A young Uyghur man poses for the camera after afternoon chai in Kashgar.
One of the younger fans, and future player, at a Buzkashi match in Kyrgyzstan, near the Irkeshtam Pass/China border.
Three generations of Uyghur women, and a girl, are preparing the daily meal of Kawa Manta in a traditional city home in East Turkestan. Kawa Manta is a large steamed dumpling made with pumpkin.
Preparing to meet my morning company, Taiwan 2011
Traveling solo for a couple of years, this is one common moment I faced when I did find a cheap place to stay for the night. Sometimes, even my reflection felt foreign to me.
Kyrgyz children watching morning cartoons while the young girl prepares naan and chai for guests. April 2 2012
Because of recent events, I will be posting all things Kyrgyzstan. So much beauty and love in one of the most beautiful Central Asian countries.
I, along with two other cyclists, were rescued from a deadly blizzard by this family. We were warmed, housed, and fed by such a wonderful group of Kyrgyz.
Two Uzbek sisters spend the hot afternoon embroidering. Uzbekistan, Summer 2012
I overheard tourists in Bukhara and Samarkand that were going crazy for buying these cloths. They would explain their bargaining skills with the women at the bazaars and would pay between $15-$35 USD for the size of one on the left. These young ladies told me it takes approximately three months to complete one. Maybe foreigners should think why their souvenirs are so cheap…
Young Uyghur men install counterfeited software and exchange bootleg movies after a day of working in the orchards. September 2012, East Turkestan
Many would be surprised how aware of technology and pop culture the people of East Turkestan (the far Western reaches of China) are. Many covet the latest iPhone and can talk about Hollywood blockbusters of the last decade. Also, quite aware of local fashion trends; where the men dress more hip and Western than the Han Chinese majority.
Because of limited news resources, many use websites like the BBC to follow modern news and politics. The Uyghurs in cities that have followed through with high school education are free thinkers, inquisitive, and very well aware of what’s happening in their own country and elsewhere. Even in the countryside, there is intelligence and a curiosity. They know what is going on politically and religiously…perhaps no computers or iPhones, but there are rumors of underground newspapers circulating and secret meetings among men.
Boys take time out from unloading cabbage for an impromptu game of “basketball”. Zamyn Udd, Mongolia July 2010
Zamyn Udd is a Mongolia border town to China. The vehicles are loaded in Erlianhaote and then shuttled across the border, supplies ranging from produce, milk, to toilet paper. The Gobi is vast desolate desert but China has had some progress preventing desertification within their borders, including the Taklamakan. Crossing from China, where they have planted trees and initiated an irrigation system, into Mongolia you see the quality of life drop drastically.
Most of these supplies are then loaded onto the train and transported en route to Ulaanbator. Train cars are over loaded and you are often required to rest against other passengers cargo of supplies and produce.
A Mongolian shepherd in Inner Mongolia proudly gives a tour of his portable “yurt” on wheels. In a classic yurt, the stove would be in the center and no plumbing, of course.
Uyghur couple near Aksu, East Turkestan, September 2012
Many in the West have this idea that Muslim men and women do not interact with one another, a segregated culture. I have found this to be quite untrue through out East Turkestan and often in Central Asia. This husband and wife were nearly always side be side, whether in the home, picking cotton, or working their personal fruit orchard.
A Uyghur dentist near Aksu, East Turkestan (Xinjiang, China), 2012
Muslim women in East Turkestan are often educated and find themselves in high positions of employment. Although the Uyghurs are generally a lesser educated and poorer minority of China, because of politics/government, they take great care in good hygiene and oral care (by comparison to the countryside/poor Han).
Once, during a conversation with a young lady of the Hui minority (the other Muslim minority) said, “Oh, we are not like Uyghurs, they are dirty people…they eat with their hands.” I could never understand this mentality, as I’ve eaten with my hands countless times, even at Uyghur weddings. Homes are extremely clean, by Chinese standards, and they wash their hands, feet, and brush their teeth daily.