My 13-year-old son John wanted to go to the Guanyuan Fish and Bird Market. I agreed to take him but told him beforehand that under no circumstances were we getting another pet. “We’re just looking!” I said emphatically.
As it turns out, the Guanyuan Fish and Bird Market is not for the faint of heart. If this market were situated in the US, PETA would be rioting. Nonetheless, there isan interesting array of animals, including fish, birds, reptiles, scorpions, kittens, puppies and even squirrels on leashes.
What I like most about the market is that it’s old Beijing. It’s outside and tucked among hutongs. Next door is a park where old men hang out with their pet birds, and the faint murmur of Chinese opera can be heard.
Despite my warning to John, after being in the market for a few hours, we ended up buying a baby snapping turtle. We already have a dog and a cat and I know I lectured him about not getting another pet, but with just a small turtle, I think we still narrowly escaped. Even I was eyeing the kittens in their little cages and wishing I could rescue one. In the end, I want to preserve old Beijing and in doing that, I must quietly observe and sometimes just let things be.