China: Guangzhou – Qingping Medicinal Market
This is one of the largest markets in the world for what’s called “traditional Chinese medicine” but is more like “weird dry stuff that witches use”. The market is in a five story building and every floor is occupied with sellers and stores and many many bags of stuff – a total of over 1,200 booths! This is actually the only chinese herbal medicine market in China that is officially sanctioned by the Communist Party. Dried mushrooms of all sorts and sizes, humongous bags of dried morels, deer horns whole and finely cut, various roots and bark, dried starfish, seahorses, crocodiles, frogs, and huge amounts of the cordyceps. Cordyceps are caterpillars that are infected by mushroom spores that alters caterpillar behavior and make them dig into the ground like zombies and then the mushroom grows out and fruits above grounds – considered super valuable in China and sometimes is worth more then gold! For somebody seeing all this for the first time – it must be mindboghling, but I’ve seen a lot of it (and worse) around the world, so I was frankly expecting more of weird animals and live bugs, but there was none of that.