One of the Beijing’s myriad of curiosities, the roadside pet-store is the one I love and hate. I don’t enjoy watching rabbits in small cages or turtles out of their natural habitat. But, its hard to turn your nose up at the chance to see animals you’ve never seen at close quarters before. When such an opportunity presents itself while you wait to cross a street, it is irresistible.
Its pretty easy to pick up a pet hamster, goldfish, squirrel, guinea pig, tortoise, turtle, rabbit, dog, bird off these pet-store-on-wheels handcarts. The Wudaokou area, with its largest population of lonely students, is a good market for these vendors. The vendors are pretty sporting and allow you to handle their animal-wares. I admit that having a squirrel or turtle in the palm of your hand is pretty exciting.
The plant and pet “store” next to exit B of the Wudaokou metro station has the usual suspects. Thrown into the mix are pink salamanders, exotic fish, snakes and what in my limited zoological knowledge was clearly the grass eating, armadillo-esque dinosaurs from Jurassic Park. My room-mate Bobby helpfully pointed out that it was a snapping turtle, an expensive snapping turtle at 1500 RMB.
At the time I wrote this, I was a relative greenhorn. Little did I know that less than a year later, I would be at Kunming’s Flower and Bird Market which would make Beijing’s pet stores look utterly tame in comparison. That’s a story for another day though (Spoiler: Multicolored chicks, tarantulas and sugar gliders) Now that I’m back in Columbia, SC, and cars come to a halt to let me cross the street, I find myself missing the adventures of walking on the streets of Beijing.