Shaxi’s Friday Market was by far the most interesting of the markets we had had visited in China’s Yunnan Province. Sha Ping Market, the previous Monday, was big, lively, and interesting. But Shaxi’s market was even bigger, seemingly engulfing the whole town. It had a more culturally diverse population compared with the Bai-dominated market at Sha Ping.
We strolled through the crowds, passing everything from vegetable vendors to men performing sidewalk dentistry. People here carry hand woven baskets strapped to their backs like backpacks. If they lack that, they’ve got a baby strapped on their back. Shaxi and the surrounding villages seemed to be the epitome of China’s disproportionate showing of elderly and infants that make up the majority of China’s villages and small towns.
Many Yi and Bai people, minority nationalities of the region were trading goods dressed in their distinct and colorful clothing.
Shaxi is a relic of the once busy Tea Horse Trade Route of China’s Yunnan Province. It is listed as an endangered site by the World Monuments Fund. Much town is undergoing restoration, and is certainly worth a stop as you travel between Lijiang and Dali.
Shaxi is located 45-minutes southwest of Jianchuan. There isn’t much to do in Shaxi besides visiting the Friday market and strolling through the narrow streets admiring the mud brick houses and imagining the busyness that once occupied the town’s main, now nearly deserted square.