Tourists believe that Turkestan is a Kazakh Mecca. Most of them manage to see just the hotel they stay in and the Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi. This trip to Turkestan will be different because we will skip the legendary burial vaults but visit the heart of the city which is its central market.
It is better to photograph the market in summer when it is full of melons and watermelons, smelly sweet pepper and dried apricots, with lively locals saving themselves from heat with koumiss.
The market in winter is a combination is slush, ice and freezing air. But no one will ever say anything bad about it because it is the market which lets these people provide for their families.
Turkestan with a population of about 250 thousand people, has just 13 working industrial enterprises. They say their main enterprise is their market. It is a place where the cityâ€™s economy is concentrated. Over half the population of Turkestan is able to survive only due to the market.
Alexander lives close to the market. He was a mountaineer who used to travel a lot. In the 80s, he damaged his backbone so now he has to beg.
A 200-tenge bond (which is equivalent to $1.35) is the most demanded at the market.
You can have your shoes repaired for this money. In winter, these men work from 8 a.m. to make about 1,200 tenges ($8.10) a day.
You can also have your hair cut for 200 tenges.
Men and women have their hair cut in different buildings.
They donâ€™t sell licensed disks, washing powder, shampoo and other detergents here. All of it is counterfeit and is produced in the buildings nearby.
Soft heelless boots and rubbers are the most popular kind of shoes here in Turkestan.
They sell rubbers for about 200 tenges.