The Markets of Xining, China

The first market we went to was small and encompassed four blocks of a wide alley. This market was filled with shoes, Calvin Klain knockoff underwear and an assortment of food. The food included “Muslim food”which looks like a round bread about the size of a small plate and you can choose from an assortment of meats and vegetables laid out on skewers of what you want fried and put inside. A spicy sauce tops this.

In the middle of the street were vendors offering roasted corn on the cob and whole roasted potatoes (some were sweet potatoes). The potatoes were our favorite.

The next day we ventured over to Mo Jia Jie market, which was considerably bigger, occupying several long streets. There were all kinds of fresh vegetables and fruit, some we had never seen before. There was also the usual selection of meats where you could clearly tell the type based on the carcass hanging behind it. We saw caged live chickens, ducks and roosters all of which we had seen before in other places such as Guatemala. What we didn’t expect was seeing live pigeons in cages for sale. It wasn’t until then that we realized we hadn’t seen any pigeons since we arrived in Xining.

Turning the corner we found ourselves in the seafood section of the market and this we found rather disturbing. Fish of all kinds, eels and even soft-shelled turtles had been stuffed into tightly packed aquariums live. Having scuba-dived with many of these animals, Ligeia found this particularly difficult to see.

We quickly left that section and started searching for a local specialty called gan mian pi which is cold spicy noodles. In our bad Mandarin we managed to locate it and even say we are vegetarian and we don’t want MSG. The place that was serving it was small with about 6 small tables and small stools to sit on. To go in you needed to go through a door of green plastic strands hanging from the top. If they had been beads it would have been like a hippie door in the 60s. The food came in a small white bowl with two pairs of black chopsticks. Ligeia tried it first and loved it. It was a bit too spicy for Mindy and Ligeia was happy to finish it. We left feeling triumphant.

On the walk home we got a little lost, yet managed to match the street signs all in Chinese symbols to the symbols on our map. Again we felt triumphant.

We’ll be leaving Xining tomorrow and will write more about our impressions of the city.

Check in again soon,
Ligeia and Mindy :):)

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