Homepage Everyday Adventures Work Visit! Contact

The Khotan Bazaar

Khotan’s main tourist attraction is its Sunday bazaar. The city of Kashgar in Xinjiang has for centuries laid claim to the region’s most famous Sunday bazaar, drawing buyers and sellers from all over Central Asia. Just last year, however, the Kashgar bazaar was tidied up and housed in a permanent structure – obviously much nicer for the weekly vendors but definitely cutting way, way down on the scale of exoticism. Our guidebook noted that the Khotan bazaar, so far completely unreconstructed, was the last place to get a real feel (and smell) of what Kashgar used to be.

Stepping through the main entrance, we immediately felt like we had stepped back in time. The people, the goods for sale, the donkey carts barreling by with their drivers yelling “Posh! Posh!” (“Get out of the way!”) was like standing at the crossroads of international commerce in, say, the 16th century.

The girls, particularly Sami, found the main lanes overwhelming. After a few minutes we ducked into a side path that seemed much quieter. Gul explained that even this area would normally be crowded, but this being prime harvest time for cotton and wheat, many people were out in their fields.

This area of the bazaar was reserved for homebuilding items – yes, like a Home Depot. Everything from – literally – pillar to post was for sale here.

Although this area was quiet, it wasn’t terribly interesting, so we kept wandering until we turned a corner into the wool market.

The stacks of raw wool yarn looked cool at first:

But then the colors caught our eye, and finally, we found the pots of dye at the end of the rainbow!

Sami wanted to buy some of the dye powder, but since the stuff is all probably super-toxic (!) we settled for watching the vendors mix up custom colors for their customers.

A little green, a little blue, a little red, all wrapped up in a twist of paper and handed to one veiled woman after another.

Further down the lane, an old man approached Tom to shake his hand…and shook, and shook, and then started talking to him, shaking all the while! With Gul helping the translation along, he asked where we were from, how old Tom was, and many other questions. Valiantly hanging on even as a crowd gathered to watch and listen, Tom patiently answered. The first meeting of the Uighur-American Friendship Society is now in session!

We were in the market for some Uighur hats, and soon found an entire street dedicated to them:

Tom found a big, black lambs’-wool Cossack-style hat (“Just remember they killed your ancestors”), and Miranda fell in love with a furry, warm number. Sami looked good in everything, but held off on a purchase for now.

One vendor draped Tom with a mink scarf. We thought he was trying tell Tom he needed to accessorize more, but actually he wanted to get him to by it for ME – but a Muslim man would never dream of draping a scarf over another man’s wife!

The interior lanes were reserved for carpets and shimmering silks.

We did buy a length of polyester Atlas silk – the real thing would have cost about US $300, but this synthetic piece was only about $10.


A carpet vendor had an ingenious solution for his child while he was busy working!

The girls needed a nap at this point too -- shopping, 16th-century style -- is tiring!

But no rest for us grown-ups! 'Cause we had one more thing on our shopping list: a camel!


Xinjiang chapter shortcuts: Intro Urumqi
Khotan Treasures Toy Bazaar Camel Weaving Shakeer Hats Food Costume Bowls Camel Ride
Overland Kashgar Old City Bazaar Kindergarten Rural Life Reunion

Homepage Everyday Adventures Work Visit! Contact