Monday, September 20, 2010

PICTURE POST!!! Xinjiang, China: The PEOPLE

Ok, I'm trying to sort through the billions of photos I have to show you my amazing trip through Xinjiang, China. I'll try to keep these posts from being waaayyy to long by showing you just the cream of the crop! If you'd like to see my whole facebook album, you can click here -- you don't even have to be on facebook to see it, it's open to the whole public, so feel free to check it out!

I'll divide my pics for you according to the following: The people, the places, the landscapes, the food, and me in the midst of it all.

What you need to know first:

During my trip, I was able to visit: Urumqi, the most landlocked city in the world. It is the city farthest from an ocean or sea and is the capital of Xinjiang; Turpan, located in the world's 2nd lowest basin and known for its ancient ruins and grapes; and Kashgar, an oasis city once a major stop along the ancient Silk Road (a trade route that stretched from modern day Turkey to Xi'an, China).

Xinjiang is the home to the Uighur people (pronounced "wee-gur"), an ethnic group quite different from the Han Chinese. Going there feels like you are traveling to a different country. They speak a language derived from the Turkish family that is written in an arabic alphabet. They are predominantly Muslim and are known as excellent businessmen, merchants and traders...probably due to their geographic home being between major nations. I found that everyone I met was extremely kind, and more warm and friendly than I had met in most of my other Chinese travels. I was so grateful to be there.


At a traditional Uighur restaurant in Urumqi. The restaurants all have a space for Muqam, traditional Uighur music, to be played during the meal. It is also accompanied by dancing.

A Uigher man in Urumqi showcasing a traditional dance: the thing I found amazing here was that this is just a normal Uighur's not a tourist destination. So this dancing is not put on for's just the ACTUAL current culture!

In a city park in Urumqi, Uighur Muqam players

Market day in a small village outside of Kashgar

This boy is selling large blocks of ice at the market...the people used them to place under the slabs of meat they bought for their rides home...most of them came into the village on donkey carts.

Dinner party in Urumqi

Yultuz and Kunduz's mom, Mrs Sidik (standing in the center, red dress), graciously invited me to join a dinner that she hosted for her oldest friends. These women have all been friends for over 30 years and get together to catch up several times a year.

the kids table: These "kids" are like extended family to each other and all dutifully come along to the dinners their moms host. I think it's fun to guess which kid goes with which mom!

After dinner, the tables were cleared and they took turns showcasing traditional Uighur dances. It turns out, they are almost all professionally trained dancers. This woman is a cousin of the Sidiks and has traveled around the world dancing, has been on TV, and is famous for her dancing. Needless to say, it was an incredible gift to get to watch all of them perform.

Me with Yultuz (standing) and Kunduz (next to me) and one of their good friends. I met Yultuz and Kunduz during my first year through a mutual friend, and they have been extremely dear friends to me during the past 3 years. They've shared so much with me about their culture and faith, and now their home with me. I adore them so much and can't wait for them to move to the States (they are trying to apply to study abroad) so I can see them again!

No comments: