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Kashgar’s knife making and a grand welcome

Kashgar is an oasis city in the far west of China which has been in the news for all the wrong reasons of late, but depsite the recent troubles it is a very welcoming place…

After another night camping in the desert we broke camp early for a five hour drive to Kashgar.

Along the way there was a stop off in a small town for lunch.

Whilst we ate some nice shashlik, a policeman came and asked us for our passports, but we did not have them as they were in the safe on the truck. Fortunately John, our Chinese guide and travelling companion, stepped in and smoothed things over. The policeman then followed us for a while…

This area is famous for the quality of knives it produces, the policeman, who we’d thought would be with us all day, turned out to be really helpful. He pursuaded the owner of one of the shops to let us take a look out the back at the knives being made by some local boys.

Later we arrived in Kashgar, one of the bigger oasis cities in the western part of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. The poulation is a mix of Uyghur, Han Chinese, Tajik, Kyrgyz, Uzbek and other ethnic groups, and at times tensions rise into violence – only a few days before there had been trouble. Although the tensions were a little worrying, my thoughts were focused on other more pressing matters – the promise of a shower after four nights bush camping in the Taklamakan desert.

I was also in need of some painkillers as my back was in a bad way due to the bouncing of the truck and sleeping on the ground.

Upon arrival at our hotel – the Seman Hotel – we received a wonderful welcome from dancing girls and hotel staff lining the way into the hotel. The hotel is beautifully decorated and like Dunhuang, had a “John’s Cafe” within the grounds.

Had evening meal in another “John’s Cafe” and a good few beers. A lot of places (like KTV) closed to foreigners due to the recent troubles. It was quite funny when we returned to our rooms and received the almost obligatory “You want massage?” phone call that you get in many Chinese hotels… the funny thing was that you could here the call approaching down the corridor before it got to our room!

See Kashgar markets

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