Living Like a Local: On the Street Again!

Today’s Post by Ken MacAdams

Wiping sleep from my eyes, I heard the jovial voices of some of my elderly neighbors as they returned from the market. The early bird may get the worm, but I’ll bet they won’t run out of turnips before I get down there at a reasonable hour! I can’t imagine scaling a fish with bare hands at 6:30 AM, with the mercury hovering down near 36 degrees F!

At a more reasonable hour, like 8:30, I was out high stepping the street. Now, a robust 42 degrees and climbing, I still shuddered passing the fish stall, as the fishmonger was dipping a live one barehanded from his tank. I glanced across the street and spotted a “so China” moment; an older gentleman balancing his baskets of lemons on a bamboo yoke across his shoulder! I watched him set down the well worn and polished pole, place his scale on a small wooden stool, put two lemons on the scale, and make a transaction. With a fluid motion he shouldered the bamboo yoke and was off wandering down the street, looking for his next sale!

Skipping the turnips, I stopped at the chicken man’s stall, and pointed at a couple of nice skinned chicken breasts lying on his table. A nearby lady turned to me and rattled off something in Chinese, and quickly pointed to some scrawny chicken thighs with attached feet, obviously her choice! Since I’ve learned the meat on chicken feet is rubbery, I turned down her suggestion, and with a smile, pointed again at the breasts! As I made my payment, pulling out a couple of 20 yaun notes, the lady kept an alert eye on the chicken man, lest he might overcharge me! Picking up my bag, I got a grin from the seller, one from the shopper; a meal and a memorable experience, all for a couple of bucks!

Everyone’s so helpful here on the back streets to a foreigner without the language! With the chicken in my backpack and camera in hand, I couldn’t help but wander down past the friendly guy making the thin breakfast burritos, as I call them! Taking my place in line, I watched as he quickly whipped out numerous thin Chinese pancakes for those in front of me, and then it was my turn! What a showman! As I left, munching away, approaching locals would break into a grin, a foreigner enjoying one of their favorites!

Heading back to the apartment, I overtook a little old Chinese lady, stooped over and walking slowly. Passing her by I looked at her purchases; one long onion shoot, a cabbage, and a few eggs—she was set for the day! No folks, this isn’t Chinatown! This IS China! This is living like a local!

All images with a Panasonic Lumix G85, Lumix G Vario 12-60mm Power OIS lens, AWB, Program mode, Auto ISO.