A farmer’s “wet” market right on the edge of the touristy old town of Lijiang? Not exactly what one would expect – but it’s there.

On my search for insights into ‘Red Hot China’, these were the kinds of places I was looking for, much more than anything touristy.

Lijiang as It’s Known

Tourism is what most people come to Lijiang for – if not for a (rather special) sense of romanticism.

Consequently, these are the kinds of images usually associated with Lijiang:

In the immediate vicinity, though, something else can also be found.

Actually, there are even more intimately-connected examples of tourist area and horticultural growing of vegetables here, in the old town of Shuhe and even within Lijiang!

My Market Town Lijiang

My colleague and I found this market, in part, because an eatery there was recommended to us – and it’s worth a glimpse.

It’s only too typical – interesting and good, as elegant eating and fine dining can be – that such a nondescript eatery should cook so well!

(More on that, here.)

But, let’s have a look across the market:

Lots of vegetables, in tremendous diversity, as usual. Around the edges of the market, quite a bit of dried good – including not so little chilli.

Considering that the cooking here does not use a lot of chilli – or so people would tell you if you ask them about spicy dishes using lots of chilli – the market offerings speak volumes.

The Tourist Chilli

The chilli also makes its appearance in the souvenirs being offered, all over the old town!

The various “chilli sauces” on offer here – chopped, salted duo lajiao, “chilli crisp”-like “oil chilli” and more – are not necessarily the most regional, but sure are marketed like that.

They do seem to have their tradition, too; the Naxi peoples grow quite a bit of chilli – and use it, too.

What is – or looks, in a touristy context – more typical is that it’s no longer only beef jerky that one finds as a snack. Here, it’s also yak meat. Of course, also hot, with chilli.