At a point, after teeth, hoofs, testicles and overall sheep-ness are inspected, a deal is done. Hands are shaken. Money presumably changes hands, but it’s invisible to the naked eye.
Like stockbrokers working the stock exchange I’m told that some buyers spend the whole day at the markets buying and selling repeatedly in order to make a margin on the sale – sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
The busines of livestock selling is conducted exclusively by Uighur men – Chinese animal traders are not admitted to the market.Women appear to be welcome but don’t participate in the trading, at least not obviously.
I have a little story to tell you about Kashgar and how pivotal it was in my eventual move to China.
Kashgar, market town smack in the middle of the Silk Road, with hundreds of years of traveller and trader history. I don’t think I was even consciously aware that it was in China. Four years ago my husband began coming to China for work, visits that became more frequent and more prolonged. He could obviously see the writing on the wall that I couldn’t – our whole family was going to need to relocate to China within the year. I had listened with rapt attention to his stories about Shanghai, but China was a huge unknown quantity, and only the previous year I had turned down a trip to the Beijing Olympics on ‘ethical humanitarian grounds’. I was so full of shit.
Realising I may need a bit more convincing before a relocation was proposed, after one particular trip he bought a book for me called ‘Kashgar – Oasis City on China’s Old Silk Road’. It was full of incredible photographs of a city that had lived only in my imagination – dusty adobe houses, cool courtyards shaded by trellised grapevines, mosques, deserts, camels, brass and copper (you can read an interview with the photographer John Gollings here).
Kashgar didn’t disappoint. It’s all you imagine of an ancient silk road city and more. I think I won’t write any more, and let you see for yourself the beauty of fascination of the place. Smell the spices, taste the juicy pomegranates and the char-grilled meats, feel the smooth cool dusty adobe walls of the quiet alleys of the old city and hear the hawker cries of the busy, bustling Sunday Market. You must go.
All the internet buzz this week about Ophiucus, the ‘new star sign’ of the Western zodiac, has had everyone’s astrological knickers in a major knot. (you can read this simple explanation of why you don’t need to change your star sign, followed by pages of entertaining loony comments)
Love that google.
(Hongqiao Hua Shi)
718 Hongjing Lu, near Hongsong Lu.
Open daily 9am – 6pm