Market day in Shidong


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February 22nd 2013
Published: March 6th 2013
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Day Three in Kaili.

On our third day out with Mr Wee we were heading to the Shidong markets, one of the largest markets in the Kaili region. The market is held in a small riverside town on the riverside shingle, under the span of the long bridge. We left early and an hour later we arrived in the traffic jam of minibuses and motorbikes around Shidong. As we were getting closer to the town we stopped to watch a wedding party. Again all the men were waiting outside a group of houses, the yard full of low round tables covered with the soon to be consumed feast. The bride and all the female members of her family were walking down the road towards the group of men. That day all the women, including the bride, were carrying bags of oranges. She was dressed in a tunic top made from persimmon dyed shiny beaten fabric tunic top, decorated with red embroidered panels, and a double apron type heavily embroidered skirt worn with boots. On her head she wore a band of red fabric with lots of silver hairpins in her hair. She wore strings of large silver links around her neck.


Mr Wee left us on the edge of the town and we headed in the direction of the crowd. The town didn't comprise of much more than one long street on the main road in front of another street which ran parallel to the river. On the banks of the river we could see the bustle of the market - most stalls were under canvas covers. Above them the main vehicle road crossed the river on a narrow suspension bridge - that day more people than cars were using it to cross the river. We spent five hours at the market and had absolutely no trouble filling up the time. Again we didn't see any other tourists, Chinese or other nationalities. We had seen no other Western tourists since Guilin other than the single Canadian man in Chengyang. Every body was very welcoming and happy to let us mingle, take photos and enjoy the atmosphere.

Nearly all the women, young and old, were wearing traditional headdresses though we only saw older women wearing traditional costume. The headdresses comprised of hair in topknots, held in place with a yellow wooden comb which is attached to lengths of what appeared to be fishing line. This line I think then is attached to their silver hair pins - of which there were many that day, as added security in case one falls out. The head is then wrapped with a red striped woven cotton fabric. Their hair pins were very detailed birds, fish, flowers - all with lots of tiny dangly pieces of silver attached. Also most women also had the bright pink artificial roses that we had seen in hair in Kaili. The roses appear to be worn everyday - the fabric band and silver only on certain days. The indigo tunics that the older women were wearing were heavily trimmed with embroidery panels.

We first wandered through the chicken area - this time most of the chickens were literally standing on top of each other in bamboo pens. When they were weighed and paid for string was tied to their legs and around supporting their bodies with a hand hold on top - most at this market left head up as apposed to upside down. From there it was general household goods and cheap clothes. There were a couple of stalls selling DVD's of traditional Guizhou dancing and singing and I was surprised to see how popular they were. Each one had half a dozen TV's showing them and a constantly large group of people standing around watching them. The old men were all wearing the fur trimmed pull down over the ear Russian style hats and blue Mao suits.

From this point the market became really interesting - at least for me. The ethnic minority in this area are all Maio and they are renowned for the jewellery and heavy embroidery work on their traditional clothes. I had seen a bride dressed in her costume the previous day and all the silver pins the women were sporting in their hair that day was another example. The rest of the market, and that was at least half of it, was stalls selling their fascinating silver jewellery and gaily coloured embroidery. A lot of the embroidery pieces are today machine made and there were literally hundreds of fabric squares in all shapes, sizes, designs and colours to be had. But much of the embroidery must still be hand made as there were as many stalls selling silken threads and templates - hand drawn and then cut out of paper, complete with photos of what the pattern would look when it was finished. It was like the Boxing Day sale at Myers - the women were tugging pieces off each other! And none of it was cheap!

One thing we like about markets that are not heavily touristed is that you are usually offered items for sale at the local price. I was not in the market for most of it - though the machine embroidery was beautiful I only ever purchase tiny pieces of handmade work so was happy with my purchase of two little embroidered rectangles sewn on silk which are then attached to the front panels of the indigo tunics. Everything in the fabric area seemed to be selling at the same price on every stall.

The jewellery was weighed out on hand held scales and even the plainest hairpin - no detail at all - was 100 yuan each. Some of the young women were spending hundreds of yuan on pieces - a mother was with her daughter at one stall who choosing wedding silver - she had earrings, half a dozen rings and neckbands and was choosing at least three or four different hairpins - including one bird (sparrow size) hair pin. Anyway it was all great fun - the women were really relaxed and thoroughly enjoying themselves. I know I certainly was.

We had fruit for lunch whilst we watched two people hang noodles out to dry on rows of wooden rails at the end of the market. They were unloading strands of already dried noodles from the back of a truck, dipping them in buckets of water and then hanging the out to re dry. We had a fabulous day and as we were heading back to the car Jerry spotted the local barber and thought he would have a hair cut. Didn't cost much but he did end up with a very short back trim. It thankfully grew back very quickly...Another quick stop on the way home to admire some pretty babies and a few more colourful costumes at a market town enroute to Kaili and dinner that night at 'Happys' the Korean restaurant we had discovered the night before finished our third day exploring the Kaili region.


Additional photos below
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Female Family members going to the weddingFemale Family members going to the wedding
Female Family members going to the wedding

The men were already sitting at the tables just down the road
Another traditional costumesAnother traditional costumes
Another traditional costumes

Fez like hats trimmed with silver chains


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