My dearest Bella,
Happy Birthday! I’m sorry I can’t be there for your special day.
I hope to see you next year. We moved to Hong Kong a few months ago.
Uncle Alex and I miss you so much and I hope you can visit us one day soon.
I miss your beautiful face and your loving nature. Remember when you showed me around your place when I slept over? That was the best day ever!
We had so much fun in the park - you kept spinning me around and around and around!!
My favourite part was when you sang me a lullaby when I went to bed and I slept like a baby!
You’re a special girl Bella, don’t ever forget that. Beautiful in the outside but most importantly you have a kind heart.
Hope you’re mummy & daddy treat you to a very special day today. We send all our love and all our kisses.
Ps. I will post your present tomorrow so you should receive it in 15 sleeps so keep a look out for it ok?
Please give Hady a big hug for me too!
Love & Miss you,
Aunty Pene & Uncle Alex
I make it a point to visit a market anywhere I travel and they have always left me with the fondest memories… strolling through Parisian flea markets where I found my favourite vintage fedora hat, experiencing a snow storm in Nuremberg, in one of the oldest European Christmas markets and best of all, eating my way through endless paellas and the most delicious seafood with my sister at the Boccaria on our last day in Barcelona.
My experience in China, was a little different.
As part of our cooking class during our trip to Yangshuo, we were looking forward to visiting the vegetable and meat market.
A short walk from the main road, we were excited to meet some locals, check out the produce and buy some fresh ingredients to cook.
There were people squatting at the entrance, gathered in small groups around a small open fire to keep warm. Our chef Cathy pre-warned us that it was pretty much a slaughter house and to refrain from taking any pictures as vendors have been known to chase tourists with a butcher’s knife and as we walked further in, the excitement quickly turned to anxiety.
The first thing you notice next to the cold damp air is the poor ventilation. It smelt of something smoked and heavy. Memories of it still leave a bad taste in my mouth. There were the usual suspects you would expect in a Chinese market, assorted fish swimming in the mud tile tub on the ground, filled with dirty yellow water, the odd crab limping around under the tables, clams and pipis and as you went further down the rows, the noise got louder and the stench more unbearable.
Headless chickens with their feet cut off, caged rabbits with long fluffy ears that looked like they were plucked straight out from a fairy tale book the night before. There we caged turtles, caged frogs and as I turned to the second last row, a cage full of cats. Live, conscious cats desperately stepping on each other trying to escape their fate. You can feel their fear and desperation. And just as I was about to hit my threshold, I saw the next stand, tucked conspicuously right at the back. It was dark and I had to squint my eyes to believe what it was I was staring at. A dog carcass hanging on a single hook. Skinned and smoked. The bad taste in my mouth almost turned into vomit. As I tried to remind myself that I was merely an innocent tourist, a bystander, I was also reminded of dear old Sebastian back home playing freely in a farm in Conawindra.
At this point, I was giddy and confused and I tried not to look at the bits of blood and grit flying around as the Chinese man butchered away.
Cathy, our trusted local chef and guide explained that the cats and dogs were all bred and not stray. She said that it was a delicacy and that not all locals ate them and she said it wasn’t cheap. She dutifully assured us that it was not something she ate and with that, we happily followed her to the vegetable market and vowed never to return.