Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Legendary Qing Ping Market

The Cantonese like to say that "anything that walks, swims, crawls, or flies with its back to heaven is edible."

Well, all of these creatures need to come from somewhere, and in Guangzhou that somewhere is Qing Ping market. A guide book we used back in 2004 described the place in this way...you could spend an afternoon with your eyes popping out.

With a billing like that, you know we were gung ho to check the place out. But, alas, we were traveling with others and had a short time frame, so we never actually made it to the infamous Qing Ping.

This time around, though, we were not to be denied, especially since the market is only a few minute's walk from the White Swan. The only problem is that much of the live animal market has apparently retreated out of the alleys to harder-to-find locations, due to the fact that Guangzhou is ground zero for the spread of diseases like SARS and H5N1 avian influenza.

As a result, the only live animals we saw were being sold as pets. This is not to say that we didn't see anything unusual...

There were all kinds of dried mushrooms, snake skins, deer tendons, and other plants and animals used in traditional Chinese medicine. And there were a couple of guys hawking Siberian tiger paws. We have no idea if the paws were the real thing. Just to test them out, I offered them a really low price, but they were not biting at it. Those guys and their product, just like Qing Ping in general, remain a mystery to us.

~Steve

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