Alex and I rode a bus for 24 hours yesterday (and the day before) to get to Kashgar, a remote city in Xinjiang. We both think that we're practically in another country. Xinjiang is officially an "autonomous region", but when the people in the second largest city in the region don't speak Mandarin, I think it's a weak grasp on statehood.
We checked into a hotel, put down our stuff, and headed out to find some dinner. We hadn't had much to eat on the bus, so we were pretty hungry. We went into the first place that looked like a restaurant, where we were greeted by a guy. I said "Hello" in Uighur, using a full fifth of my Uighur vocabulary in the effort. He didn't speak Mandarin.
We mimicked a menu; he said they didn't have one. We were out of options for selecting food, but we were hungry, so we sat down and looked at him. After a few seconds, he must have decided that we wanted to eat there regardless. He went into the kitchen and returned a few minutes later with a bowl of broth and some kind of meat. We weren't very excited about that, so he came back with some pasta. That seemed safe. He went back to the kitchen and we had ordered.
After a few minutes, some soup came out. The noodles were thin, but the flavor was good. There were little balls of some kind of meat (probably lamb) which I thought looked pretty good, but Alex thought looked really fatty. He had better instincts, because fifteen minutes after that I was hit with a huge urge to run to the bathroom in our hotel and barely made it in time.
Our dinner also included rock-hard bread. The bread here is fantastic, but when the bread clanks (literally) as you put it on the bowl, it's less tasty.
We figured out how much he wanted for the meal, paid, and left. That was our wordless dinner in Kashgar.
Right now Alex and I are leaving for a two-day trek to a lake where we might be able to ride camels. We were too impatient to get into a foreign country, and since our flight was delayed into Xinjiang, we wouldn't have had much time. Instead, we're trying to maximize fun things to do within China.
We've run into a hitch because Alex is having a difficult time getting flights out in time for his flight from Beijing to America, so right now we're sitting in the travel agent's office, with the driver for our car anxious to start driving us into the middle of nowhere, but being held up by ticket prices and availabilities.
Thankfully, though, breakfast went okay this morning and I feel full.