Monday, September 7, 2009

Turpan’s Colorful Market

(8/25/09) Later in the day, our guide took us in a taxi to the local market in Turpan. It was immensely fascinating with so many bright colors, scents, and textures that it was a feast for the senses. I went with one of the Israeli professors who was a great negotiator and also a professional photographer. The pictures he took of children and old ladies were works of art.

My main goal was to buy some gifts to take home, and so I purchased some beautiful scarves, fabric, and small souvenir items. But then we wandered into the clothing section where there were many Uyghur women sewing clothes on ancient Singer sewing machines – like I learned on when I was very young from my mother. The dresses they were making were fabulous – all with modest high necks, but in bright colors and with very feminine designs. They also made many modest looking “belly-dancing” costumes with gold sequins. I purchased one in green for my daughter.

The prices were good, and they were willing to bargain a little – but not much. My Uyghur guide said to walk away, and then to come back 2 or 3 times. She said that each time the price would be lowered a bit. This seemed to be the case, but it was nothing like the aggressive negotiating in Beijing. Here it was much more subtle.

Equally amazing was all of the fresh fruit, dried snakes coiled in rings; dead lizards; strange native medicine; and wonderful dishes being grilled over open coal fires – including the tempting spicy lamb empanadas; whole grilled chicken; and huge sides of beef. I felt like I had stepped back in time --- and perhaps this was similar to the market during the heyday of the Silk Trail.

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