October 5, 2009

The Traditional Fruit and Vegetable Market

Fresh vegetables, fruit and fish are everywhere here in Beilun.  I go to the traditional market at least twice a week.  The people working at the market are very patient and kind with my questions about food.  I enjoy their obvious pride in the food they sell.  People have also been very honest about money.  I don't always understand the currency words, and will give the vendor a 20 yuan bill when they have asked me for 2 yuan.  The will patiently give it back, or show me the kind of bill they should get.  Other customers have also been helpful.  The fruit vendors 'suggest fruit that is in season and cheaper.  When I pointed at a certain plum, one vendor pointed to a different (smaller) version at a much better price.  Turns out she helped me to avoid the expensive imported variety!   Here are some pictures. 

I am hesitant to take pictures of people I don't know.  I waited until I had been to the market a few times before bringing my camera.  I asked (well with gestures) permission, and then showed the person the picture using the LCD on the camera.  I only took pictures AFTER I bought something.  This seemed ok.

When I found out that Photo paper is very inexpensive here, I had a different idea.  I bought some 4 X 6 glossy paper, and returned to the market the next time with a copy of my picture for each person I photographed.  This was a big hit!  I felt good to give something to the people who have been so nice to me.  I was especially touched by the pleasure of the man who sold me broccoli and eggplant - He really liked the picture I took of the eggplant! 

These little experiences of having some communication are wonderful -- they spur me to study and practice Chinese with the hope of better conversations!

Lauren Austin
"The purpose of art is to lay bare the questions which have been hidden by answers." -- James Baldwin



  1. The market is an everyday thing? I remember reading about a time when everyone ate food that fresh! No wonder you look so great, and you must feel as good as you look! Getting rid of the chemicals and processing is a great idea!

  2. Hen3 hao3. Wo3 hen3 e4. Hao3chi1 ma? :D