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.A steamed bun morning snack, with red bean paste brushed onto the rolled dough.This 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.Bananas, blossoms, and other veggies. A loyal customer who probably drives a hard bargain.These anxious chickens await their fate.Most likely it will be a fate like this one.And 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.