Another small town, another market.
The Zoucheng market is smaller than the Xizhou one and, from the very first impression I had, it seemed also to be less*vegeterian*. At least this is what I thought when as soon as we entered the square where the market took place, we saw some desk full of pork meat.
It seemed to me tha the main activity of this area is the agricolture.
This is not definitly a town for people who have the hay fever, infact in any house, courtyard, and even in the samllest street you will find some hay.
After seing a lot of hay in the street I asked why people left them there and my driver told me they stayed there to get dry before being taken to the house.
In Xichou, though the market offers the opportunity to take a lot of pics, do not stop just there, go outside the main streets and wander around the town, you will have the chance to see some local houses, architecture and above all other daily activities different from selling handicrafts and vegetables.
I was there with a private driver and I simply asked him to bring me where people lived and work, not just where they were waiting for tourists, he was more than happy to do so.
My guide got hungry, so though I did not want to stop for lunch, he took me to the house of one of his friend.
As soon as we entered, the woman showed us the table with the food we were expected to eat, so i wondered if she knew we were arriving or if she just cook everyday for eventual guests.
Favorite Dish: As I could not avoid spicy food in the restaurants, I was really afraid to try those dishes, I could not ask for something not spicy as I still did not understand if our presence was planned or if we the poor lady was giving us the food she cooked for the husband or the kids.
I soon realised that all the eyes were at me and that I could have not refused a single dish, fortunatly nothing was spicy and everything was pretty good, it was really a nice experience.
I asked Jim(the owner of the hotel where I stayed in Dali) if he could find a private driver for me to go visit some towns nearby and also asked him to reccommend towns worth to visit.
I got the driver the morning after and he took me around Xichou and Zhoucheng for about 6 hours and the cost was 15 euro, plus the probable commissions he got from the only souvenir shop that we visited.
We visited a small textiles factory in Zhoucheng, when I say small I mean it was just a house where everyone was working at washing, colouring, sewing, drying clothes and textiles in general.
What to buy: I took some hanging pockets and some scarves that I will probably never use but all those colours were too attractive to go out without taking anything.The only problem is that I really did not see anything I could use anyhow but, this will not be the first nor the last time I get attracted by useless stuffs.
What to pay: I paid 12 euro for 3 scarves and 2 sort of wall hanging pokets, like the ones you can use in the bathroom for toothbrush, paste and so on.
If you have the chance, try to visit some local houses both in Xichou or in Zhoucheng.
Most of them have a courtyard where people take the tools for work, the wood, where they hang clothes and mais.
Yes, mais, most of houses I visited have hanging mais in their courtyard, I tried to ask to the driver about that habit but he could not understand, may be it's just there waiting to get dry like the hay in the streets.
My driver took me to many houses of people he knew, first I thought they could try to sell me something or ask for tip, nothing, even when we ate at his friend's place and I tried to leave some money they kindly refused.