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Booming,promising Xinjiang

2013-12-24 10:06:51

(China Today)


Shanshan county in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region is famous for its grapes. This year's sales are likely to be affected due to a recent terrorist attack in the county.

Hospitable People

I was as much impressed by the hospitality of Xinjiang people as by the robust development of the local economy, culture and society. A friend in Beijing once showed me a picture he took at a seafood shop in my hometown, Hokkaido, saying that the shopkeeper kindly grabbed a crab from the tank for this snapshot. He was grateful, as few Chinese clerks would do the same for people who don’t intend to buy anything at their stores. But my experience in Xinjiang proved the opposite. Strolling down the streets of Kashgar one day, I spotted an old-fashioned barber’s shop, and stepped in. The barber, in the process of trimming a customer’s beard, let me take as many photos as I wanted, his only request being, “Capture my skills at their best.”

The kids I met in the street all flashed their biggest smiles when I pointed the lens at them, and the chefs cooking at the Kashgar International Tourism, Culture and Gourmet Festival were similarly cooperative with photographers and journalists. When I approached a young man working a fish grill, he considerately adjusted his position to give me the best angle to capture him at work and the fish over the flame. His arm stayed still in close range of the heat of the flame until I took the photo. At a stall making roasted baozi, the aged chef bending over the stove gestured to me that I could take as many pictures as I would like.

One evening, I was taking photos of the Gaotai Ancient Homes, a six-century-old Uygur settlement built on a high slope to the northeast of the Kashgar old town, when a local boy approached me, asking, “Could I have a go on your camera?” For most travelers, the instinctive reply would be no, as we have personally experienced or heard horror stories of seemingly innocent youngsters with the same request running away with the valuable items unwary tourists place into their hands. But this is not the case in Xinjiang. The boy happily took a photo of me with his brother with my SLR camera before handing it back to me. Seeing his zest for photography, I taught him some SLR basics. Maybe in 20 years the city will see the rise of a great photographer, then I can proudly declare that I was the one who nudged him into the career.

When I ventured down the streets and into shops in Kashgar, many locals stepped up to start a conversation, asking “Where are you from?” or “Why are you here?” They are an open and inclusive people. If you look back through history, it is easy to understand why – Kashgar, a pivotal stop on the ancient Silk Road, has been a melting pot throughout the ages. This trait gives Kashgar people, and actually all Xinjiangers, the acclaim of civilian diplomats as the region’s exchange with Central and Southern Asian countries intensifies.

I believe all visitors to Xinjiang have stories to tell of the kindness of the people there, similar to the one my Beijing friend told of his trip to Hokkaido.

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