Historically, Kashgar was an important stopover for the merchants traveling along the Karakorum Highway from Europe to China, and the abundance of markets still speaks for itself -- Kashgar is a global crossroads for the travelers and tradesmen who come from Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, or mainland China. Kashgar is located in the Uyghur Autonomous Region of China, where most of the people speak Uyghur, a Turkic language, as opposed to Mandarin Chinese. Ethnic difference has caused a series of problems since the time when Uyghur AR was made part of China, and major demonstrations have been held in the past few years, followed by oppressive retaliation from the government of China.
The population of Kashgar is mostly Muslim, and seeing the entire market kneel before the Id Kah Mosque for prayer is a good reason to stay in a Kashgar hostel nearby. Not far from the mosque you will find the remains Kashgar Old Town, comprised of clay buildings with intricate decorations above the porch. You may be surprised to learn that the Old Town of Kashgar was the main filming location for the film "The Kite Runner" instead of Kabul (where the action really takes place). Kashgar Old Town is beautifully lit up at night and you can observe it from the other side of the river while munching on some local snacks from the market.
The Kashgar Sunday Livestock Market is a must-see -- people of all ethnic groups from the area arrive here to trade animals of all sizes from camels to chickens. The smell is strong, but this place will truly transport you back two thousand years into the past, when the Kashgar market started, on its way to becoming the biggest market in Central Asia.
For daytrips outside of town, ask your hostel about Shipton's Arch, Karakul Lake, or the border town of Tashkurgan (you can go up to the border post with Pakistan, and at these altitudes it is likely you will even have snow!).
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