I noted before that supposedly our neighborhood of Pudong is not a place just wander and explore. But I may just write those travel snobs at the Rough Guide and tell them I beg to differ. There may not be ancient temples and statues, and sure this area was just built to house massive multinational corporations and pampered expats who just want their Starbucks but it is still China. New, interesting, strange and funny things happen this side of the Huang Pu (river) too.
On a rare morning when Nolan decided to nap for longer than 20 minutes, Hunter and I left him sleeping with Jiang and took the opportunity to take a walk to nowhere in particular on streets we’d never been down.
One block away we came upon a “wet market.” At least, I think it’s what they call a wet market. It was enclosed by faux brick walls on a corner. I just happened to see an opening and peaked inside. As soon as I was spotted with a stroller, I was encouraged to come inside. (By encouraged I mean an elderly women nearly knocked me down to get one hand on the stoller and pushed us inside.) There might have been 10 vendors there but between them, they had everything – fruit, vegetables, fish (some swimming, some less fortunate), chickens (alive and clucking), identifiable meats including pig snout and sausage as well as unidentifiable meats. I’d like to believe the chickens were there just for the eggs but I fear the chicken itself might have been for sale as well. I did see someone negotiating with the chicken vendor but we quickly made our way to the other end of the market for fear we might just get to see the old adage about chickens without heads (and I’m pretty sure adages are only to be heard). When we circled back around the chickens were gone but we did not hear anything and there was no mess.
There is a couple who comes to the Mansion a couple of mornings a week with vegetables. They also bring whole chickens but they are at least plucked and unclucked. They look just like play rubber chickens.
I’m pretty sure I got totally ripped off as I realized later that I spent almost $10 for the same amount of fruit Jiang has bought us for about $3. I should’ve said something when the women told me the price for bananas and then yelled something to her friend as they both laughed and laughed.
And I thought it was because Hunter was being cute.
Now, I could try to convince myself that just because I shopped at a “local” market, that must mean the produce I purchased there was also local. And if it was local, then it must be organic, right? Do I worry that my kids are probably eating fruit laced with all sorts of pesticides? Yes. Look at the size of some of those veggies! That’s not normal. But what might be even more worrisome is the sight we witnessed about 10 feet from the local goods.
Have I mentioned diapers are somewhat hard to find? Not impossible but I wouldn’t say “readily available.” We went to Toys R Us our first weekend here and found shelves and shelves of baby wipes but no diapers. When I pointed to Hunter’s diaper sticking up out of his waistband the friendly clerk simply smiled and motioned “no”. Come to find out, diapers are relatively new to China. No, not just disposable diapers but any kind of diaper. The sophisticated yuppies in Shanghai now use them and like most things in China, they’ve become sort of a status symbol. Rich kids wear diapers. What do poor kids wear? Something called “split crotch pants.” Creates quite a visual, no? They are actually more like “no crotch pants” from what I’ve seen. The environmentalist in me knows, this isn’t a bad thing. But when you are going to buy a bunch of bananas and there is a toddler, 10 feet from you, relieving himself, it’s kind of…gross. We don’t actually see this happen that often and I’ve never seen a kid going #2 but still. I have seen it a couple times right on the way to our playground and in gutters around our neighborhood. It must help with potty training but I don’t know how it works exactly, especially with an infant. What happens when they fall asleep in your arms and suddenly nature calls? I sort of want to take a picture of these naked baby bums but it somehow doesn’t seem right.
I only took a couple of pictures. I didn’t want to get ripped off looking like a complete newbie! Oh wait…
The last part of our adventure I will save for tomorrow. It involves the barber and choreography and me figuring out how to post a video here.