So the tour I booked saw us staying one night in Yining city, Yili region, with a little evening tour of the ‘minority ethnic streets’. Yes, evening – this is broad daylight at 8pm or so because all of China follows Beijing time (GMT+8) even when we are at the far west border.
We sat in decorated horse-drawn carts – the cart could sit 6 comfortably, including the driver. Mostly I was wondering whether we were too heavy for the horses but the cart-driver told me not to underestimate the horse.
Around the neighbourhood we went, and visited several house-shops. Some owners of well-maintained houses open up portions of their homes for view – the garden and dining area, the living room, and in one case, the prayer room.
Here’s a dining room with Uigher & Russian influences which the owner claims he designed. Apparently, many of these owners have, at some point in their lives, lived in Russia (and also have Russian blood somewhere in their ancestry). The merchandise available in these house shops (usually laid out in a spare room) tend to be scarves or little trinkets out of Aladdin.
And of course there’s the classic little cultural performance that all tours include –
Mostly amateur but still entertaining. There was this really cute 70+ year old man who did a lively balance-a-flower-pot-on-head dance and received the loudest cheers.