Laomeng 老猛 holds the most flamboyant market every Sunday. One can see people from six different ethnic minorities, with women and children dressing up in colourful dresses, different in their own traditional style.
It is about 2 hours from Yuanyang Xinjiezhen, and costs 20 RMB to catch a transport to get there. The minorities who come to this Market include Hani, Yi, Zhuang, Miao, Dai and Yao. The market is fairly large, spilling over a coupe streets with a special area for fresh produce.
Amazingly one can discover one or two minority markets taking place in different villages every day around Yuanyang, such as in Xinjiezhen, Niujiaozhai, Shengcun.
Another interesting big market is at Ganiang (嘎娘) which is about an hour by transport from Duoyishu; Transport costs 10 RMB from Duoyishu. The number of tribes coming to this market is not as various as Laomeng- there are Hani’s, Yi’s and Miao’s. However this market is really fun and packed. Throughout the day, people just continue to stream into the market and it just gets busier and busier. There is no tourist.
Going to the market is one of the few recreations that people in the remote countryside. All over China in the rural areas where there are significant numbers of minorities, Market Days (赶集) are important days indeed. Minorities from all around the villages where the Market Day is held will flood into the village, both to buy as well as to sell all sorts of things.
Market Days are normally held on a regular basis in most places. This can be once a week, every 5 days and so on. These markets are quite similar in most places- every day items such as clothing, household items are available on top of fresh produce and poultry. In most of these markets, farm implements and livestock such as pigs, horses, donkeys and so on are also being transacted. There are also products and services which are specifically tailored to particular communities; in a market at Duoyihe, we saw a dyeing service for cloth. On top of all this, there are also plenty of local foods to savour.
Market Days are significant events in the weekly calendar of most minorities. It is an occasion for some to earn something extra by selling excesses from their farms; for others it is their weekly shopping experience. However more significantly, it is a major social event in their calendar. Most minorities, especially the ladies will dress up in their best and most colourful traditional dresses to go to the market. It is an opportunity for them to meet and to exchange news and gossip with others.
Market Days normally last a whole day. People, especially traders will start arriving at the market from 8am. Throughout the day, there will be people streaming in from all the surrounding villages. Most of these markets do not finish until around 4pm. The peak of such markets is normally around noon. Some of the markets are so crowded, lively and rowdy that one just get push along by the crowds.
Market Days are great opportunities to see the various minorities in their traditional dresses. Normally there are more than one minority at these markets. The various minorities will mingle around rather than sticking to their own group. Most of them are very friendly and warm and do not mind to be photographed if one ask politely (for photographers, zoom lenses are more appropriate and less intrusive). Some of the minorities at these markets stay in more remote villages and are not large in numbers. It will not be easy to visit and see them in their villages; yet they come out in numbers at these markets.
More on CBP: Yuanyang Travel Guide
Written by CBP in April 2007
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