I am now back in Beijing, and have been busy showing friends and guests around. We get lots of visitors at this time of year since Beijing can be quite beautiful, with trees turning green, flowers adding colour and blue sunny skies.
Today, I want to share with you some photos from Urumqi, Xinjiang which I have visited several times over the past few years. Each time in Urumqi, I try to go to the main market, Erdaoqiao, to see what's new and interesting. There's so much to see there, I just give a few examples of the colour and variety.All kinds of dried fruits are available from Central Asia and other parts of China.
Woollen carpets made from sheep grazing in the grasslands, they reminded me of my previous Oct 2010 blog on Nalati grasslands.
Uyghurs are the main minority people in Xinjiang, making up almost half the 22 million population there, and the men wear distinctive square hats. There are also Kazakhs and Kyrgyzs.
Yensigar knives are a popular souvenir item. They are named after a town near Kashgar which has been producing them for hundreds of years. They come in all shapes and sizes, and one stall may have over a hundred different types for sale.
These strange objects hanging on display caught my eye. I'm not sure what they are, animal parts probably, and used for traditional medicine.
Woollen tapestries are also popular and this one shows Afanti, a local folk hero who has lots of adventures.
Music plays a large part in people's lives. The instruments are an interesting mix from the West (Central Asia, Persia) and the East, and mainly stringed, wind and percussion.
The market is always full of colour because of the variety of fabrics. Even a hat stall is so different.
Of course I love to visit fabric markets. You can read about the one in Beijing in my March 2010 blog.
I hope to be able to take some of you around Xinjiang one day, remember September/October is the best time, so you should start planning now!