Shaxi Friday Market – a glimpse into the Tea Horse Road caravan days
Since the days of the teahorse caravans, the Shaxi Friday market has been an important trading and supply for the people of Shaxi. It is still the only day when many kids of produce are available, and villagers still mostly walk to and from the Friday market with a basket on their back. Guests of Shaxi Old Theatre Inn can accompany Mrs. Duan and Shi Xiang or San Mei, the ladies of the Inn who are responsible for purchasing food and cooking for our guests. Much of the Inn’s produce comes from local farmer’s fields, including those belonging to our staff’s families and their friends and neighbors. However certain items can only be purchased on Fridays at the market such as fruit, meat, and fresh mushrooms. While there is a supermarket in Shaxi, fresh produce is not available there.
Shaxi Friday market is the only day when fruit is for sale in Shaxi Valley
Market day is the highlight of the week in Shaxi valley, when everybody congregates in the old town to stock up on produce and exchange gossip. Rows of traditionally dressed Bai matriarchs squeeze together along the kerbside to offer a wide range of local fruit and vegetables, grown with their very own green thumbs. Yi womenfolk in bright scarlet and bold turquoise, trek for hours down from their mountain villages to trade with the lowlanders, making for one of the most colorful and photogenic market days in Yunnan. To the left of the main street is the meat market, where you can find freshly made goats cheese, cow bells and craftsman made horse tackle.
In the wet market, on the right hand side, visitors can find a whole range of unusual local fruit and veg, from skirret and lotus bulbs, to quince and custard apples. Traveling vendors fill the main street, hawking everything from farm tools to fruit trees. Look out for wig makers that buy hair by the kilo (cut and weighed in situ), pavement dentists, and itinerant Han Chinese vendors trying desperately to flog the latest in labor saving devices. Up beyond the minibuses, do not forget to check out the livestock market where piglets, nanny goats and even water buffalo are all available for inspection and purchase. Do not forget to stock up with apples and carrots, as this will ensure that you will quickly be able to make fast friends with any goats, donkeys and ponies that you encounter while out hiking.
On the side of the street you will see dentists practicing, Yi and Lisu women in beautiful traditional dress and blaring music from CD sales people who walk along with a portable player. It is the best day to sample all kinds of exotic produce brought by tribes in the surrounding mountains.
Exclusively for sale in the Shaxi Friday Market:
- Fruits from around Jianchuan County as well as imports
- Meat, poultry and fish
- Chinese medicines and herbs
- Mushrooms and other kinds of wild foraged fungi
- Music, movies and children’s games
- Bonsai and flowers
- Farming tools and hardware
- Spices and dried fruits
There are also many kinds of street food such as:
- Cold noodles and liangfen
- Deep fried sausage
- Home made sweets
Please note that it take 20 minutes by bicycle from Old Theatre Inn to Friday Market and by 2:00 pm the maket will be closed. We recommend that guests plan to arrive at the market by 10:00 am. It is worth it to spend at least an hour walking around on market days. We recommend our local guides to take you on a tour of the market as they are native Bai women who can help interpret everything you experience at Shaxi Friday Market.
>> For more on the Shaxi Friday Market, click here