Asia | China | North West | Kashgar – Faces of Kashgar
Everything in Kashgar spoke for the polarization the city had undergone. Adorned with big red lanterns, Peoples Square was a miniature of Tiananmen Square in Beijing. The statue of Chairman Mao, wearing the signature leader look on his face, inspected everyone who came to pay him respect. The photo portrait stalls along one end of the square reminded me of Tiananmen Square in the mid 80s, and Uygher parents lined up their kids in front of the Mao statue for professional portraits despite the kids protest or lack of enthusiasm.
Late in the evening, we sat at the balcony of an old teahouse in the Uygher section of town. Beds covered in rugs served as both tables and chairs. I looked over, entranced by the sight of kids crowding around a chickpea snack stall, the river of colors from the scarves and hats flowing by, and the freshly baked nan being passed from the brick oven to the counter in the bakery across the street. For 1 yuan per person, we got the best view in town, and became the best view in town, too. While we took photos of the busy street below us, some local men also looked up and pointed at us with great interest. For a few minutes I was scared that they might run up and take away my camera, but they just moved on, as if having spent enough time looking at the monkeys in a zoo.
I noticed that many of the building were very artistically painted with detail, but were in desperate need for repair. The very teahouse we sat in looked at least a hundred years old, and so did the dust and stains on the floor and stairs. Having seen the two teahouses yesterday and today, I was starting to doubt the saying that Kashgar natives were shrewd businessmen like their ancestors on the Silk Road. If they were so shrewd, wouldnt they realize that a slight cleanup or upgrade of the facility could boost business several times?