We have a story and a half about getting out of Kashgar!
A combination of poor map reading skills and overwhelmingness of people, traffic and roads led us to circumnavigate Kashgar by 180 degrees via its outer ring road – alarm bells started ringing when we saw signs saying “Kashgar City Centre, this way –>”
We turned back and with the light slowly fading we came off the main road and started asking people if we could camp in their courtyards. After our third rejection we asked a group of men standing on the roadside and one of them led us to a community centre building with a large courtyard in the centre. Much to our relief we weren’t to be subjected to the cold and were brought up to a small office with a bed. We were settled and thought we were in safe hands, would have a good sleep and be able to finally get out of the city early in the morning, until someone decided to tell the Police…
The Policeman did the usual ‘stare at our passports and pretend he understood what it said’. He seemed not to have a problem with us being there.
Half an hour later whilst we were eating some food in the restaurant across the road – he handed Julia his phone. Having previously encountered the most senior english speaking Policeman earlier in the week when Beth got her phone pickpocketed, we were not surprised to receive an earful down the line. “It is not safe outside” he said, “But, we are not outside” she replied. “You have to go back to your hotel”….”But it’s not safe outside”.
Anyway Julia hung up as he was just ranting on and not going to be persuaded. We thought we’d be able to explain to the other Policeman (it was almost 11pm by this point) but he, as all Police in China (so far!) seemed not to see reason, and escorted us out of the community centre and drove alongside until we reached the lit main road heading towards the city centre. There he said we could go ourselves to the hotel.
Well there was no way we were going 5km into the city just to stay in a hotel! We rounded a bend out of sight of his car that was sat watching us and ducked into the dark parallel side road, obscured from the main road by a line of trees. We doubled back on ourselves and asked a couple who were chatting outside their house if we could sleep anywhere. Finally! Someone understands that foreigners don’t need 5 star treatment, just a small room, piled to the ceiling with cardboard boxes, cold but dry, will do!