I came up with the idea to start posting on touristy things to see and do in my own adopted town and this is installment #2. Yesterday I went to YuYuan Garden on a quest to buy some gifts for people back home. The school year is winding down and we have 1 week left before I will be heading back to Canada for some much-needed R and R. The shopping trip was a great opportunity to snap some pictures of this busy market area.
YuYuan Garden is an actual garden, but I have yet to visit. Each time I have gone we have hit the shops and braved the crowds. After which has worn us out and we have headed back home. Yesterday was no exception as I carried my heavy purchases and was on sensory overload. After a few hours in the heat, pollution, bargaining, searching and walking it was time to head home. Shop til you drop certainly held true after this shopping trip.
I was in search of the Commodities Market adjacent to YuYuan Garden shopping area. The area is laden with a variety of shops selling cheap trinkets, souvenirs, colourful collectables, fake watches and bags, decorations for Christmas, Chinese New Year and Weddings, jewelery, leather goods and more. We strolled the long way round (accidentally) as we looked for our destination. As we went I snapped a few photos of the crowds and buildings with their old tiled and traditional curved rooves. Sometimes I took a turn down a street where boxes were being loaded, unloaded and unpacked. I felt this behind the scenes peek was forbidden tourist space, rather than public access, but no one took notice as they went about their daily chores. This is something we rarely glimpse at home since it is done all after hours, but here it was a job that needed to be done, so it was with no worry about the time, tourists or packing items strewn about and across pedestrian areas.
Once inside the Commodities Market we were greeted with 4 floors of chaos. The stalls were tightly packed together. Here the workers hardly took notice or called out to entice us inside. They went about napping, eating, chatting to each other or just watched us all pass by. If you took interest in their shop they would quickly come to help, but not always unless you asked questions. The less stressful approach to buying was much more welcoming than the constant “lady, lady Whatch you want?” or “Looky Looky”. However the sensory overload of colours and items crammed into every available space soon gave us the overwhelming feeling of where to begin. In some places it looked like a Dollar Store threw up! Imagine 4 floors of Dollar Store goods! After bargaining, walking away and getting called back I made my first purchase. After a few more trinkets purchased I went back to the streets in search of the ‘real’ shops looking for something with more appeal and substance for gifts.
At the entrancee to this small compound of tiny living quarters I came across these ladies with a baby and small child. They called to the passing tourists to ask about watches and bags, as they unfolded a small laminated card to show you all the big name brands they had available. The baby sat quietly as it was bounced around when the lady would quickly pass her off to other arms to grab the next person within ear shot. The baby wasn’t wearing diapers, but split pants (slit from front to back) and no diaper. When the crowd thinned they held the baby over the sidewalk to take a pee. I wish I got a shot of that! NOT! As I said in my previous post, who am I to judge their customs and traditions? They feel it is healthier for a baby not to be covered – no diaper rash!
Before delving deeper and deeper and getting lost I found purchases for everyone I needed to buy for and decided to head back to the metro. My bags were getting heavy and the heat was sapping all my energy so it was a good time to head back.
YuYuan Garden certainly has it charm. Wandering the little streets, market stalls and shops is a fun way to spend the day. If you are not as interested in shopping it is a great place to people watch. Tourists from around the world gather here as well as locals running with bags of wares as they deliver to the many places. Rest assured you will see something interesting that you would never imagine or have the opportunity to see at home. Take Metro Line 10 to YuYuan Garden and take exit #1. From the exit follow the crowds right or left and you will enter the many little streets to let you explore.
If you want to be a Tourist in Your Own Town then:
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