Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pics: Turtles and tires!

I was at the end of a 100-kilometer ride this morning when I passed this guy selling turtles on the side of the road.

Last summer, I frequently saw migrant workers on the roadside near my apartment complex selling soft-shell water turtles. They did it just like this guy: punch a hole through the tailend of the shell, thread a piece of twine through it and either hold the turtles up to passing traffic or dangle them from a stick. I've never seen anyone buy them.

It's really hard to get a picture of these turtle dealers. They're not supposed to be hawking reptiles on the side of the road, so they'll usually turn their back to you as you try to snap a photo. This is the first time one of them let me shoot him. I played the be-nice-to-a-foreign-friend card and he went for it. First he wanted me to pay him, which I wouldn't do because I don't want to encourage people who mistreat animals.

The turtles were looking like they were having a VERY BAD DAY. It was really cold and they were barely moving.

Like all the other turtle peddlers, this guy wouldn't tell me where he got the creatures. The turtlemen usually wear hard hats and dress in work clothes. I assume they're construction workers who stumble upon a nest of turtles and try to make a little extra money.

The Cantonese are famous for being adventurous eaters - dogs, cats, snakes, frogs, civit cats - and they're maniacs when it comes to freshness. They usually like to buy their critters live and supervise the slaughter or do it themselves.

When I first came to China in 1990 as a language student, I went to Guangzhou's Qing Ping Market, well known for its head-spinning variety of creatures in cages. It was there where I saw the cruelest thing I've ever seen. There was a small wild deer-like animal stuffed into a cage. Because the cage was so small, they had to chop off all of the deer's legs at the knee to fit it into the container. It just peered out at me looking terrified, with its bloody stumps sticking out of the cage.

Today, I was able to photograph another character who has eluded me many times. Some migrant workers pedal around the city collecting old tires. I guess they sell it for scrap. I'm fascinated by the way they hang the tires on their bikes. This guy has a car tire and motorcycle tires as well as a bizillion bike tires.

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