Sights: Bazaar Day in Shaxi Ancient Town (沙溪古镇赶集日)
Region: Jianchuan County, Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan
"茶马古道上唯一幸存的古集市" highlighted Shaxi Ancient Town as the only surviving ancient bazaar (古集市) on the Ancient Tea-Horse Trail (茶马古道). The bazaar is not just kept alive by culture but also a massive one that involves the seven to eight villages around the town. It is the one marketplace where the local Bai ethnic minority (白族) people can trade or get fresh goods.
The bazaar is held on Fridays only. It is about the only time the usually quiet Shaxi Ancient town will come alive. So, a trip to Shaxi Ancient Town requires careful planning to include at least a quiet day to tour the town and a Friday for the lively bazaar.
The Bazaar Day
As usual on every Friday, the first thing to do was to carry big empty baskets and walk miles from their villages to the bazaar in Shaxi Ancient Town. That was part of the life of the Bai minority people around the ancient town.
The bazaar was not in a fixed location but setup along Sideng Street (寺登街) that ran through the whole town. Other streets and spacey compounds were also used for more vendors to trade their fresh produces.
As bazaar day was held on every Friday, the locals need to purchase groceries and necessities for up to 7 days as the next bazaar day would be a week later. This was why the ancient bazaar was still alive, it was too important for the locals. And they would always fill their baskets on this day.
Most of the products sold were farm produces, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans and all sorts of grains, apart from other household stuffs. Stalls selling fresh fruits were the most common.
One of the rarely seen veggies was the purple carrot (紫萝卜) that were smaller than the common orange carrots. The way we tried it was to just wash it and eat raw. Yummy!
Not to be missed were the stalls selling handmade traditional snacks and food that lined the bazaar. We settled brunch at most of these stalls.
Below was the traditional liangfen (凉粉), or cold noodle, of the Bai minority people. It was a popular local dish that were available on other days too and was one of our "staple" during the long stay in Shaxi Ancient Town.
Read more about liangfen:
Around lunch time, we were back at Horse Pen 46 Youth Hostel with our purchases. Most of the hostel staff, guests and us had bought fresh fruits. All of us shared what we bought and had a "fruit-ful" after-lunch dessert. It was such a joyous time to mingle together.
After the fruity dessert, we were directed to outside the town for more of the bazaar. And it was located on the other side of the river.
It was an open space where live cows, horses and pigs were sold. Meats could be purchased from the bazaar but this was where the locals would get livestock — usually not as food or probably not for immediate consumption.
The livestock section was located outside town to prevent animals dungs from dirtying the streets.
Once everyone had gotten what they need at the bazaar, they would carry their full baskets and walk back to their villages.
Do you find the views and landscape outside Shaxi Ancient Town beautiful? I like the scenic views and spent days strolling around the area. Check out more photos in the next post.