One of the coolest parts of Xinjiang was going to the markets and bazaars. They are quite famous and predictably, some have been commoditized for tourists (Like the one in Urumqi which was super lame.) They aren’t quite the dangerous maze of dark alleyways that I heard they used to be in the past, but in other cities, bazaars are an important part of daily life and even locals go there to bargain for their daily needs. And it is a literal and figurative feast for your mouth and eyes. There were many items for sale at the bazaars but me being me, I just took picture of the foods.
I also went to the Sunday Livestock market in Kashgar. It was not at all a place for tourists and distinctly got the feeling that we were bothering the locals. Especially in the cow/bull area where most were standing docile, but not all. As my friend and I got deeper into the market, I actually felt a bit unsafe. Cows (most were bulls) were just led on short leashes and tied to posts. All it would take was for one to kick, or get rowdy and start a stampede. The only protection was lack of running space. Anyway, it was an amazing experience.
Travel tips: Some friends tried to take a bus, and failed. So just take a taxi. Though my taxi driver didn’t know where it was, as didn’t other taxi drivers (my friends told me) so ask for the name, in the Xinjiang language, from your hostel before you leave. You would think it would be this big tourist thing with plenty of drivers looking to take you. But it isn’t at all. And you should pay your driver to wait for you because there aren’t extra taxi’s here and it’s a bit out of town, so finding one to take you back is hard.
Oh, cool! Is there a local tea specialty?
Ha, with the rowdy cows. There was one orange Highland cow (with horns) that got all bent out of shape at the Sandwich Fair in NH. The handler was screaming at everyone to get out of the way. They got the cow back to its pen without anyone getting impaled. Mean cow promptly took its fury out on a another, smaller cow. But at least the smaller cow could fight back with horns of its own.
The actual tea isn’t special. I bought some black tea but actually it was from Henan. The spices are what make it special. Saffron, cardamon, rose, etc. *drool*
And yeah, cows and bulls are friggin scary!