So, we got lost this past weekend. We were attempting to find a place called Flower Town – a flower growing village that is intended to bring the rural and urban parts of the city together while helping support the local farmers. Sounds great, right? Yeah, we thought so too, but we never made it there. Instead, we made the eight mile hike into another kind of town.
While heading out of the hotel for the day, we googled the location for Flower Town and it returned one result on the map. It looked to be in the right area, so we hopped on the subway and made our way to the edge of the city. Once we made it to our stop, there were a line of tuk-tuks waiting for subway passengers, in hopes to take us to our final location. We decided we would give one of these three wheeled golf cart lookalikes a try and handed over our destination to the driver. He read the address, which came from a handy Chinese taxi booking app, and started yelling to the other drivers about where we were asked him to take us. All of them rushed towards us and read the Chinese characters over his shoulder. As they discussed the address we had given them, the conversation seemed to be intensifying as if we had just handed over the address for Mars.
Side note: Taxi and tuk-tuk drivers don’t like to read maps here. If you show them the address of where you would like to go, they know exactly how to get you there.If you show them your destination on a map, they’ll just look at it like a deer in headlights… and then ask for the address.
With their distaste for maps in mind, we hesitantly pulled the location up and showed it to the group of drivers. It takes them all a few minutes with one younger man, who is just passing by, to figure out where we’re trying to go. They finally hand us back our phone and tell us it will be ¥8 ($1.33) for the ride. We accept the price and nervously settle into the back of the tuk-tuk – we hope they figured out how to get there, no one ever gave us a reassuring nod that they had it under control. We make it about half way to the pin on our map and our driver pulls over and says something in Mandarin that translates to something like “we’re here!” or “ok, I’m bored now – get out”. Either way, we cut our $1.33 loss and decide to walk to the rest of the way. Once we hopped out of the tuk-tuk, we double checked the address we provided through our app and this is what we handed the driver -
“About 15km southwest of town”?! No wonder they were yelling in confusion! Lesson learned.
We finally made it to what we thought was the entrance to Flower Town and began to prepare ourselves for the floral awesomeness that awaited us up ahead. To our surprise, we were welcomed with packed family owned restaurants and local specialty shops. This area was booming with locals; we had to be getting close! We passed a few street vendors selling fresh cut fruit and renting out tandem bikes, but we never came upon the market we had seen in photos. We stayed optimistic and kept moving forward but, after a few miles we showed to be right on the pin with only a single stucco building near by. We tap the pin on our map to make sure we’re in the right spot and it shows we’ve made it to Fortune Town – a local restaurant.
We decided the Flower Town adventure was for another day, but enjoyed being able to photograph the area we did have the opportunity to explore. Next time we’ll pay closer attention to the names on the map before making a full day’s commitment to an unknown destination. After our hike, we treated ourselves to another two-hour massage.
*The following images and/or content may be disturbing to some. Viewer discretion is strongly advised.
Our adventure to the local meat market on Sunday was quiet different from the one to Flower Fortune Town. First of all, I should have known not to wear Birkenstocks to a MEAT MARKET, but I guess I didn’t realize what I was walking into. This place is nothing like the butcher and seafood section in an American grocery store – where your seafood is chilled on ice and your beef is in a glass case and already processed to your liking. It was like a dark three story back alley with live fish in buckets, no part of an animal gone to waste and the smell was on another level. At first there was this eery feeling to the whole experience, but after a while, you realize these are local farmers making a living. Once our noses became blind and we relaxed into the experience, it was an interesting place. I am sure Shawn and I will be back to try some of what they have to offer once we settle into an apartment. We have heard many of the local restaurants buy their meat from this market and others in our Expat group really enjoyed the seafood they purchased during our visit. Do you think you would try it?