My 5: Xunpu Oyster Village – Quanzhou, China.

Plant market Xunpu Oyster Village Quanzhou

1. Xunpu Oyster Village, February 2018. I find it reassuring that even after all these years Lonely Planet still comes up with some great recommendations. Their most recent one was to check out this tiny fishing village ten kilometers southeast of Quanzhou city centre. Having been dropped off in one of the most innocuous Chinese streets I’ve ever seen, Wonderboy and I initially doubted we were even in the right place. But then a helpful local stepped in and through the genius of Baidu Translate expertly guided us to where we needed to be. “Follow the road straight!” she said, “until you get to the rock at the entrance of the vegetable market”.

2. Xunpu Oyster Village, February 2018. Observing the traditional ways of its maritime Silk Road heritage, the women of Xunpu still dress in red costumes, with either a red bandana or elaborate flowery head garments like this one.

3. Xunpu Oyster Village, February 2018. Typically the older generation spends their day shelling oysters. Every day. You can see this taking place throughout the village main street and down the little side alleys. Nobody blinked at the presence of two foreigners wandering through. Nor did they seem to care as I went about the business of taking photographs. In fact, in most cases they didn’t even notice.

4. Xunpu Oyster Village, February 2018. Despite increasing urbanization, the village still features a number of traditional homes, parts of which were constructed using local seashells! The family who lived in this courtyard gave us welcoming smiles and watched in amusement as we stood admiring their abodes.

5. Xunpu Oyster Village, February 2018. There’s a sort of shelling HQ at the end of the street, where a large gathering of ladies shell away with real focus, heads down, eyes often closed. It’s demanding, relentless work and clearly no matter how fast they shell there’s always, always, always going to be another basket. Sometimes you just have to take a moment and be thankful that you won the genetic lottery.

For more on this under-the-radar city, check out my other 5s from around Quanzhou.

Or maybe search further afield with my zillion articles from across China.

I’ve also written a short story series called Challenged in China.

Leighton Literature travel reports short stories travel blogger

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Freelance travel writer, voice over and English teacher from London. Former music and film journalist, interviewer of the stars. Passionate about travel, film, music, football, Indian food.

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