After doubting whether to spend my Sunday at the world-famous market of Kashgar or Hotan, it was the advice of some of the locals that convinced me to travel to Hotan. The bus trip itself was rather smooth, even though it took around 11 hours. It was finding a place to stay that proved difficult. If it were not for the help of a very sweet Chinese girl and her friend-cook, it would have been almost impossible. But they accompanied us until well after midnight in a search for a room. I imagined this was due to the market of the next morning - and was getting excited at the prospect of exploring the bazaar of Hotan.
Early next morning, we soon found out that our hotel happened to be close to the bazaar. Before we knew it, we stumbled upon the first stalls, selling ducks, chicken, and geese - from here, we dove into the market and its many streets. We came across many stalls selling jade - the precious stone for which Hotan is famous. They come in any shape and size you can imagine. Uyghur women and men were polishing the stones on the spot, spraying water over them to make them look shinier. The further we walked, the more we realized that we only saw Ughurs; no other foreigners, and almost no Chinese to be seen anywhere. At the end of the first big street, we found some food stalls, and had a hearty breakfast before continuing to explore. We would discover that the market was big - very big. The more we walked, the more streets filled with stalls we saw. The later it became, the more people were at the market.
We were bombarded by sounds, colourfully dressed Uyghur women, smells of animals being cut, sights that were catching our attention: a hewn off camel head lying on the street, an old man pushing his donkey cart through an alley. men sharpening their knives in an age-old fashion, row upon row of brightly coloured dresses - it seemed endless. We took local transport (basically, a flat piece of wood on wheels, pulled by an motorbike) to the animal market, where goats were offloaded trucks, cows, donkeys, sheep, horses and camels traded, and where animals were pushed into the slaughterhouse - on the other side, we would see men busy separating the different parts - heads, ears, intestines - of the animals that had walked in alive just before. We headed back to the main bazaar, had lunch, saw a man perform singing and simulating an instrument with his voice, before we continued our long market stroll. Even now, after many hours, we still found entire streets that we had not seen before. The crowd seemed to always grow - and we got always more impressed by this enormous, thriving, authentic market. Towards the end of the day, when the market did not seem over at all, we went to a big intersection, where we saw people leave with their newly acquired goods, we saw the mess on the streets growing, we saw, again, Uyghur women in fabulous dresses: we were so fascinated, that we watched until after sunset. We were happy having come to Hotan for the Sunday bazaar.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Hotan Bazaar (China). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Hotan Bazaar.
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