Today is the day we have been waiting for. Today is the market day in Kashgar. It is the biggest market in Central Asia and up to 50.000 people will gather to sell whatever they have. The most lively market is the animal market. Here animals like sheep, donkeys, horses and even camels are sold. We head for this part of the market which is a bit out of town. When we drive on the highway we see lots of livestock being transported to the market. Then we notice a man with four huge camels, all walking on the same highway. This is going to be something. We enter the market, which is for free, and see thousands of animals. The first bit is a mix of donkeys, yaks and camels. Three man are haggling loudly over a donkey. We watch the scene and notice that the seller tries to cut a deal by grabbing the potential buyers hand and shake it. The handshake means probably a closed deal. But the man refuses and waves his hands in the air. It takes another 5 minutes of shouting and waving arms before the potential buyer runs off. No deal apparently.
The sheep area is next. All sheep are literally hurled out of trucks and then lined up with the use of ropes. Animal rights friends should not visit this market! The sheep doesn¡¯t seem to protest and await their fate. 10 metres away one of their mates is slaughtered by a restaurant owner. We decide to skip lunch. Then we arrive at the horse market. This is a great part as horses are being tried. We even see a little kid, around 6 years old, gallop around on a beautiful horse. Only men are doing business here and they come from far. We see han-chinese, Uygur, Uzbeks and Tadzjik, all in their own style of clothes.
We hang around until midday and then head back to the hotel. There we pack our bags and meet Jason afterwards. Just when we leave the hotel tries to get some more money out of pockets by saying we have to pay a 40 yuan parking fee. Yeah right¡ but Jason keeps saying we should. We tell him it¡¯s a trick and leave. Jason follows in disbelief. But when we actually drive off, a men stands firmly in front of a gate and won¡¯t budge. Bummer, we have to pay. When the men arrives at the car and starts shouting out loud we know he is for real. Instead of 40 we give him twenty and then tell him to open the gate. Irritated he opens it and with a grin on our face we head towards Aksu after buying some gearbox-oil for the car.
Jason isn¡¯t helpful in terms of directions. He doesn¡¯t seem to know how to read signs or maps. Okay this region is new to him and people don¡¯t speak mandarin very well. So finding the right road takes more time then we expected. The road is reasonable when we drive out of the city. Road signs are in Chinese so when there is a diversion due to some road construction we take the wrong road. When we finally get to the highway we are disappointed to what we find. It¡¯s an old road with lots of holes in it. Next to it lies a brand new road, just build but not in use yet. We follow the new road and cross it every now and then. The old road seems to twirl around the new one like a snake. Some parts are in use but then only for a few kilometres or so. Then we have enough of it and use the new one. Jason is silent in disbelief. Strange foleignels?! For a long time we use it and feel great. This saves the car a lot more then the old road! But then we come to a point where they are still building and we are back to the dusty track. Just before Aksu we arrive at a toll road. We try our ¡®we are from Holland¡.for free??¡¯ tactic again but the lady looks at us with an iron face. 15 yuan a computer shouts back, the ladies face hasn¡¯t moved an inch. We pay and when the computer shouts Thank you, we piss ourselves with laughter. The iron lady is by this time starting to look angry.
Tired we reach Aksu and have difficulties finding a hotel recommended by a friend of Jason. The friendship hotel is the place to be. Believe us, it is not. The staff seems to have no interest in serving us and the manager is called. He probably is the only one to speak English. But when he arrives this is far from the truth. The man is even more arrogant then the staff and is unwilling to help us. He only wants to sell us a 280 yuan room while there are also 180 yuan rooms. Meyou or no is a favourite word in his vocabulairy. By this time we are wondering why this is called the friendship hotel as the manager isn¡¯t making friends at all. We don¡¯t budge and keep on bargaining. Then we get to see the 180 rooms and its in a reasonably but old state. Still better then the rooms in India but expensive for what you get. We bargain some more and finally get it for 150. Jason looks worried as this means he is getting a similar room. As he is the one who recommended the place he can¡¯t say no.
When we get our luggage the car won¡¯t start anymore. Shit, and we are way of track here. We check the batteries and everything seems to work. We pushstart the car and luckily that works. But when we try to start it again it doesn¡¯t. Worried we decide to have some dinner and end up in a small and foul looking place. The floor is littered with sunflower seeds and a drunk lady keeps shouting¡ hello!! The room next to the dining hall is a karaoke place where to children are making a lot of noice. But as wonders do happen, the owner is from Sechuan and creates a wonderful dinner! Back at the car, we try to start the engine again. Another miracle happens as it starts right away. Elles and I kiss the car for being nice to us. Hope it stays nice until Beijing!