Enjoyment at Tea-House

    Enjoyment at tea house of the old town of Kashgar, which is over 2000 years old, in the north-west of China is threatened with destruction. In the coming five years about 200,000 people are to be re-housed in so-called earthquake-proof apartment buildings. The project, which began on 27th February 2009, involves the destruction of 85 percent of the basic fabric, which is centuries old.

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   Kashgar has the reputation of being the most important Islamic town in central Asia in terms of cultural history. Only 15 percent of the old houses are to be retained in the framework of an open-air museum to present to the 1.5 million tourists from home and abroad the old Islamic culture. The people affected have not been properly brought into the process of planning the project. Those affected complain that they are not given adequate information on the forthcoming resettlement. Most of the inhabitants were surprised by the arrival of the bulldozers on 27th February 2009. By the middle of June 2009 some 5 percent of the Old Town, including several districts and streets had been destroyed.

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  Tea House in Kashgar Old Town remains popular among residents and tourists alike. It maintains very reasonable prices, with a pot of ordinary tea sold at five yuan. For two more yuan, one can also purchase nang, a kind of crusty pancake common in Xinjiang. The cheap snack is popular among locals, while tourists usually prefer slightly more expensive medicinal teas, such as those containing rose, saffron, honey, and other ingredients.

   In southern Xinjiang, where the weather is dry and the local diet is meat-heavy, tea-drinking is an important tradition, just as it is in other parts of China. The tea house acts as a public gathering place for people to come and socialize. Few of the elderly residents can speak Mandarin, but they are nevertheless willing to communicate with Mandarin-speaking tourists through hand gestures and other movements.

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