Day 4: Mao, The Dirt Market, Popsicles, Gross Custard, and Foot Massages
I promise to be more regular in writing of my China adventures from now on. Oh how sad…I am eating my last of my favorite Chinese snack, which is basically a sweet and salty, crunchy little rice cake. Farewell, my delicious friend.
I don’t know about you, but when I was in school the things I learned about China are the following are this: 1. They had dynasties. Nobody explained the whats or the hows of this, but I knew emperors ran them. 2. The Great Wall was to protect China from the Huns. This was learned from my faithful devotion to the Disney favorite, Mulan. 3. Chairman Mao was a bad man and made people stand on stools in public with signs around their neck. Also, his face was everywhere.
As a patriotic American girl, I couldn’t write of China without including a picture of the Chairman himself. It was taken while I was at the Dirt Market which used to actually have dirt, but now it has a warehouse and giant murals of Mao. I’m not sure when the change happened, China seems to be experiencing growing pains at the moment. From what I understand, a good amount of people in China have positive feelings about Mao. To be honest, I sort of see why from their perspective. From what I understand of their society, the average man had not really been noticed up until that point. He made them feel important.
Oh, I just realized I didn’t tell you what the Dirt Market is! Not that it requires much explaining, but it’s the largest swap meet I’ve ever seen. I don’t know if swap meet is accurate; perhaps a swap meet that tangos with a flea market. That’s more correct.
Continuing onward with my love of markets, I was mesmerized with the rows upon rows of art, statues, little Chinese doll furniture that I really wish I had bought, kites, shadow puppets, hand-painted teapots, and you get the picture. It’s funny, the outside portion (the part with the giant statues in the picture up there) is full of merchants sitting on these blankets with wares that they bought on the inside part of the Dirt Market that they sell for a higher price. Apparently, uneducated tourists think the outside portion is the real deal. Such as the Caucasian lady pointing aggressively in the photo. Luckily, I had my tour guides to show me the way in.
Something I fell in love with here was these people’s dedication to art. Mari pointed out which paintings were rushed in their making and what teapots were printed not painted, but even so, I saw countless people making their shadow puppets or painting the insides of little jars. It was obvious more work went into their wares than we so often see in our factory-laden America. I have become more conscious of the work and passion I put into my projects since returning from China.
As a quick note, I bought an aventurine (questionable spelling) bracelet that was dyed to look like Jade, it’s actually a very good fake really. A lot of Chinese women wear these bracelets and never take them off, if I’m not mistaken, it brings you good luck! (Yes, I take mine off. I’m taking my chances.)
After the Dirt Market, we ate at a Japanese fast food restaurant called Yoshinoya where I tried a disgusting, warm vegetable custard. I have a picture of it, but I didn’t want to make any readers throw up.
After that, Mari and I found ourselves in a delicious little spa above some teeny store where we got an hour-long foot massage for, get this, $8. An hour. And yes, it was the best foot massage I have ever had. The fancy little bells and whistles were absent from this place with the exception of the classic comfy chairs and lyric-less music, but I will skip the candlelit, wall-painted environment if it means I get a fantastic foot massage for $8. This was also the place where Mari got me to admit that at some point in my life, I would indeed like to get married, even if my spouse does die in a horrific car crash at the age of 30. This was very momentous for me, so I figured I ought to include it in the blog.
After this, we stopped at the Western style grocery store called Jenny Loo’s which smelled very strange and was playing “Auld Lang Syne”. Not that any Westerners actually know what “Auld Lang Syne” means anyway; we just know it’s played at New Years. We got the best Popsicles that a girl could ask for–the green one being some kind of gelatinous substance that was frozen yet wiggled back and forth. The yellow and orange one I’m guessing was mango. I became an expert in eating things without asking about the content.
I am positive that you all have the keenest interest in my Popsicle discoveries.
And with that, I say… nevermind. I thought I was going to say “goodbye” in Chinese until I realized I never learned that word. I can say hello! “Ni Hao!” That will have to do for now.