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Published: October 6th 2011
[written in Ninger, Yunnan province 5 Oct 2011
Our (Karen and Jim's) hotel was just a l00 yards down the hill from Jacob and Lynn's apartment. But what an interesting l00 yards. Very Chinese.
The street itself is maybe l5 feet wide and made of paved rock. And on both sides of that was wide sidewalk. The shops, for the most part were about a dozen feet in width and, if they happened to be closed, were shuttered with those rolled down metal doors you see on old garages. Except that the shops were very rarely closed no matter what time day or night. In China you can step out your door anytime to buy whatever you want.
Do you need toothpaste, a yo-yo, new shoes, underwear, a banana? You can get it, whether it is l0:30 in the morning or ll:30 at night. No problem. And you don't have to drive, just walk a few steps down the street.
One day I tried to be aware of the variety and number of shops in that l00 yards up the hill. There were three stores that sold vegetables, four that specialized in fruits, one bakery
We bought the fixin's for omlettes for seven people here for about 3 dollars
sweet shop, three places selling cheap plastic toys, three that sold household items made of plastic, one drugstore, a travel agency, and at least six restaurants offering noodle dishes or dumpling dishes, not to mention a mah jong parlor, three shoe stores and two fabric stores. There was also a metal fabrication shop (often doing their welding with sparks flying while pedestrians stepped around their work) and a lumber store.
Prominent because of the never ending disco beat blaring from them were the three hair cutting beauty salons - these were run by very skinny young men dressed very fashionably and sporting tall hairdoos. For the most part their clientel were young, equally fashionably dressed, women but some young men as well.
One day I notice a middle aged woman sitting on a stool on the sidewalk. She had her skirt folded on her lap and I could see that she was wearing only her panties. I pretended not to notice but wondered what was up. A couple of days later I discovered that it was an acupuncture venue and the woman was just waiting her turn. What clued me in was another day when I
Ducks for sale
Presumably not for use as pets
saw six or eight patients arranged on stools on the sidewalk with their pants rolled up, their sleeves rolled up and various needles and cups attached.
Another common site on the street was men, and sometimes women, playing cards or mah jong. They would be sitting around a card table with a crowd of bystanders peeking over their shoulders. And again the shoppers and passers-by would be weaving their way around them.
For me that short walk was always fascinating. A real taste of China just outside my door. Something I'll definitely miss when this vacation is over.
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