Hard bargains

Driving hard bargains

Kashgar’s Sunday Market is one of the great bazaars of Central Asia – the market just before Eid celebrations in 2012 meant the place was even busier and more raucous than normal.

This clothes seller offers up an uncertain scowl as her customer hems and haws at the selection on offer. Behind, shashlyk dealers fan their charring skewers, readying lunches for hungry shoppers.

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Excerpt Alert! Fill your boots with Guangxi goodness

After thousands of words covering thousands of kilometres, I’m at a big new frontier in this old travelogue project – I’m finally about to leave China for good. Sniffle.

Travelling in China, and of course writing about travelling in China, continues to astound me – the varied landscapes and diets, melodies and faiths, and the stark divide between the medieval and the 23rd Century.

It feels almost ridiculous to consider China in the singular – it’s anything but (despite the obvious role of the Party in everyday life). In reality, there are hundreds of Chinas, thousands maybe, and they feel like they go on forever. By the time I got to Kashgar in the west of Xinjiang, I was closer to the Mediterranean than to the Pacific – closer to Ankara to its own capital of Beijing.

So, as I begin to write about finally crossing that rumpled border into neighbouring Kyrgyzstan, I feel I’m saying goodbye once again to a country so enigmatic and baffling that I get a little misty eyed. Just mist, mind. Not actual tears. OK, one tear.

To commemorate the little milestone in the progress of this (seemingly neverending) book, I’m including here an excerpt from one of my earlier chapters. Oh yes. I’m literally giving literally away 1,695 words on those first impressions from the ruggedly handsome province Guangxi, home to the snaking River Li and its towering limestone mountains. Your own impressions, reviews, comments, raves etc. are, as always, welcome 🙂 Continue reading

Ordaishki Road

Ordaishki Road

In the collapsing backstreets of Old Kashgar, streetsigns guide travellers in Arabic, Chinese and English.

As the town is slowly razed and rebuilt – with mudbrick houses demolished, and alleys paved into roads – it’s hard to tell how meaningful the old signs will be in the future.

Rainbows in arches in rainbows in arches…

Rainbows in arches in rainbows in arches...

Another portal to another beautiful medressah, this time in Bukhara, Western Uzbekistan.

The dozens of colourful little concave nooks played with your sense of dimensions – look at them too long, and you fall into a dizzying kaleidoscope nonsense world. Or maybe that was the stomach bug talking…