Illustrated Adventures » by Alli Campbell

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SHANGHAI SHOPPING (THE NON DEPARTMENT STORE KIND)

The People’s Republic of China may be the largest Communist nation in the world, but no one understands Capitalism quite as well as the Chinese. Or meat, which makes for some particularly enlightening market trawling. We learnt that in Kunming.

In China you will never be far from a snack stand, a cart rotating hats/umbrellas/ponchos as the weather changes, and a guy hawking live crickets in toilet rolls. It is inspiring and humbling seeing everyone doing their best to make a buck – particularly when it isn’t at your expense. Sewing machine repairs on the sidewalk are one of my favourites.

We are drawn to every market, cart and street stall we see in China – unable to resist a sticky beak, competing to find the most-unlikely-to-ever-be-sold-in-Australia winner. The top ten contenders, from six weeks in this amazing and unbelievable land: live hedgehogs, baby bird kebabs, spicy duck gizzards, bamboo rat stir fry, smoked flattened pig’s face, techno dyed miniature live frogs, a toucan, live turtles by the kilo, beef tendon salad (ticketed as the vegetarian option), raw larvae.

And before anyone says century eggs, they are available throughout Melbourne. You just can’t have them with a side of bamboo rat, which is a crying shame.