To say the Huadiwan pet market here in Guangzhou is big would be an understatement. When you first get off the metro at Huadiwan (Chinese: 花地湾站; literally “Flower Ground Bay Station”) you don’t immediately see the scale of the place:
As soon as you step through the entrance, it seems pretty normal… fish tanks, bags of fish ready to go, goldfish, koi, tropical fish, marine fish etc. Click ‘read more’ to see more photos of this crazy place.
But after walking down a few streets like this, you begin to get a sense of the scale of the amount of animals changing hands here. Everywhere you look people are selling fish. There are row upon row of these tanks, crammed full of every kind of fish imaginable. There are nets laid out on top of the tanks, and people catch the ones they like the look of, putting them in small plastic tubs.
Business is brisk, as the place is always rammed. Stand still for too long and you’re in the way of the next customers.
I’m not exactly an expert, but I’ve kept fish long enough to know that many of these are rare, if not endangered species. There’s stuff that would be completely illegal to own in the UK, such as snakeheads and sharks. (yes sharks!)
blood parrot cichlids, fly river turtles, and some african catfish.
Okay so the fish section isn’t all that bizarre. Aside from the size of the market and the variety of fish available - these are typical scenes of any fish shop.
Where things get crazy is when you take a stroll down the turtle street. And I do mean street - there are thousands of turtles for sale here. Snapping turtles, huge tortoises that have outgrown their tubs, buckets of baby turtles…it’s all available here. People browse through the turtles like you would fruit at the supermarket - turning them over in their hands, inspecting them, before chucking them back in if they’re not up to standard. Sadly, this analogy isn’t too far off - many of these turtles will be eaten.
One guy I talked to was trying to sell my baby soft shelled turtles, and part of his sales patter was explaining that you could eat it when it’s fully grown! 2 in 1.
Words don’t really do this place justice, so I’ll let the photos do the talking:
As well as turtles and fish, there are yet more sections to this market. Tropical frogs and toads, salamanders, reptiles, axolotl are all in another section. I haven’t fully explored this part of the market yet, but here’s a few photos:
Also, there is a cats and dogs section:
This is a list of prohibited dogs. You need a special licence to own these. I’m pretty sure it’s illegal to sell them at the market. A lot of the larger dogs that I saw a while back seemed to have disappeared during the Asian Games. This is typical of China - whenever there is an event that brings their country into the spotlight, they’ll clean things up.
As the Asian games are over - these dogs have started returning. I think is a Tibetan Mastiff:
A Tibetan Mastiff.
Long Haired Siberian Husky
As well as dogs, you can also buy ‘miniature’ pigs. Turns out they aren’t so miniature after all - I saw some of these in the local park (pig racing - as you do) and they get massive!
There’s a pig in that pile of dogs somewhere.
This guy looks like he’s been slapped in the face with a wok
I’ll update this if I see anything else pop up at the market whenever I next visit. If you’re ever in Guangzhou, this place is certainly worth checking out - but bring hand sanitizer.
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