10AM: Back on a bus, and feeling good. My catch-and-release experience with the Khotan Public Security Bureau last night had actually been a pretty positive one for everybody involved: a comfortable ride, interesting conversation–and a chance to meet the senior public security officer on watch for Khotan County that night, a friendly middle-aged bureaucrat who was, expectedly, Han–but unexpectedly, a woman, and even more unexpectedly, fluent in Uighur. After seeing my Zhejiang University ID card and hearing my story about this being my last grand trip in China before leaving, she was nice enough to direct her junior officers to take me to a cheap guest house, as I’d requested, rather than to the usual overpriced grand hotel preferred by most PSBs for their foreign “guests.” My PSB escorts even told the guesthouse night receptionist, an affable Uighur man in his twenties who’d had a bit to drink that night, that the rate I was looking to pay was nonnegotiable, and that was that. Continue reading
Tag Archives: Kashgar 喀什
Kashgar is Central Asia with Chinese Characteristics. Along the busy streets, Tajik herders truck their flocks past jewelry merchants from Pakistan and Uigher knife makers from Yengisar. Off the main streets, the city’s remaining narrow alleyways and traditional mud-brick homes are being bulldozed over, block by block, to make room for all the scientific development and unity that the Chinese propaganda banners proclaim. The new identikit concrete residences, painted a fairly convincing mud-brick brown, certainly look nicer to live in by any scientific measurement. Then there’s the new city park, laid out in place of another demolished old neighborhood, where people now can be seen enjoying a nice new grassy space–as a place to graze their goats. Also new: a huge new special economic zone, built on seized farmland outside the city, that is supposed to transform this ancient Central Asian trade hub into, well, a Central Asian trade hub.