Friday, June 29, 2007

Cixi - The Local Market

So I was in a place called Cixi (pronounced She-She) … Apart from the hotel I was staying at there was no other structure in the area that commanded any presence. This was a small town, probably the smallest I have been to in China so far, yet the roads there are huge. As I have mentioned before, the infrastructure in this country is fantastic. You can always find cable internet and good transport anywhere. I only spent one night in Cixi so I took a walk around the area I was in. The main road near the hotel was so wide that half of it had been turned into a night market where people were selling everything from undergarments to toys, all just laid out on tables on the street.

There were hardly any cars going by, but there was the occasional truck. There are loads of factories in the area so there were tons of people milling around. It was really hot so a lot of the guys were chilling with no shirts on. It was an extremely rural atmosphere but quite pleasant. The street had sort of a carnival theme going on with games to play but people did not seem to be in a carnival mood. I got the feeling that this was not a special occasion but rather a daily occurrence in Cixi. The vendors were really mellow as well and were not aggressively accosting customers. I must have been the only non-Chinese person on that street but no one bothered me and I only attracted the occasional smile or giggle. I was temped to play the football game but that would have gotten people riled up for nothing.

I was searching for something to eat, and I am not too fond of fancy restaurants when I hit the villages. I rather seek out some local grub and that is exactly what I found not too far from the market. It was the only place I saw open and I was starving so I ventured in. Their menu was plastered on the wall and they had a variety of noodle dishes. I chose one with beef. The food was HALAL as well so I was confident the meet would not be too freaky.

At the front of the restaurant a young Chinese bloke was making the noodles from scratch. I have been in other countries where people talk about going to the most posh Chinese restaurant where the chef makes his noodles by had. And here I was where this dude was doing it right on the side of the road without attracting or commanding any special attention. And he made the noodles in seconds and threw them in a pot of boiling water.

One the noodles were boiled, which took only about 5 minutes, they were taken to the kitchen in the back. This old guy was classic. Every time I pointed the camera at him he would hold up the noodles and make this blur look. I got about 5 shots of him like this. And every time he would come up to me after and ask to see the picture, always quite please with his pose. He also sat right by me during my entire meal, not saying a word. It was kind of intimidating because I had to keep gesturing how much I liked the food.

There were a couple of ladies in the back who finished up the cooking by mixing up the noodles with some stir fried beef and veggies. I am not sure where they are from but they look West Chinese. There are more Muslims in that area.

The noodles were served up with a hot bowl of coriander soup. And although the dish was tasty there was just too much of it. But the noodle guy was urging me to eat on so I had to finish the whole plate, veggies and all. They were all quite proud of me. The dish could have used more meat though but I guess you cant really ask for more when the whole meal only cost $1!

With my belly filled I was ready for some more adventure so I wandered into some side streets absorbing the sights and sounds. There were load loads of people wandering around as well but not moving in any steady direction. Some were chilling out while others were simply walking back and forth across the streets. And then I stumbled into a food market. A whole street of hawkers cooking and selling food right on the street with out door plastic chairs and tables for seating. And although the noodles were great I would so rather have eaten here. There was a very jovial atmosphere as families sat around the tables eating, drinking, and talking story. Groups of people I passed even gestured me to join them, which I did for a few beers. I even sampled a couple of these little lobsters that are a local specialty.

Cixi is a small town that was an experience. The people there were super friendly from the staff at the hotel to the folks on the street. But more than a week in this town and I think I would loose my mind. In so may of these rural areas there is nothing else to focus on apart from work but it was nice to see a local scene where normal people were kicking back and enjoying the simple things in life, good food and family. There must be more the town has to offer as well, apart from home appliance factories, but the next day I was off to another town 4 hours away by bus.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

haha i live in cixi (bossman hotel) and you got it to a T . Its a lovely place but well very small and boring after a while.