There's nothing like it to the east, and little to rival it to the west. The town's population swells by more than 80,000 people on Sundays — usually far more.
These unquantifiable hordes — of Uighur, Kazakh, Pakistani, Afghan, Chinese, Dungan, Kyrgyz, Mongol and Russian complexion — put together one of China's most engaging spectacles.
In the livestock section, on the outskirts of town, goats, sheep, cows, donkeys and horses get put through their paces by buyers looking for something special, or just a trusty old beast for the apple cart. Middle-men — ever on the make — busy themselves with the closing of deals.
In the second section the stalls sprawl for more than 2 km through the town. When looking around the bazaar it is important to remember that is primarily for local consumption. Local tastes change over time and though twenty years ago — when the livestock bazaar was the main event — you could feel yourself at the ends of the earth, this is now unlikely to be the case.
There is still the frisson of excitement at seeing large crowds of Uighur men, all in traditional clothing, haggling over a particularly fine cow though you are just as likely to see t-shirts, pots and pans and spare tyres on sale now.
The magic of the event is as a focal point for Southwest Xinjiang and the adjoining countries — Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan in particular.
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