Markets of the World
Photographs by David Kestenbaum
Kashgar, Xinjiang Province, China
Kashgar, a large oasis town on the Silk Road, is the most western city in China. It’s really Central Asia, not China, as you can tell from the people in the photo. The Uighurs, who are related to Kazakhs and Uzbekhs and speak a Turkic language, are the largest group of people in Xinjiang. Kashgar has a huge, famous Sunday market that covers many acres. Along with the things you might see for sale at any market such as food and clothing, there are also horse, sheep and camel markets. I think a camel went for about $800.
I was planning to travel from Kashgar over the Karakoram Highway to Pakistan. However, before going there I was robbed of all my valuables in a place called Turfan, which is below sea level and was known as “the pearl of the Silk Road.” Therefore, I could not go to Pakistan because I did not have a passport. However, having heard so much about the Sunday market in Kashgar, I chose to take the 3 day bus ride through the desert from Urumchi, the capital of Xinjiang, to get to Kashgar. Fortunately, I had a good book to read on the bus and a seat on the side of the bus that faced hills all the way instead of the basin of the Taklamakan (meaning “He who goes in doesn’t come out”) Desert. Of course, I caught a plane back to Urumchi. My camera and lenses were also stolen, and these photos were taken with a cheap camera.
Guanxi Province, China
Yangshuo is several hours by boat on the Li River from famous Guilin. The area is of course famous for its oddly shaped limestone hills. Yangshuo had a large daily market with stacks of sugar cane, chickens brought in baskets on bicycles and rows of meat hanging from hooks. I took a lot of great photos there, but this one is my favorite.
Guanxi Province, China
This was also taken in Yangshuo in 1988. It was becoming a big traveler hangout at that time.
Nanping, Sichuan Province, China
Nanping, a friendly town of wooden houses, is set in a beautiful mountain valley. It’s the nearest town to the gorgeous national park, Jiu Zhai Gou, which has mountains, waterfalls and very clear lakes, and reminded me of Western North America. Someone told the man that his picture was being taken, so he smiled.
One of my favorite travel stories happened in Nanping. I was there with a Chinese friend after our visit to the national park. His favorite English word seemed to be “terrible.”
He was anxious to get back to his hometown, which was about 12 hours away by bus. We went to buy tickets for the next day, but none were available. “Terrible!” I have to admit that I didn’t mind spending a few days there because it was such a nice place. The next morning, he said he would get up at 8 to go to the bus station and try to get tickets.
He returned and said, “Terrible. No tickets for tomorrow.” There were 2 bus companies, and they alternated service every other day. I told him to go back to the station and get tickets for two days hence so we would be sure to have tickets. When he returned to the hotel, he again reported, “Terrible!”
“What?!” I answered. “You couldn’t get tickets for the day after tomorrow?”
It turned out that he had bought 2 tickets for 2 days from then, and then checked again at the other company, and it turned out that they did have tickets for the next day. So he bought 2 more tickets and was unable to get a refund for the first 2 tickets.
It didn’t matter that much because the tickets were only a few dollars each. But later that day we climbed up to a small, mountainside Buddhist temple and met a man whose daughter-in-law worked for the bus company that had the bus going in 2 days. So we were able to refund the tickets after all.
David Kestenbaum is a world traveler and ESL teacher who lives in South Deerfield. His many photographs have been exhibited at GoNOMAD Cafe in South Deerfield, and numerous other locations in the US and Japan.
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