Shidong

November 3

Our driver was taking us to Shidong, but on the way he stopped at view points so we might see some of the Miao villages.  He could not speak English but had great understanding of what we were looking for.  Either he knew from experience or May from Kaili's CITS had passed on our preferences ... perhaps both.

On the internet, we were able to read about the Miao ethnic minority, their festivals and their traditional costumes.  Today we were going to Shidong on market day.  We would see them as they are on most days of the year.  We were looking forward to it.

 
  We stopped to view the river and watched as a shallow pea pod boat crossed from one side to the other.  We also met some lovely ladies.  Four of them wore the same headdresses with a long silver pick through their wrapped hair.

Shidong was busy when we arrived and parked on the main street. We used the toilet facilities of a tiny cafe and assumed it was where where we would be eating before returning to Kaili.

We followed our driver on foot along a busy side street.  Most people were carrying bundles and many had live chicken and ducks tied up in a fashion which left the birds relatively unstressed and gave the carrier a handle. 

When we reached the bottom of the street we joined others on a set of stairs and soon found out why.  Before us we saw the river with a wide sandy beach.  On the beach people had set up tables and umbrellas under which they placed what they were selling at market This is where the main part of the market was being held.

Near the bottom of the stairs a barber had set up his stool.  A young boy was having his hair cut.  

Under the canopies there was fresh meat (note the man in the suite talking on his cell phone), vegetables, prepared food, clothing and household goods.  Not under umbrellas were rice drying mats, baskets, brooms, eggs and livestock.  If one were wanting fowl for tonight's dinner a purchased chicken or duck could be slaughtered and plucked right there.   Weaner pigs were another hot item and bartering was strong. 


 
 

As we made our way back up to the main street of town, Angela stopped to look at some Miao silver jewellery.   Miao people regard silver as protection against evil spirits and therefore decorating children with silver is among their customs.  Silver ornaments are usually sewn onto bonnets.  Often these are engraved or embossed with images of a lion, fish or butterfly; or Chinese lettering meaning prosperity, high position, longevity and happiness.  

The custom of wearing silver continues into adulthood particularly for women; from the long silver hair-picks and earrings to elaborate festival headdresses and necklaces.

Angela came to China intending to purchase some Miao silver.   Our driver indicated to Stephen that Angela may not want to buy her jewellery at the open market but to follow him to a shop. 

 

We appreciated he planned to take us there anyway with the thought in mind of earning some commission.

The shopkeeper opened the closed shop and when she realized what interested us the most, she took her stash of silver and dumped it on the floor.  We picked through, narrowing down those pieces which held interest for us and separated in our minds as to the ones we definitely wanted to buy and ones we would take if the price was right.   Angela started off the bargaining.  She was good.  She had even improved since her Great Wall bartering. 

 

After some time of numbers back and forth and the letting go of the could-part-with-choices, they agreed to a price. 

It was Sherrie's turn and Angela stepped in as experienced support.

At the end of it all, we were thrilled with our purchase, the lady was happy with the money she received and the driver hung back for his commission.   

She closed up shop (there were no other Caucasians in town) and, joined by her sister, we all walked down the road behaving like old friends.

   

We did have lunch at the little cafe where we parked and used the toilet.   It was more expensive than "Mama Noodles" but by North American standards would have bought lunch for one.

 
 
 
 

We watch the pedestrian traffic go by the large open doorway and a few of the children accepted Sherrie's golden balloons.  

 

On the drive back to Kaili, we reflected on what a very special day we had.  Tomorrow was another day ... we were going to go to Xijang ... could it possibly be as good as today?   

 

click here to continue to November 4 and to Xijang ...

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