Hidden Treasures at the Local Market in Sanjiang City, Guangxi Province, China

By Mark Wiens 32 Comments
Sanjiang Market
Sanjiang Market

The developing city of Sanjiang in the northern part of Guangxi Province, China, is most likely not what one would call a tourist hotspot.

It’s a rather drab city, a scatter of unkempt businesses, dusty debris filled streets and caravans of overloaded obnoxious construction trucks.

However, as I’ve mentioned before, traveling to me is not so much about the famous attractions, but about checking out local life and cultural practices.

Sanjiang, Guangxi Province, China
Sanjiang, Guangxi Province, China

From the chaotic Long Bien market in Hanoi to the distribution Thiri Mingalar market in Yangon, one thing that I can’t miss in any city is the chance to walk around a local fresh market!

Sanjiang had a great little fresh market exhibiting some fascinating sights and a wide range of smells.

Chicken and Duck Vendors
Chicken and Duck Vendors

The entrance to Sanjiang’s central market was lined with baskets of live chickens and ducks.

Selling Ducks in China
Selling a Duck in Sanjiang, China

In China, chickens and ducks should be purchased alive and self butchered so that they are extremely fresh before being cooked.

Pictured above is a man tying the feet of a duck and getting ready to weigh it before taking it home. The duck was squirming and flapping its wings as it attempted to escape its inevitable fate.

Market in Sanjiang, China
Fresh Vegetables in China

Piles of fresh colorful vegetables are so beautiful to look at (I think so!). The colorful arrangement just makes me want to buy them all and bring them to a local restaurant and have a motherly lady stir fry them up with garlic and chilies!

Market Seller in Sanjiang, China
Market Seller in Sanjiang, China

The man above set up a small table in the middle of the central street of the market with some tasty take-away treats!

Chicken Surgery
Chicken Surgery

Unfortunately I got my camera out just slightly too late and could only capture the evidence of this highly interesting makeshift business.

The man sat on the small wooden stool with a selection of ancient tools and a chopping board. He performed surgery on live roosters, cutting a hole in their sides and pulling out the organ that makes a rooster “cocka-doodle-doo.”

Can you see the blood splotches on the right hand side of the chopping board? That was a pile of the organs he extracted. This was something I had never seen before and I thought it was pretty cool.

Chinese Vegetables, Sanjiang
Vegetables Baskets in Sanjiang, China

Bamboo poles carried with a basket on either side is one of the most common carrying methods in Asia.

When the vendor arrives to the market he/she just takes out the bamboo carrying stick and conveniently places the baskets on the side of the street.

Sanjiang Market, China
Basket of Produce

This technique is a great way to display produce!

Preserved River Fish in Sanjiang, China
Preserved River Fish in Sanjiang, China

Preserved river fish are a speciality in the Sanjiang area of China.

Different Kinds of Chinese Tofu
Different Kinds of Chinese Tofu

There are so many different forms of tofu in China.

This basket was filled witha few varieties, including a kind of tofu that looked like strips of noodles and a kind that resembled some kind of a wrapped up bratwurst.

Roasted Duck and Chicken
Roasted Duck and Chicken

The interior of the local market of Sanjiang was packed out with roasted ducks, chickens, innards and pork odds and ends.

The pleasing aroma and bustling atmosphere was a lovely introduction to local life of Sangjiang, China. Since it was the day before the moon festival, many people were scurrying about trying to purchase the choicest meat.

So though the town of Sanjiang is not the most interesting city, wherever you go there are always hidden treasures to discover at the local market!



32 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • Renee King

    5 years ago

    Boy, a health inspector would have a field day here! lol Well, at least no one is going hungry…food abounds…everywhere. Very cool article and I’m still trying to move past the chicken surgeon story. Yikes!!

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Thanks Renee! It’s a great thing that health inspectors are a little more relaxed in China!

  • jenjenk

    5 years ago

    love how colorful this post is!!

    i don’t think i could kill my own meat. I’m such a wuss…

  • Technosyncratic Travel

    5 years ago

    I’m really fascinated by that photo of three different types of tofu. I had no idea it was made into noodles.

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Yah, I thought at first it was noodles and sausage or something like that. I couldn’t believe it was tofu either!

  • Arti

    5 years ago

    Very colorful, just like India! I will have the fresh vegetables…
    Thanks for sharing this Mark, have a fabulous day:)

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Thanks Arti, hope you have a wonderful day too!

  • Shirlene from Idelish

    5 years ago

    Visiting the local markets is always something we love to do and you’ve nailed the reason why – there’s always hidden treasures to discover there!

  • David @ Malaysia Asia

    5 years ago

    Always had a fascination with markets around Southeast Asia. Love the pics Mark!

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Me too David – I can’t get over Asian fresh markets, always fascinating!

  • Jeremy Branham

    5 years ago

    I love chicken but I am not sure I could kill it myself. How spoiled we are here in America!

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hey Jeremy, yup – not so many people butcher their own chickens in the US anymore!

  • Emme Rogers

    5 years ago

    Your photos are amazing Mark. They really take you there.

    That is definitely a market that gives you a whole different perspective on food. I’ve dove for crab and shellfish and killed them for dinner, but I must say, I’d be tempted to buy the whole lot of ducks, drive them out to the country and let them go.

    I am a fan of the quick death for our dinner, as the interim, seems like a cruel form of torture. But I guess for the buyer, it means they are getting their dinner fresh.

    ~ Emme

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Thanks a lot Emme. China is not the nicest country to animals, but I guess they’ve been doing things the same for so long in a similar manner – but they do eat fresh meat!

  • Laurel

    5 years ago

    I’m not a vegetarian, but there’s no way I could kill my own duck or chicken (hypocritical I know). Very interesting look at a local market and the sounds like a great place for observing local culture.

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Thanks Laurel. I think it’s hard to butcher your own meat unless you grew up butchering your own meat when you were a kid. I’ve butchered a few chickens myself, when I lived in Congo, but that was a long time ago…

  • NLM

    5 years ago

    One of the things I like to do when traveling is imagine what my life would be like if I had been born there (I waste MUCH time playing these mental games with myself, lol). For instance, can you imagine being a live duck vendor??

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Thanks for the comment! I think trying to imagine what it would have been like to be born there is a great idea! You would really imagine a different perspective of situations in all kinds of different cultures – and hopefully understand them a little more. I love the idea, I’m going to start doing that more too!

  • inka

    5 years ago

    Being a vegetarian, I certainly appreciate the greens and vegetables, but I simply can’t eat a duck I need to kill myself first or a fish which is staring at me with dead eyes. Having said that, different cultures have different ways of eating, drinking and living and the joy of travel is to watch and find out. Nobody forces you to eat soemthing that won’t go down well, but what’s wrong with looking???( and recording)

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Thanks Inka! I agree, seeing different ways for food preparation and how markets are handled around the world is great to observe when traveling. Though I’ll eat almost everything, walking around markets in China, I really noticed the amazing assortment of fresh vegetables – so colorful and beautiful!

  • Todd @ Todd’s Wanderings

    5 years ago

    Awesome, I love a good chaotic market!

  • Maria

    5 years ago

    Diggin’ the energy in these photos. I can hear it, I can smell it and the colors are knocking me out! Thnx.

  • Caanan @ No Vacation Required

    5 years ago

    I gotta be honest, I think the rooster “surgery” thing is disgusting. I try to honor other cultures, but as someone who tries to be extremely mindful about what I eat (that means being largely vegetarian), the meat / poultry / fish aspects of these markets kind grosses me out.

    All of that aside, your posts are always informative and engaging – even when they make me a little queasy. 🙂

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Thanks Caanan, I definitely understand about the queasiness, and China doesn’t always treat their animals with much respect. That being said, I think southern China is a great country to eat vegetarian, or semi-vegetarian. Meat is often just eaten for flavoring, and veggies are all over the place – and fresh and delicious!

  • Steve

    5 years ago

    One of the best things about living in China is the food, and to find the most enjoyable we always head to the markets, but that’s the first we’d heard of the chicken surgery – I’ll look out for it from now on. We often use a home-stay in Heibei province and curse the roosters that wake us at dawn, when we’re just wanting a lie-in.

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Thanks Steve. I thought the rooster thing was so interesting as well because I have never seen anything like it anywhere else. I fully agree with you though, browsing local markets is one of my favorite things to do in any country I visit.