Tom and I were eager to see the livestock market, but the girls had had enough of the bazaar by then. We had some lunch and took them back to the hotel, where they played happily while Tom and I headed back to the bazaar to sniff out the animals. They weren’t hard to find – it was by far the most crowded part of the market.
Cows, donkeys, sheep and Uighur men surrounded us. Before coming to the market we had joked about buying a camel, so we were delighted to find, from our rickety perch above the crowd, half a dozen REAL ones for sale about fifty action-packed yards away! We made our way verrrry carefully through the crowds, keeping an eye out for flying hooves, lashing tails and, of course, ground-level souvenirs.
We finally got to the camels and they were…magnificent! Beautifully groomed, enormous – well over seven feet at the hump– and either cool as cucumbers or lobotomized, because despite the hubbub, they barely even twitched an eyelash.
Their owner, a village guy in a big brown, furry hat, sat there calmly waiting for offers. A crowd quickly formed to watch the foreigners (including a woman, gasp!) haggle for a came (okay, we were really just asking about its age and eating habits).
The biggest, loveliest camel could be ours for a mere 6,000 RMB – about US$560 - and that was just his opening offer!
We were sorely tempted to buy it just to take back to the hotel and show the girls! Reality quickly set in, however, and not just because the guy didn’t take Visa...
Our household , sadly, remains camel-free – but just a few days later we would have an up-close and personal encounter with camels. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, a sobering story about a beautiful, but dying, local