Monday, June 9, 2014

Xian night market - China

It's 9pm on a Tuesday... The streets are filled with thousands of locals, seemingly not worried about getting up for work in the morning. We make our way through the crowd towards the famous drum tower, which is also where the night market is located. It is a long street lined with small shops and food carts, and full of life. There is music playing on the street, which sounds like a chinese version of techno.

xian china night market
The chaotic night market in action 

We walk slowly down the street, the smell of fried street food filling our nostrils, and try to figure out the different things on the menu, which is not translated into English. One of the first things we notice is squid on a stick. This is not the calamari that we know and love, but the entire squid, uncooked, baking in the heat, sure to destroy our stomachs if we dared to order. A local purchases one, and we watch it being cooked for a minute before moving onto the next stand, which has even more interesting treats.

xian night market menu
These menus didn't help us figure out what the food was..
xian night market food
Shrimp, one of the only recognizable food items besides the squid

Xian night market food
Unidentified meats on a stick

xian night market food
Close out of the night market fried goodness

xian night market squid on a stick
Squid on a stick cooking

“What animal is this?” We asked each other as we had never seen anything other than chicken and turkey legs for sale back home. Maybe its dog or lamb, or maybe something even bigger? The head, probably from the same animal, is also for sale, and the teeth are even still attached. We don't stare too long as we really don't want to know the answer to our question.

xian night market food
Large unidentified animal.. Lamb? Dog? Pig?

xian night market food
As seen on our know before you go post, animal head, teeth included

 Next we pass what I am assuming are Chinese desserts, and they almost look like dumplings with Chinese writing on them. We are tempted to try them, but our tour guide warning us not to eat anything from the market has scared us into just taking pictures.

xian night market food
These look tasty! 

 We also pass 2 men using what appears to be a long mallet, banging out some sort of bread. As we go over to take a closer look, a motorbike speeds past, weaving in between the vendors and the pedestrians on the street. There seems to be no rules for motorbikes, as they are even able to ride on the sidewalks if that's what it takes to get to their desired destination.

xian night market
The men hard at work in the market

After a while it becomes clear that the vendors all sell the same type of foods, so we start taking a look at the shops for some souvenirs. Most of it is the usual stuff - magnets, postcards, imitation terracotta warriors, keychains, etc. We walk inside a few stores and see some toys and other cheap things, but nothing really catches our eye. In the back of one store we even find weapons - brass knuckles, nun-chucks, even knives, which we find interesting since our guide told us the Chinese never carry weapons on them and they are not even sold in most of the country.

xian night market
Stores in the market

Xian night market
Cheesy Souvenirs 
 Once we have seen it all, we start to head back to the hotel, but not before we are stopped by a women standing in front of an entrance to what looks like an alley leading to a basement shop. "We have a children's art exhibition in here, sponsored by the University, come have a look" she says. Sureeee.... Obviously there would be such an exhibition down a dark alley at 10pm on a school night in the middle of a market... This is our first time actually being propositioned for one of these scams, and as we decline and walk away, we can't help but laugh at the absurdity of it all.

We walk back to the hotel, happily satisfied that we finally got to experience China away from the tourist crowd. What was the strangest thing you have ever seen at a night market?

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