According to the signs,the street below our apartment is called Lanqing Jie but to English speakers in the area, it’s known as Little Street. How can I possibly put it into words that will bring it to life for you? Pictures will help but without the sounds and smells, something is missing. Little Street really must be experienced to be fully appreciated but since you can’t all come to visit, I’ll try my best to describe it.
Close your eyes and imagine the sound of a crowd such as you might hear at a sporting event. Now add intermittent horns honking, the occasional rumble of an old truck or the sound of a motorcycle passing by, and if you can hear it, the sizzle of food hitting a hot grill. As darkness falls, add music pouring from the open doors of a nearby restaurant and the sounds of bottles clinking and voices rising as some of the patrons enjoy the open air seating across the street. Little Street is usually quiet for a few hours in the middle of the night!
Then there are the smells, most of them emanating from the various food stands along the street. Barbequing skewers of meat over hot coals is very popular and usually smells pretty tasty but sometimes billows of smoke fill the air. Occasionally the smell of overheated cooking oil forces us to close our windows.
You can buy almost anything on Little Street. In addition to the restaurants and food stalls, there are several fruit and vegetable stands and lots of permanent businesses as well as the vendors who simply set out their wares along the curbs to sell. There’s a pharmacy that’s clean, bright and well organized but most of the shops selling clothing, hardware and other household items are tiny and crowded. The scene is a constantly changing one. Where fast food was being sold a few days ago, a new beverage shop called Miss Milk is now celebrating its grand opening.
Though Little Street seems pretty unique to us, there are thousands of streets just like it in hundreds of cities across this country! It’s just one of the many faces of China.