Today I ventured to the plant and flower market. They were busy for Chinese New Year but it was manageable. By Thursday the place will be a zoo. We were able to park as close as one can to the entrance. I do not know how Ben does it but George Costanza would idolize him. If you never watched Seinfeld you have no idea what I’m talking about 😉
It is common to decorate one’s home with chrysanthemums and what appear to be orange trees. They look more like bushes but they’re pretty. Like a lot of fruit trees that are decorative the fruit is inedible. They are for sale everywhere, not just the market I went to. They also have kumquat trees. I hadn’t eaten one until today. Ben pilfered one off a tree for me to try. I asked him if I was supposed to peel it, it’s tiny and would have been difficult but I’ve never seen one of these things. Sometimes I don’t know how he doesn’t laugh at me. We all know how gross orange rind is and I didn’t want that! He told me to eat the whole thing, rind and all. I did it, he’s never steered me wrong. The initial bite was sour but then once I got the whole thing chewed it was delicious. My first kumquat was certainly less daunting than my first pig’s blood.
We started walking around and this place was bustling. I did not take any photos because it was crazy and I was afraid I’d get hit by a motor-scooter or truck. The market is just a bunch of covered open areas, stalls, and alley ways. People were everywhere and trucks were snaking their way around vendors and pedestrians. Throw in a lot of people on scooters that beeped at the drop of a hat and you have Chinese chaos and may I say I love it. There were hundreds and hundreds of people there and I was … you guessed it… the only Westerner. There was so much to look at that I couldn’t take it all in. There were so many tropical plants that I’ve never been able to grow because I’ve never really live anywhere warm enough in winter to allow me to do that.
After looking at a couple of places that were selling orchids we stopped one place and Ben motioned me in. We were looking at green plants, no flowers. Plants are all the same in a way, you look for ones without bugs, nice and green in color, and with new growth. I picked one out because Ben really wanted me to. It came in a terracotta pot and he was trying to get me to buy one in a plastic pot that I could transplant in one of the many ceramic ones available (we didn’t even venture into those stalls). When I told him I liked the old, crusty pot it was in he chuckled but he appreciated that I appreciated the character of it. It took him about 10 minutes of talking/negotiating with the saleswoman who was so sweet, I paid, and off we went. I have no idea what they could have been talking about for so long, I guess he was trying to get me the best price.
We walked around and went to the area where the cut flowers are. It was amazing. This is nothing fancy like the flower markets in Europe or NYC but it was pretty in its own way. The smell was amazing and I ended up buying 10 huge stems of Stargazer lilies for $15. As we stopped at another place and Ben was looking at plants to buy there were 4 boys, all brothers I’m sure. They were from about 6-12 years of age and they were ADORABLE. They were staring, giggling, whispering in each other’s ears, doing everything but pointing (it’s rude to point in China) and trying to figure out what I was doing there. When I smiled at them and said ni hao they practically fell off their stools. It was one of those moments that will stay with me for a long time.
After about 1 1/2 hours of roaming around we left. On the way home, with the help of Google Translate, I know that I am now the proud owner of an orchid. I am to water it about every 10 days, preferably with rainwater. I need to give it “medicine water” but I don’t know how often and if I do it too often it will die, keep it out of direct sunlight or it will die, and bring it in when it gets too cold and too hot or it will die. I’ll be lucky if this thing lives because I’ve never had an orchid. The plant has 4 flower stems, we’ll see what happens. I need to make Ben proud.