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China Trip – Beijing Night Markets

Unexpected delights around every corner

St. Joseph’s Church

The evening after our Summer Palace/Tea Tasting experiences, we had free time, so several of us went for a walk in the area near our hotel. After passing a large Catholic church, St. Joseph’s, we came to a huge pedestrian shopping street with high-end stores on both sides.

Van Cleef & Arpels next to a KFC!

Ever vigilant, I noticed the entrance to what appeared to be a very narrow street market wedged between two stores. I encouraged my fellow travelers to join me for a stroll through the market.

Narrow entrance to the street market

First, we encountered stall after stall of junky, kitschy souvenirs. Next, there were obvious knock-offs of name brand merchandise. Then, we hit my Mecca! We entered the local street food market about which I have read and seen so much! If it could be steamed, boiled or fried and was even remotely edible, it was there – scorpions, seahorses, starfish, octopus balls (not what you think), lizards, snakes, grasshoppers, cow stomach, pigeons, bamboo-wrapped rice, jackfruit, and the list goes on! We had been warned not to eat anything in the street food market because the oil is used over and over without being changed. Still, I was able to get a lot of pictures.

Beginning of the food market

Scorpions and seahorses on a stick – ready to be deep-fried


Octopus balls – octopus and a flour-based batter cooked in a special pan

What to choose, what to choose!


Pigeons, a.k.a. squab

Rice steamed inside bamboo


Upon leaving that market area, we happened upon another street food market on a more open street with slightly cleaner-looking stalls and more Western tourists. This market had the same fare as the previous market, and we also saw silkworm chrysalises, tarantulas, centipedes, sea urchins, bull testicles, and more! There were also many varieties of steamed dumplings, and I really wanted to try Beijing street food, so I bought crab and chicken dumplings at one stall. I also bought vegetable and chicken dumplings in translucent wrappers (rice wrappers?) at another stall. Hey, they were steamed and not deep-fried in decades-old oil, so I decided to take my chances. They were delicious, and I did not get sick.

More open, touristy food market

Mmmm . . .

Yep, bull testicles on the right

Sea urchins, among other things

My first night food market purchase – steamed chicken and crab dumplings

My second night food market purchase – steamed chicken and vegetable dumplings

On our way back to the hotel, we came upon three separate groups of locals engaged in what could only be described as Chinese Zumba. At the plaza in front of St. Joseph’s, there was an enormous crowd, comprised of people of all ages!

Chinese Zumba?

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