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