As we’ve all heard , Kashgar’s Old Town, a place of 2100 years’ history, is being destroyed. I’m sad to say that I witnessed this on a recent trip I lead through Xinjiang, probably one of the last groups to see the Old Town with our own eyes.
Upon arrival in Kashgar, our local guide told me that only the day before, in the middle of the night, the oldest part of the city was torn down. Here is what it looks like now:
On my last trip to Kashgar only six months ago, this was a street full of hat shops. This time, the old fellow’s shop is probably already under the dust. (Picture taken on Oct 20th 2008)
Our guests asked why this was happening, a question we also wondered. There are many grand plans for tourism development, modernization, and change, plans that all call for the destruction of this area.
Yet look at the kids, how happy they are when they play around the alley where they are living and growing up, in the same way generations of their families have done before them.
Look at this building, what stories could it tell?
Look at this visitor, how amazing is it for her to walk through a town 2100 years old?
It seems that this may be the future of Kashgar:
Ironically, while destroying the real old town, a tourist attraction called “Kashgar Old Town” is being developed. The outside does look like old houses, but inside they are filled with tourist shops selling cheap wares.
Apart from this, some village houses will also have the same fate. Another day in Kashgar, we visited one local family in a village nearby, owner of the house told us they were informed that they’ll be removed to the countryside sooner or later and their houses will be destroyed.