You know, “TWO”

Kaifeng 1.JPGKaifeng may not have been quite as rustic as I had hoped, but the markets were an unexpected spectacle of delights. The people were also very nice. In Shanghai people were pushy and always trying to sell us things. In Kaifeng people were friendly, extremely patient and knew a fair bit of English. After some confusion about price, one woman in her late fifties, who didn’t speak a word of  English to us, wrote “TWO” on a piece of paper.

On the first afternoon we passed through an empty square to access an alley filled with food vendors, produce stands and live poultry—such a contrast to metropolitan Shanghai. Another market consisted of  a few alleys filled entirely with consumer goods, like a Walmart broken into dozens of shops.

Kaifeng 2.JPGIn two hours the empty-ish intersection of streets near our hotel coverts into dozens of outdoor restaurants with kitchen carts, tables and chairs. Vendors loudly announce their products and proprietors try to usher passers-by to tables.  Nibbling and drinking beer in the square made an effective substitution for a patio bar.

Although there are many vendors to choose from, there are only a few main types. The kebab vendors have charcoal grills and a wide selection of skewered foods, including chicken, octopus and unidentified brown insects. Dumpling stands may also have steamed buns and wonton soup. Other vendors sell thick pita-like bread stuffed with your choice of filling. It seems that a few stands will share a seating area and cooperate to offer a wider selection of food.

kaifeng 3.JPGOur first choice was a kebab stand. The kebabs were fine, but we became concerned over the cleanliness of the beer glasses. Another man approached us with a menu which we were completely unable to read. He kept pointing at the 3 beside the first item which designated the price, as if that would make us buy some. We saw other people with soup and managed to order some from the man. The soup was warm, sweetened green tea with pears. It was almost like dessert. The next stand we tried had steamed dumplings and the beer was bottled and cold. It was noisy, crowded, hot, busy, dangerous (with fire flaring occasionally from underneath woks and inside kebab-BBQs), friendly and perfect.

One Response to “You know, “TWO””

  1. Lyndsay Says:

    Hi Jan,
    It’s been a while…I got the link for your site from Kim and thought I’d check out your blog and say hello! Sounds like you are having a wonderful trip! What a great itinerary!! How long are you going to be in China for? I am heading to China on June 22nd for 6 weeks – flying into Shanghai. Not sure if you will still be there or not, but if so, maybe we could hook up!?! My mom is living in Changchun right now, teaching for Memorial Univ. so if you are heading north (waaaay north and east of Beijing – perhaps en route to either Siberia or Korea) then give her a call….I know that she’ll remember you and would love to have some Canadians to hang out with (and if I’m there, then I can see you too!!) Her number is 431-516-8515 – she goes by Karen Freeman now (her maiden name).
    Hope to see you – if not, have a wonderful trip and hopefully we can catch up for lost years when you’re back.