enough cash for another day at Yarkand. after some back and forth with Ali over the phone with Qasim, trying to arrange for some friend in Yengesar to lend me some, i decided id rather go back. even though Ali says the Sunday market in Yarkand is authentic and not touristy like Kashgar, including village artists who come out and paint scenery's- plain air style work i guess. was looking forward to it but something changed and i just wanted to get back. i wasn't in the mood for another crappy hotel charging too much, another dusty shabby town no matter how old and historic. Qasim who thinks I'm 40, is a little miffed. I've changed my mind and decided to return to kashgar in half a day - hes disappointed i can tell. not making rmb 50 a day off of me.
9.30pm sat dec 27 Chinni Baagh hotel room
some girl getting hysterical. screaming and crying...i can hear the commotion from my room. too cold outside. maybe ill venture out later. its all quiet again. its been a strange day. i thought id enjoy the two day trip south from here to Yengesar and Yarkand. but no sooner had the bus ride began than i felt i didn't want to go further. maybe i got so spoiled in Pakistan these past two weeks that this indifference and foreignness here has put me off. these aren't pleasant welcoming baltis or gilgitis or shimshalis or gulmities - they're hardened by communist rule and suspicious of every one - bargaining incessantly. welcoming once they know you're fellow Muslim. busy - no use for idle chit chat - and this is so far west - cant imagine what the heartland must be like, Beijing and Shanghai specially

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