Hotan Journals

China's Wild West - Hotan

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An April 2006 trip to Hotan by Elisabeth28

Travel Photo by IgoUgo memberMore Photos
Quote: The Southern Silk Road is seldom visited by Westerners, but there is no better place to experience Xinjiang's traditional culture. If you're looking for authentic untouristed markets, desert oasis towns where donkey carts outnumber cars, and the real flavor of Uighur life, Hotan is the place to come.

China's Wild West - Hotan

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Overview

Travel Photo by IgoUgo member
Quote:
Hotan is one of the few major cities in Xinjiang that is still largely dominated by the Central Asian Uighur minority; for the traveler weary of the sameness of eastern China, it feels almost as though you have entered another country. The primary reason we came was to visit the Sunday market, which is second in size only to Kashgar's and is still very much an authentic local affair, which Kashgar's increasingly is not. The traditional crafts from which Hotan derived its Silk Road wealth and fame, carpets, silk, and jade, have declined in the modern era, but the carpet and atlas silk factories and numerous jade workshops give a taste of how it was done in the old days. For another glimpse ...Read More

Hotan Cultural Museum

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Attraction

Quote:
The Hotan Cultural Museum, recently re-opened after extensive renovations, is housed in a clearly modern but rather attractive neo-"traditional" building, located two blocks east of Hotan's main square (take bus #2). When we visited on our second morning in Hotan, we arrived around 9:30am to only find that it didn't open until 10; however, an employee saw us at the gate and ushered us into his office to wait. From his hospitality and questions about where we had heard of the museum, we concluded that they don't get many visitors. This is unfortunate, because it turned out to be one of the best small museums I have ever seen. It consists of a single room ringed with well-lit display cas...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 1, 2006

Hotan Sunday Market

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Attraction

Sparkly fabrics for sale  Photo, Hotan, China
Quote:
Our primary purpose for coming to Hotan, one of China’s most remote cities, was to visit the weekly market; we had heard that it was one of the few authentic, untouristed bazaars left in Xinjiang, now that Kashgar is becoming more developed. Our taxi dropped us off near the mosque, on a chaotic street jammed with donkey carts, chicken cages, displays of colorful polished rocks, and stalls heaped with all manner of dried fruit, nuts, spices, and other food. From there we made our way along streets choked with donkey carts, motorbikes, and pedestrians to the main market area. It is very much a local affair; we didn't see a single white face, and very few Han Chinese. Like many Uighur cit...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 1, 2006

Carpet and Silk Factories

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Attraction

Carpet factory Photo, Hotan, China
Quote:
Hotan's carpets and silk have been famous for literally thousands of years, and though the traditional methods of manufacture have been supplanted by modern mechanized techniques, the old ways are still practiced (mostly for the benefit of tourists, I'm sure) in two small factories to the east of the city. The carpet factory consists of a single room perhaps 50m by 20m filled with rows of tall looms. About half of the looms were in use when we visited, though almost all had partly-finished carpets on them. The weavers were all women (though the overseer was a man), sitting 5 or 6 to a bench and each working on her own section of carpet. The carpets are made from thousands (probably mil...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 4, 2006

Across the Taklamakan by bus

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Story/Tip

Travel Photo by IgoUgo member
Quote:
It is said that Taklamakan means "you go in and never come out." Whether this is true or not I will leave linguists and anthropologists to decide, but the fact remains that the Taklamakan desert, in the heart of Xinjiang, China's westernmost province, bears a fearsome reputation that has come down through generations of travelers. It was not always thus - many centuries ago, rivers fed from the snows of the towering mountains along the Tibetan border extended far into arid Tarim basin, enabling the creation of great cities that formed a network of waypoints along the Silk Road. Gradually the climate changed, however, and the desert expanded inexorably southward. One by one the cities were abandoned, l...Read More

A Bit of History, and a Dance Show

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Story/Tip

Travel Photo by IgoUgo member
Quote:
In this entry, I'd like to describe an anecdote that does not fall into the category of typical tourist experiences but that I feel none the less revealed quite a lot about the culture and atmosphere of both Hotan and southern Xinjiang. Forgive me if my description rambles a bit, but a bit of background on both the May First holiday and Xinjiang's history will allow for a more nuanced understanding of the event we witnessed. The occasion for our trip to Xinjiang was the May-first holiday, the week surrounding International Workers Day. Though completely forgotten or rather lamely observed in much of the West, May First is still a very big deal in China, on par with National Day in October,...Read More