Mengkuan Market – Xishuangbanna, Yunnan, China

As we’re leaving Mengkuan, I stopped to browse the wares at the local market.  The pictures below are actually a mix of the one in Mengkuan and a slightly larger one that we also visited on the trip back to Jinghong.  But they felt similar in spirit, calm despite the crowds, full of supremely fresh produce and live animals and things that were mostly interesting to the outsider passers-by like me, but extremely so.  And a few small, wonderful moments of levity.House of Haos Xishuangbanna Menghai Aini Village Market Hawker StallsHouse of Haos Xishuangbanna Menghai Aini Village MarketA steamed bun morning snack, with red bean paste brushed onto the rolled dough.House of Haos Xishuangbanna Menghai Aini Village Market Steamed Red Bean BunThis spread below is what the Dai locals usually eat with sticky rice for breakfast: mashed eggplant, mashed tomatoes, or chicken, with little baggies of fried pork skin.House of Haos Xishuangbanna Menghai Aini Village Market Sticky RiceHouse of Haos Xishuangbanna Menghai Aini Village Market 2Bananas, blossoms, and other veggies.House of Haos Xishuangbanna Menghai Aini Village Market Bananas House of Haos Xishuangbanna Menghai Aini Village Market BlossomsA loyal customer who probably drives a hard bargain.House of Haos Xishuangbanna Menghai Aini Village Market Child Buying Sticky Rice 1House of Haos Xishuangbanna Menghai Aini Village Market Child Buying Sticky Rice 2House of Haos Xishuangbanna Menghai Aini Village Market Yunnan HamHouse of Haos Xishuangbanna Menghai Aini Village Market TofuHouse of Haos Xishuangbanna Menghai Aini Village Market Tofu 2House of Haos Xishuangbanna Menghai Aini Village Market PickesHouse of Haos Xishuangbanna Menghai Aini Village Market Ham 2House of Haos Xishuangbanna Menghai Aini Village Market Ham 1House of Haos Xishuangbanna Menghai Aini Village Market Grilling FishThese anxious chickens await their fate.House of Haos Xishuangbanna Menghai Aini Village Market Chickens 3House of Haos Xishuangbanna Menghai Aini Village Market Chickens 1Most likely it will be a fate like this one.House of Haos Xishuangbanna Menghai Aini Village Market Chicken Hawkers 3House of Haos Xishuangbanna Menghai Aini Village Market Chicken Hawkers 2House of Haos Xishuangbanna Menghai Aini Village Market Chicken Hawkers 1House of Haos Xishuangbanna Menghai Aini Village Market Chickens 5House of Haos Xishuangbanna Menghai Aini Village Market Chickens 4And yet, in a very narrow sense, I felt fairly comfortable in this display, much more so than the cluck-clucking of a disenfranchised mass of factory poultry.  Look, I still love my chicken strips and McNuggets, but all that feels so far removed, so neatly and conveniently displaced, that the vitality of this scene of blood and feathers, if nothing else, awakens one to the reality of the process.  And makes you pause to find beauty in the arrangement of bodies, and dignity in the smile of fowl mongers, and compassion in the fluttering of wire cages.

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