Cross China Road Trip 10: The Dazzling Colours of Old Town, Kashgar

Talk about poles apart. Timeless: As two kids play in the sleepy back streets of the old town I can only imagine that this may be a scene from anytime in Kashgar’s history. Surreal: The giant tourist tower dominates the neighbouring space making for a somewhat uncomfortable reality.

I don’t remember too much of the modern part of the city. As a resident of China for over ten years you get used to its typical style of architecture and drive through it without giving it a second thought.

Most places are similar on a highly soporific scale and it takes a lot to shake me out of my catatonic state these days. Having driven thousands of miles, each town along the way may as well have be the same place as the previous one, lacking any unique identity. That is dust, dust and more dust followed by small shops, rubbish and a zillion low grade forms of transport chugging by.

It had been a long shout since going anywhere to write home about. I mean without encountering anything in particular and having to find new ways of propping my eyelids open. After weeks of driving plus a three times daily ordeal of blagging petrol from gas stations surrounded by barbed wire and security followed by a couple of hefty check points, I finally made it to Kashgar. Oh yes!

click to enlarge

In terms of the wow factor, Kashgar Old Town certainly doesn’t disappoint. Vehicles are generally prohibited in the area but even so the security guard of the Super8 Hotel, Ren Yong, came through the check point and allowed me park smack bang outside. Nice one on that mate. And so I invite you to come along on a visual journey with me. As you scroll down the page I can only hope that my photos do justice to such a fabulously vibrant place. Was it all worth the effort to get there? You’re damned right it was!

The Old Town from the outdside

So on the first full day I roll up my sleeves to go and look for a guesthouse as mentioned in the WKTG (Well Known Travel Guide). My aim is to put up a notice in the hope of finding a travel companion for when I head down along the South Silk Road and into the Qinghai Province. Xinjiang is a slow place to wake up and it only really gets going after 10am. Now that’s what I call a proper start to the day. You cant beat that just waking up feeling around this time in Kashgar. As people open up their shops down narrow terracotta streets in the crispness of a cool and bright autumn morning, I can already feel those stiff travel aches melting away. 

At last I find the guesthouse. This has to be the one as I remember seeing a picture of it on the internet some months ago so head for the open door. With no response I guess it must be busy so I let myself in.

Past a few locals sitting by the door sharing mint tea, I see no one in charge so carry on past into the most stunning of courtyards followed by a big woman in bright green headscarf and bright pink dress. The yard is filled with large shiny healthy looking plants and vines, tapestries and glass partitions. Clearly animated by my presence, after following me around in circles for some moments the penny finally drops that I’m actually in someone’s house and she shoos me out in no uncertain terms. Nice one on that mate!

Thousands of years of fame as one of the major hubs along the Silk Road has meant that tourism is massive in Kashgar. There are TWAFS everywhere, a term I coined some years ago meaning Taking (Photos) Without Asking First. Recording this phenomena has become one of my hobbies and this is the first opportunity to actually record it. Please click on the YouTube link and drop by my Max China site and show some support by subscribing. Cheers.

Don’t forget to raise the quality in the settings at the bottom of the screen.

Hospitals don’t get any more colourful than this

A huge portion of the Old Town has gone now and its residents moved on long ago. Its demise is sadly an ongoing process and now it seems more like an island surrounded by modern buildings

If you liked the post and fancy a bit more then please drop and watch the accompanying video I did on my Max China channel on YouTube. Once again. your subscription would be super appreciated. Happy watching. Best to all my amazing followers. Sorry I haven’t been around much lately but I’m multi tasking like crazy at the moment.

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82 replies

      • Same old same old…..except I got diagnosed with diabetes several days ago. Health professionals in the family are trying to get me to take this seriously, saying this is not good.. But own doctor & nurse not so worried. Still have to change what I eat though. What a chore…… I enjoy your posts when you find the time to do them.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I am following the contents of the fat ten pocket clear file the practice nurse gave me, and going to classes run by the diabetes trust here. I am supposed to have a good look at http://www.diabetes.org.nz Meal plate has to be half veges, quarter unprocessed carbohydrates, quarter protein. Red meat and processed meats frowned on. I love sausages and onion gravy, this is going to be hard. Good luck changing your diet.

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      • Phew what a total pain in the backside that sounds. I haven’t got my head around changing my diet yet. I only really know one way to cook and thats with red meat and pasta and as a Brit, potatoes done in 100 different ways lol. Have you started your diet yet? If so how’s it going?

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      • Just starting out , went to a cooking class yesterday which did four different dishes. Really helpful to talk to dietitians about it. NZers love red meat, pasta and potatoes too. We went to the supermarket with dietitians last Saturday. I have to eat one potato per dinner about half the size I am used to. And loads of unstarchy veges which I have previously not eaten in such quantities. Not great at all, but the family health professionals keep on scaring me, so I do it.Good luck.

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      • Yes I get scared about the damned crap air we have to breathe here. The cooking classes and visits to the supermarket sound great though. I’d be interested if you could tell me what one of your dinners consisted of though

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      • I’ll spread this out over a few replies as WP comes over all strange at long replies. Dinner is (1) fish / chicken / pork / egg in a serving no larger than the palm of my hand. No fat or skin on meat, no red meat. Steamed / boiled / pan fried with minimum of oil. No deep frying. (2) Carbohydrate serving no larger than fist: potato / sweet potato / wholemeal pasta / udon noodles / vermicelli / taro. (3) Rest of meal is vegetables: (a) – leafy greens steamed or lightly stir fried, (b) – fill up with pumpkin, parsnip, beetroot, cauliflower, broccoli, onion, whatever. Root vegetables really tasty baked in oven if you have an hour or so to spare, chop them up small.

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      • Unfortunately the diabetes does not give a damn about how you feel. It just goes on doing its worst. I went to my second class on diabetes this morning, and we were shown horrible pictures about what diabetes does to kidneys, eyes and feet. We also had a section on facing up to diabetes depression and diabetes panic. This was not uplifting to hear when I am only two weeks in. We were reminded that diabetes is for life. I did not want to hear that either. Once your pancreas cops out it never goes back to making enough insulin. Good on you for ploughing through all the stuff I wrote. I realised I had written five comments which seemed over the top. I am happy to write more if you have more questions. For puffed up feet and legs, “elastic” or “flight” socks are a big help. I got them when I puffed up on the blood pressure medication. The nurse said they are good for blood circulation so I still wear them. If they are not sold locally try online, or ask friends or family to get them.

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      • No no no > fire away when you are writing Glenys. Well I guess at least there is all this info and classes these days that can help. I can understand the depression and panic and please feel free to unload any feelings you have at any time if you need to here mate. XXX Big hugs Glenys

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sauces are a major problem. Either you make your own or you use commercial sauces sparingly. Use those with reduced salt or sugar if possible. This is because they put in too much refined flour, salt, or sugar, all of which are really bad for diabetics. Diabetes strikes when the pancreas makes too little insulin, panics, and turns all starches to sugar which wrecks the kidneys, then the circulation. After that your feet puff up, tingle, go numb the nerves die off, and gangrene sets in. You need to put your feet up as much as possible to help your circulation. We need carbohydrates, but if we have too much all this bad stuff happens.

        Liked by 1 person

      • At one point in that comment I thought you were joking then as I read on I realised you were serious. I never realised that being a diabetic was that serious. So how do you put your feet up?

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      • Being a diabetic is very serious. Unfortunately by the time noticeable effects appear you are in a very bad way. I have a good lie down after lunch every day, as I am no longer young enough for the job market and live on a pension. i also put my feet up on the coffee table when sitting on the couch for a cuppa.

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      • On page 17 of “Diabetes and Healthy Food Choices” it says you can have one or two biscuits a day made with oats/ bran/ wholemeal flour, dried fruit – and golden syrup ! We call them Anzac biscuits here. I have one or two of them a day. Our family nurse says I should have some red meat. Only people with diagnosed heart problems need to cut out red meat completely. Both these cheer me up. I will still add pork and chicken to my diet.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I had a session with the family nurse and physiotherapist at a family dinner last night. I looked up the booklet again and had to eat my words. One or two biscuits occasionally on special occasions. Yes it is harsh, and they got quite sympathetic when they realised what I am in for. I am hoping that after the next lot of blood tests –
        three months apart – that I will be able to let up a bit. I will have been on the medication long enough to see how effective it is. A group of friends I used to work with all met for dinner the other night, and one woman said the medication had got her diabetes under control early on, and she could eat a wider range of food now. I hoe that happens for me.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Its nice that you can meet up with people in the same boat and give each other support. Next time I’m in the UK I’ll bear it in mind when I address my anxiety. Maybe I can join a group

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes it really does help to have people who know lots about it. The classes were good for that, we talked about what was happening for us. But I have eaten out twice in cafes and restaurants since I got this diagnosis, and realised there can be pitfalls. One was an Asian restaurant where I had a Japanese meal a light sauce with plenty of vegetables, which is important. The other was a cafe where the salad and fish bites were good but I realised I need to check sauces. I need to ask for the sauce to be in a separate little bowl or jug each time so I can see what I am getting and control the quantity. Shouldn’t be a problem in decent places but we will see what happens.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes people just dont seem to care about sauces > I mean look at what they lace the salad dressing with at KFC and McDonalds. Here they load the soya milk up with sugar. Its all wrong I tell you! ha ha

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      • On the http://www.diabetes.org.uk web site you may well find support groups listed, or a contact to tell you what is available. With any luck a place with a population as big as the UK may even have a chat room or Q & A site or page. If not, ask them on their contact page.
        Also you need to be careful about what to eat for other meals, and you do need to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner so that your metabolism does not react badly if it decides you are lacking in blood sugars. Breakfast – plain cornflakes, bran flakes, weet bix or vita brits with a little fruit and low fat milk. Or rice and veges for hot breakfast. Lunch – rice and veges for hot meal, or salad sandwich or filled roll for cold meal. Bread should be whole grain or whole meal if possible. I do have white bread when I am out at lunch time, but there is not much of it. Fruit – equivalent of medium sized apple 2x a day. Good luck !

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      • I expect dried ones are the same. All other dried fruit has very high levels of sugar, with the moisture being dried out of the fruit. Fruit juices are also too high in sugar, you need to water them down if you really must have them. Use equal or another artificial sweetener with tea and coffee.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It does help to have two health professionals in the family. Both have spent some time working in the regional hospital just down the road. The physiotherapist (now retd) worked with people in the late stages of diabetes. The nurse worked with diabetes sufferers both in the hospital and out in the community as public health nurse. She also used to go into the homes of people who were in a bad way and needed help with their diets. They are also realising that this diet is tough going for me, that I am not just another patient. and of course the diabetes booklet is small and easy to refer to. So they are encouraging me as well. I only once tried dieting, I have never worried about weight before. But I am being shown that this diet is vital to stay healthy, so I have stuck at it for four weeks. I hope I can stick at it for the long term. Good luck to you dealing with diabetes yourself.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hiya Glenys. I dont have diabetes. I just have a high cholesterol level and my family seems to have a history of stokes hence the worry over diet and environment etc. Whatever, its a minefield of worry to me as I’ve seen the reality of what can happen.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Andy. You are indeed lucky to not have diabetes, but with a family history of strokes, especially one of your parents, you should probably still cut down on meat and carbohydrates in your diet. Google heart care in the UK, and see what they advise.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Andy. It is the refined carbohydrates that are bad for us, though the whole carbohydrates are only good for us in limited amounts. Like our stress responses it comes back to our physical bodies not evolving nearly as fast as out lifestyles in recent centuries. Our hunter gatherer forbears evidently mostly ate edible parts of plants, ie roots, leaves, seeds, flower heads, etc. Occasionally they caught and ate a wild animal. And very occasionally they found fruit to eat in Autumn, and even a rare wild honey comb. So our human metabolism evolved for us to eat those foods in those particular ratios.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Damn why are carbs so great? As a Brit its all we eat LOL. Hope you are well Glenys. Sorry its been a while but have been mega busy with 12 hour shifts, the flue and you know what a few hours away from here

        Liked by 1 person

      • Once humans settled into communities and farmed the land, they grew grain crops and bred animals, though the animals did not always thrive or provide a lot of meat until we learned how to care for them. Crops were still dependent on the climate and weather. The grains of the various grass crops had to be laboriously ground by hand mill until the development of windmills and water wheel mills in more recent centuries. Until then grain seeds were broken up sufficiently to produce enough flour for bread but it was still very coarse. Finally innovative people worked out how to grind flour finely enough to make white bread, though only the well off could afford to pay for the time spent producing it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • So in northern and western Europe we grew what we could in that cold wet climate, and also what nourished us and kept us going in cold wet weather: potatoes, turnips, carrots, onions, marrows etc. We grew domestic grasses such as wheat and rye in England, barley or oats more often in Ireland and Scotland, and made bread or porridge out of them – also whiskey, and beer out of hops. Because daily life outside factories was not mechanised and most of us were on lower incomes, most of us worked very hard all day every day and burnt off all those carbs and calories. Even the old factory machines were heavy and cumbersome to work. We ate lots of fatty mutton, pork, sausages and black pudding, also full milk, butter and cheese. Then burnt all that off with a hard day’s work too.

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      • In the 20th century, especially since WW II, western world incomes and living standards have lifted greatly in many cases. People can far more often afford to buy steak, butter, cheese, takeaways of battered fish and chips and hamburgers. Technological advances mean it is cheap and easy to thoroughly grind wheat to make smooth white bread, which is greatly preferred to wholemeal and whole grain bread. Unfortunately this process also discards the outer layer of the grain and the wheatgerm inside it, which hold all the nutrients. Most of the bread and white flour we eat is processed like this. It has no nutrients for our bodies to absorb, and just sits waiting for our bloodstream and related enzymes etc to get rid of it. They can not absorb as fast as we ingest this left over flour, so it sits in our stomachs, blood vessels, intestines, etc, and clogs our livers and kidneys. So white flour affects many of us badly, leading to cancer, strokes, heart attacks, high blood pressure, diabetes – depending on our genes and metabolisms. Most of us no longer have jobs sufficiently physical to burn it all off.

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      • No worries on that Glenys. For me white bread is the worst most constipating material on the planet, well that and plane food ha ha. I never touch the stuff. I know what its going to do to my stomach. yeeeeech

        Liked by 1 person

      • Many of us in the hard working classes – ie most of us – never learnt interesting ways to cook vegetables, but we did know enjoy our meat and potatoes. This is now coming back to bite us in this age where we no longer do heavy physical work.
        So we need to limit the amounts of meat that we eat, reduce our red meat intake, and eat whole grain carbohydrates, brown rice not processed white rice, in order to get the nutrients and fibre from them Fibre is also important for the workings of our digestive systems and for the nutrients it provides. So eat wholegrain carbohydrates, in servings no larger than your fist at any given meal. Fat from animal products also need to be seriously limited as our bodies have not evolved to eat great amounts of them.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think I’m lucky over here in China because our larder is so different from the one I had back in the UK. In the UK my freezer was full of frozen chips, burgers and sausages. When we were even lazier we’d have chicken or fish and chips out of the paper while sitting in the car o spare ribs and chips from the Chinese takeway. madness

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      • Drat ! WP has just flicked off my unfinished comment. Anyway, beans in tins, eg four beans, butter beans, etc are good too. Add them to your meat dishes such as pasta sauces. Also the Mediterranean diet – vegetables and lots of fish. You need a small serve of meat no bigger than the palm of your hand to keep up your iron levels.
        You can findrecipes on http://www.heartuk.org.uk http://www.strokenetwork.org and on google. Also google “high cholestorol” and “refined carbohydrates”.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Vietnamese, Thai and Japanese dishes with fish or chicken are good for diabetics, but be sparing with the sauces and serve with brown rice, vermicelli or udon noodles. Don’t add more salt than absolutely necessary for taste. Fish and soy sauces have loads of salt so be careful. Use artificial sweeteners – eg equal – for tea and coffee. The commercial sachets of tea or coffee with milk usually have sugar added to them even if they do not say so on the packet. Taste before adding sweetener. Artificial sweeteners are not great, but are better than sugar.

        Liked by 1 person

      • keep salt out of nearly everything these days. My dad got a double stroke so I dont want to go down that road. I take a soluable aspirin every day. I know I already asked but how long has it been since you started the diet and how are you feeling now? You’re a trooper Glenys x

        Liked by 1 person

      • I started on 13 March after a 40 minute session with our medical centre nurse. I have felt fine all along. The diabetes was discovered in the blood test i have every three months now that I am on high blood pressure medication. My doctor put down nine things to be tested for on that test order. i also take statins for cholestorol, probably why he put down a list of nine tests.

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      • Hi Andy. It has slowly dawned on the slowly revolving cogs inside my head that you are at a disadvantage adjusting an English diet in an Asian country. Even if the Chinese are putting in lots of effort to tackling diabetes – don’t know if they do or not – it will all be related to Chinese food and shops. I remember the Korean shops and food did not relate to the diet I was used back in NZ. I suggest you go to website http://www.diabetes.org.nz and read up on the effects of diabetes and suitable types of food. Also http://www.healthyfood.co.nz – search “diabetes” on the home page. If you are still stuck I can summarise what I have learned so far. Good luck.

        Liked by 1 person

      • For me its about cholesterol > My hands and feet are swelling up. I know my diet is crap. Lots of people eat out in restaurants here as its so cheap, but the food itself isnt great. The oil and quality of meat plus prep conditions are really poor. Hmmmm I need to change my cooking ways as well. Hmf

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      • Good luck ! High cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes are often linked. I am now on medication for all three. At the diabetes class last Saturday the dietitian told one man that he needed to have his cholesterol levels checked because of this. So get checked for all three if you have not been checked already. Lie on your back up against the wall and put your legs up the wall with your feet up high to help your circulation have a rest. Your also need to exercise at least 30 minutes every day, even if it is just walking, as this is vital for your circulation.

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      • This improves the circulation by releasing all the blood and retained fluid from the blood vessels in the feet and ankles, and lets them contract back to a more normal diameter while they are up against the wall. My diuretic Furosemide was actually prescribed for me soon after I started on the Amlodipine for high blood pressure.It expands the blood vessels to lower the blood pressure. The family physiotherapist thought it did not do enough, but now that I am also on metformin for the diabetes my ankles are much less swollen, and she says part of the swelling was due to the diabetes. Much as I dislike the “flight” socks, they do do an excellent job. So I am living with the old lady thick stockings look.

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      • Yes, it is a lot of medication, and yes they do work. My sister in law is taking even more medications for a complex heart problem and we have had a number of conversations about how much medication is too much medication. She is a dyed in the wool greenie who for years believed in natural remedies, eating loads of vegetables, cycled and swam lots to keep fit, etc etc. Her heart problems blew up two years ago in her late sixties, and she has come to the same conclusion that I have. Our options are either deteriorate rapidly and seriously without medication, or have more quality time with the medication, such as it is. Her problems appear to be genetic. I am having similar problems to those my mother and her mother experienced later in life, so hereditary again . So we have both chosen to medicate – heavily.

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      • Phew > it sucks when it runs in the family. We have a problem with stokes though I am not sure if its not just bad luck. Do you have to pay for that arsenal of medication then?

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      • We pay NZ$5 for each prescription. Because we live in a small city and I can work or bus easily to most places I want to go, I decided to go without a car. I am sure that is helping me manage better on my pension.

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      • Use a light oil when cooking. Oils and fats set the pancreas in a panic too, and it goes nuts converting then into sugar as well. We need them in our diet, but in limited amounts. So low fat milk or sparing use of full cream milk – water it down. Refined flours in white bread, rice, and pasta also panic the pancreas. So eat wholemeal bread, whole meal pasta, and BROWN rice – not processed rice. Their dietary fibre fills you up and mixes well with the carbohydrates in them. Vermicelli and udon noodles are really good. Commercially roasted nuts are actually fried, and too oily. If you want roasted nuts, brown them in a dry frypan over medium heat. Watch them, they burn suddenly and fast.

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      • That’s good, I remember what it was like in Korea where they saw things quite differently both medically and dentally. I did get the medication and rest I thought I needed when I needed it, but I was never seriously ill.
        We are racking up a lot of comments at the end of your Kashgar article, which I enjoyed,by the way, but it is not related. If you like, I could continue this conversation on my WP email lifecameos@gmail.com . It still gives plenty of privacy. If you like I would also like to post extra copies I have been given of the booklet “Diabetes and Healthy Food Choices” plus two really helpful leaflets. They all summarise the information which is very helpful. If you like to email me a postal address I can send them to you. I can use the local Diabetes trust address for sender’s address if that is appropriate.

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      • The e-mail is ok Glenys as I only venture to my mail box every now and again. On the other hand I’d love to have that leaflet so please post it to the mailbox on my contact page. Lovely

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      • Can’t find the mailbox on your contact page. Am I looking in the wrong place ? I remember post was crazy in Korea too. Email was definitely much easier. But I am happy to post the booklet if I can find the mailbox number.

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      • great. .life is good… keep it up, you will soon be kin,, have you met any of my relatives yet =^_^= the Chen families we are connected to were from the Shangai area, I’m sure it is not called that now. You learning to cook? I had a giggle when you talked of walking into that home thinking it was a hostel…”bold round eyes” You have spirit, I’ll give you that… thanks for the smiles, and the tales.. love them

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      • Hiya Dymoon. Yes I have a feeling we’ll meet up one day. Never been to Shanghai before. I guess I dont like sweet things much and I hear Shanghai ren make all their food sweet including meat and vegetables. yeeech. That and I cant speak Cantonese. I know a few Chens though 😉 As ever its lovely having you drop by Dymoon. Have a fantastic week

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