Thursday, March 1, 2012

The China Diaries: To Market, To Market

Last week, I went to a market with some members of Chinese staff at my school. One of them was in the market for a bird or two. The others ended up impulse-buying dogs, which is not so unusual a thing to do in China. They don't seem to look at dogs as requiring the amount of care and responsibility we do in the West. Either way, I was there to document the events in pictures. This was the most crowded market I have ever been in, so many of these pictures aren't perfect. I could only fight the tide so often. As is always the case with Thoughts Dowinion, if you click on these photos you will be taken to a much larger picture.

You can buy many, many things in a Chinese market. While part of this one specialized in pets, other sections sold things as varied as hardware, tea sets, and, in this case, random animal parts. They are used for medicinal purposes. Some highlights from this picture include the giant fungus, the goat or impala horns, and the bear paw.

I don't know why these massive bowls were filled with egg, fish, some unidentifiable meat, and two spices, but I bet it smells amazing in the summer. I want to say they aren't for human consumption, but nothing in my experience of China would lead me to feel safe about that as an assumption.

Countless cages and containers full of hamsters could be found. The cages, for the record, are not that small, but all the hamsters in all of the cages liked to huddle together in these tight masses. Of all the animals in a market where PETA wouldn't be able file injunctions fast enough, the hamsters were probably the best-cared for.

Answering the life-long question "How do they get the turtles to the pet store." I took a few pictures before the owner of this store said "No no no no no."

The original purpose of the trip was for Agatha to buy a bird. She wanted a bird that could talk, but they all proved to be outside her price range. Her first step down the ladder was this lovely little guy. The next few photos are of different birds in the market. The only one I can name is the Budgie in the middle two pictures. They're all nice to look at, named or otherwise.

This little guy was in the running for purchase as well. Agatha spent about a minute trying to get him to talk before it was pointed out to her that he's not a parrot. This was of great disappointment, and so he was passed over. I liked him, though. He had character.

She settled on a pair o' keets. Here we witness the sexing of the birds. She wanted a boy and a girl so that they would reproduce one day. In the name of continuing the species, the birds had to undergo this humiliation. Perhaps the shared experience will have bonded them.

Here's the happy couple, already seemingly unaware of the embarrassment they've endured. Love heals all, apparently.
The birds were in one section of the market, the fish in another, and the cats and dogs in yet a third. Above, a man stares deep into the eyes of a puppy while holding his cigarette. The Chinese for the most part view dogs as accessories, I think. Not necessarily in the Paris Hilton sense of accessories, but they aren't viewed as a part of the family like they are in the states. For example:

When Jessica bought her dog, they gave it to her in a plastic bag, much as the checkout clerk at The Home Depot would give you your bundle of wire and new hammer in a plastic bag. She still carries it around in that bag, ten days later. Below, you can see him sans bag.

I am sorry for the lack of pictures of the market as a whole to give you a better idea of the area itself. I'll keep that in mind for future write-ups.