The official name of the bazaar in the eastern quarter is Kashi Central and Western Asia International Bazaar. It is the largest of its kind not only in Xinjiang, but in all of Central Asia. Business is especially brisk on weekends; all of the trades and the best handicrafts in southern Xinjiang can be found at this bazaar. Foreigners venture forth from Kashi’s hotels and mingle with locals convening there from neighboring areas. Farmers and herders sell their agricultural and by-products on the road outside, and specialties can be found in certain interior sections, such as carpets, Uygur caps, fur hats, silk scarves, Yengisar knives, medicinal herbs, and garments. It seems that the bazaar has become a place of spiritual solace for some of Kashi’s residents too; people go to the bazaar when they’re feeling down, as well as to make money or buy clothes.
The Eastern Bazaar is also the best place to sample Uygur cuisine, such as roasted lamb, boiled mutton, and kebabs. Any method of cooking a sheep can be found here and the gigantic barbeques are themselves works of handicraft. The mutton is cured, covered with egg whites and rolled in spices. Dry twigs collected from the desert are used as firewood for roasting the mutton. The belief is this method creates a crispy outside and tender inside made more delicious by the delicate aromas and taste of wood. After sampling Xinjiang mutton, mutton from elsewhere has lost its temptation.
A unique drink found everywhere is pomegranate juice. Xinjiang’s pomegranates are big, sweet and juicy, and special juicing machines seem to make it especially sweet and palatable. The big bazaar takes hours to explore and drinking pomegranate juice will keep any shopper’s strength up.