Kapoors Year 2: China/India/Japan travel blog

David And Jeong Ae Lalonde At The Entrance To Panjieyuan Sunday Market

Some Of The Permanent Stalls At The Market

Government Issued Plaques Denoting An Honest Trader

Vicki And Anil Just Starting Out At The Market - Getting The...

Fly Whisks At The "Dirt" Market

Calligraphy Pens

Beautiful Handles On The Calligraphy Pens

Very Old Glass Beads

Tiny Embroidered Boots

Displaying A Large Scroll - The Other End Has A Large Roll

Small Glass Bottles

Porcelain Vases

Colourful Lampshades

Stone Stamps Also Known As "Chops"

Delicate Carved Ivory - The Small Cages Are For Pet Crickets

More Incredible Ivory - This Is Atop An Ivory Table

Eye Catching Displays Of Antiques

Hand-Painted Wooden Scrolls

Antique Armour

Paper Lanterns

Antique Locks

Models With Energy Meridians Marked Out

More Calligraphy Pens

Small Metal Pots In A Traditional Style

Metal Coins

Coral Beads

Striking Tibetan Jewellery

Dzi Beads

Stone Beads

A Tibetan Man In A Traditional Hat

A Riot of Colour On These Ceramics

Whose Knows What These Are For? But They Are Beautiful

Shockingly Bright Beads

A Carved Chess Set

Lacquer Ware - The Round Boxes Are For Necklaces

This Sign Brought Back Memories For This Child of the 50s

These Metal Toys Brought Back Even More Memories

Anyone Recognize These Old Model Cars?

Chairman Mao Alarm Clocks

More Beautiful Porcelain

It's Kite Flying Season In Beijing

Communist-Era Rucksacks

Simple Watercolour Paintings

More Elaborate Paintings

Terra-Cotta Warriors

Stunning Silver

Antique Eyeglasses

Colourful Jade Beads

Carved Jade Pieces

More Jade, But These Are Beads for Stringing

Just Loved This Sign - What It Means Is "Pay For Ten...

I Have Always Loved Stone Grapes Like These

Beautifully Embroidered Fabrics

Wooden Boxes With A Lovely Blue Pot For Contrast

Antique Luggage

Painted Wooden Furniture

Embroidered Silks

The Fabric Section Drove Me Crazy!

I Would Have Bought This Tibetan Jacket If It Fit Me -...

Amazing Details

Boxes of All Types, Shapes And Sizes

There Are Gift Boxes For All Shapes and Sizes of Porcelain

Jade Comes In So Many Colours

Metalware - Love The Pale Green Horse!

Dramatic Masks

These Metal Pieces Have Been Dipped In Acid To Make Them Look...

A Warrior's Suit Of Armour

The Hill Tribe Ladies Admiring Jeong Ae's Ethnic Clothing


Bright Woolen Carpets

Antique Saddles

A Red and Gold Bride's Dress

More Wooden Containers

Lanterns In A Different Shape and Colour

Swords, Some With Satin Lined Boxes

Carved Wooden Inserts For Doors and Screens

Buddha Figurines

A Buddha With A Silver Ingot (This Was The Shape Used For...

This Figurine Has The Most-Gentle Smile I've Ever Seen

Old Coins

Figures Of Chairman Mao

Blue And White Porcelain

These Look Almost Russian To Me...

Framed Watercolours

Stirrups For Horses Or Yaks?

A Tibetan Headdress

More Leather Items For Use With The Saddles

A Row Of Shops At The End Of The Covered Portion Of...

Large Ceramic Figures

Large Striking Bells For Yaks, Camels Or Horses?

Old Coins And Shell Buttons

More Carved Stone Pieces

Outside The Covered Market The Items Get Smaller And More Scattered

Vendors Set Up Shop Along The Market Walls

The Modern City Looms Over The Old-Fashioned Market Stalls

It's A Long Boring Day When There Are More Gawkers Than Buyers

I Loved The Blue Bottles In The Middle Of This Artful Display

An Old Book Alone, Away From The Book Section of the Market

Some Things Are Tied To A Tree In Order To Display Them...

Bicycle Carts Waiting For The Market To Close

I'll Finish With Calligraphy Pens Because They Were My Favorite Discovery -...



I have been to many markets in my travels, but I was totally unprepared for the wonder of the Panjiayuan Market in Beijing. Tamara told us about it when we met for lunch before leaving Edmonton and it stuck in my mind because she referred to it as the Dirt Market. Apparently, it is situated on what was once a mound of dirt at the end of the city. Shortly after the end of the Cultural Revolution, people began to dig up treasures that they had hidden from the Red Guards and offered them for sale from blankets placed on the ground on the pile of dirt. For short, it became known as the weekend dirt market.

Today, the city extends far south of the market and it has a formal name based on the name of the road at the front gate - Panjiayuan Lu. It is still primarily a Sunday market but some stalls are open during the week and there is a lot of action on Saturdays as well. There are beautiful permanent buildings, a large roof over another section and then on Sunday, every available corner of the market is packed with sellers who only arrive for the Sunday shoppers.

What is truly amazing is the sheer volume and variety of things for sale. Whole stalls are often dedicated to only one type of antique or handicraft. It is a veritable feast for the eyes. After spending all Saturday afternoon there, I had to return again on Sunday morning to get another "fix". David and Jeong Ae were as keen as me, but Anil begged off.

Anil's Note: At home, when I hear the word "markets", I think of the Dow Jones, Nasdaq, and the TSX, and you can get your "fix" on the internet. So, the idea of getting up at the crack of dawn to go to the "dirt market" made me seek alternatives.

Instead, he went to the Tuan Jie Hu Park near our hotel for a morning with the other over-sixty retirees. When we returned at noon, he was as excited about his morning at the park as we were about the treasures we had photographed at the market. His eyes twinkled as he told us about an old man, who appeared to be a master of calligraphy, demonstrating his skills to others in the park. He had a huge calligraphy brush that he dipped in water and then wrote the most amazing script on grey, stone pavement. It appeared as though he was creating a huge poster but within minutes, the water dried and the image disappeared. Then it was time for his students to give it a try.

There were old men with their bird cages, one old guy playing a two-stringed instrument while an older lady sang and one danced, people doing Tai Chi and all forms of exercises, and a large group of people in a sing-along. There was even a group of six playing "hackey-sack" and all were Chinese women over fifty! Anil sat down on a park bench reading the China Daily in English while the guy next to him read the Chinese version. He thought about renting a paddleboat but the sign read "Anyone under 12 or over 60 could not go alone but must be guided by a guidance person".

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. If that is so, then what are 101 pictures worth? I know it might seem excessive but I couldn't resist sharing most my photos of the market with you. Perhaps these alone will entice you to make a trip to China yourself.

We are thrilled with everything we have seen and done and the people are some of the nicest we have met anywhere. It is often said that people in cities are less friendly and helpful that those in the countryside. If that is the case in China, then we are in for a wonderful three months because our first three weeks couldn't have been more enjoyable.


Share |