The Medicine Market and Shamian Island

Today’s outing was so amazing that I thought it needed its own post.

Jason was under the weather and Lillian’s stomach was still hurting her, so the two of them stayed behind. But Caroline, Lizzie, Mia Grace and I went a place known as Shamian Island, a part of Guangzhou that was settled and occupied by the British, was home to many foreign embassies, and still maintains a traditional, colonial feel today. Tall banyan trees frame the sidewalks and form a canopy over bronze statues, fountains, and gardens below. Fans blow over old-fashioned porches and verandas in large colonial style houses, and if you close your eyes, you think for just a moment you might be somewhere in the South.

Except that to get to Shamian Island, you have to walk through the Medicine Market, something I am fairly certain doesn’t exist anywhere in the South.

First we walked through stalls of people selling all kinds of animals – cats, dogs, turtles, fish, you name it:

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And then we entered into this huge hall, a place I like to call “The World of Medicine.” And when I say medicine, I mean anything that used to be alive and now isn’t that can potentially be put into a pot, boiled, and then put into a cup to be drunk down as medicine.

The stalls in this hall sold everything from ginger, mushrooms, and every kind of herb under the sun…
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To small sea horses for teenagers to drink so they will grow quickly:
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To deer legs and deer antlers for men to boil and drink if they want to become stronger:
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To live scorpions to boil and drink to get rid of boils:
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Here’s a video if you want to see them for yourself:
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To snakes to boil and drink for overall health:
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To the inside lining of the stomachs of fish to boil and drink to make your stomach feel, in the words of our guide, “oh so nice.”
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Oh my word.

It took mind over matter to get my already compromised digestive system through that medicine mart without completely losing my breakfast. Lucky for you the pictures can’t convey the smell in that market.

When we emerged from the mart into the light of day onto Shamian Island and saw a restaurant up ahead called “Lucy’s” that served things like apple pie and quesadillas, I almost cried and kissed the ground. Sometimes it feels good to be an American and not have to drink things like boiled sea horses when you turn 13 so you will grow faster.

Needless to say, we enjoyed Shamian Island. We watched people play a game similar to hacky sack. I thought my nephews would be great at this and kept wishing they were there to give it a try:
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We took pictures by the famous bronze statue of the mother and children behind her. It reminded me of Robert McCloskey’s wonderful book, Make Way for Ducklings:
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We ate at Lucy’s and enjoyed Shirley Temple’s with ice, and Mia Grace had her first taste of ice cream. Needless to say, she loved it, and kept hitting the side of Caroline’s leg for more:
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All in all, it was a good day, especially with Mia Grace’s laughter topping it off in the afternoon.

We hope you enjoy your Sunday and day of worship and rest as we sleep. We love and appreciate you all so much,
The Baker 6