Sandstorm in Hotan

Our day started rather early with a pick up at 5:30 to leave for the airport. We were moving again and flying to Hotan while crossing the Taklamakan desert on our way.

good morning in Urumqi

sunrise at the airport Urumqi

After an unpleasant experience at the security check (where my empty water bottle was thrown away) we had another unpleasantness in store. Our flight was delayed from 7:55 to 11am. Great, getting up early and then wasting the day away at the airport, exactly what one wants on one’s vacation. And me without a bottle and no place to buy one, really this was not going to be my day. The delay lasted almost four hours but once the plane set down in Hotan we understood the reason for it. There was a major sandstorm and the world here looked like I image the aftermath of a nuclear war.

sandstorm in Hotan

A driver was waiting for us outside the airport, so the guided tour really worked smoothly. On the way into the city we saw police all over. Guarding cross sections with tanks and in full fighting equipment which included shields and water cannons. It reminded me a lot of Tibet.

We arrived at our hotel (which I can’t find online) and met there our German-speaking guide Patty. Patty turned out to be nice guy who wanted to practice his German with us but was less interested in actually working as a guide nor did he have the knowledge. He informed us that our trip into the desert would be postponed for a day that he would walk with us to the Sunday market (no idea why it was called the Sunday market when we were there during the week), a big market that is apparently open every day. All the while the sky was full of sand and Sylvia and Babsi walked around with their face masks. I figured that one day in these conditions wouldn’t hurt me and left off this frightening device. Instead I tried a local specialty, some bread filled with lamb fresh out of the oven which tasted heavenly until I had my first bite of meat. It was mostly fat and sinew and no meat. Not really to my liking.

walking around in Hotan

street food in Hotan

Sunday market @Hotan

Sunday market @Hotan

Sunday market @Hotan

Sunday market @Hotan

Sunday market @Hotan

Patty then chose to leave us so that we could explore the market alone and to find the way back to the hotel by ourselves since he had to take care of a second group. Not really the guided tour that we had booked. Since we didn’t know that there were quite a lot of different sections at this market we slowly walked back to the hotel and tried instead to find the promised old buildings.

The agency lady had convinced us to absolutely go to Hotan since the buildings were so much more original than in the other cities of Xinjiang and the whole place a lot less touristic. She was right about it being a lot less touristic but the old buildings were all gone. We later met other tourists who told us that only as short as five years ago Hotan was still in its original state and very beautiful. Nothing at all was left of this. The Chinese as usual were thorough, something you can rely on.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in the hotel, sleeping and trying to get online. The newest meanness of the Chinese was to block ‘What’s App’ so there was no way to get in touch with home except via email. Also with the sandstorm still shutting down the city not much was happening. And of course Patty was busy with his other clients.

our beautiful hotel @Hotan

Pollybert at the hotel in Hotan

For dinner we met Patty again who sent us with a taxi to the night market, only to later come with his other guests in the company car. I really like how well he organized this little excursion especially since the market was all but closed down. We managed to buy some sticky rice for Sylvia though who had stayed back with a stomach bug. Besides the sticky rice the market offered all kinds of offal (testicles included) and eggs.

night market @Hotan

night market @Hotan

night market @Hotan

night market @Hotan

That was basically it. Not really what I wanted to have for dinner. To go back I insisted on sharing the company car with the German tourists instead of paying for a taxi again and of course it was not a big deal.

Dinner we eventually had at a restaurant next to our hotel, and ate something called polo. It was really tasty and even better, it was made with rice. Loved the yogurt that was served alongside. Yours, Pollybert

dinner @Hotan

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