Finding Nemo: Exploring the Yuehe Pet Fish Market

Even though Herr Hubby and I, between us, speak fairly passable Mandarin, getting lost in Guangzhou seems to be quite a common occurence. And even though there were times when Herr Hubby seemed close to losing his cool – or I was on the verge of a major freak-out – overall, we’re now learning to handle getting lost with a sense of adventure.

Over the weekend, we attempted to visit Guangzhou’s famous (or infamous) Pet Market. I say infamous because this market supposedly was Ground Zero during the global SARS outbreak of 2002-2003. Yes, folks, Guangzhou is where SARS originated. We thought we would go to the market by metro but because it was infernally hot and we were feeling lazy, we hopped into a blessedly cool airconditioned cab, told the driver we wanted the pet market and – because he looked bewildered – pointed at pictures in our little guidebook, which seemed to reassure him. Off we went.

On the way there, I was quite excited as for the first time ever, we were crossing the bridge that spans Zhujiang New Town (the part of the city I’m most familiar with) over to The Other Side of the city. Finally, I get to see what The Other Side of Guangzhou looks like!

Our Shi Fu (a respectful term to call your cab driver, literally meaning “master” in Mandarin) did not take  us to the Pet Market, however. Or, at least not the one we had in mind, with the snakes & scorpions and stuff. Instead, he took us to the Pet Fish Market, better known as the Yuehe Fish Market in Fangcun district.  As he drove us through Fangcun, we learned that this district seems to be a magnet for markets, all wholesale; there’s a Flower and Plant Market, a Bird Market, and, of course, the Pet Fish Market. And all of these markets are GINORMOUS! I mean, like, seriously. My hometown could probably fit into one of them.

the Yuehe pet fish market in Fangcun…you can certainly find Nemo in here!

one of the entrance halls to the market…these halls are as huge as aircraft hangars, so don’t get lost

If you’re planning to explore any of these behemoths, I hope you’re a.) wearing your most comfortable pair of walking shoes, or,  b.) have brought your own personal Segway or scooter. Believe me, folks, you’ve got a lot of walking to do and like the Bermuda Triangle, one can easily get lost in there, so don’t lose sight of your kids and keep your other bobs and bits close to you. According to local website Life of Guangzhou, the Yuehe market is the largest wholesale pet fish market in China with an area of 100,000 square metres…Holy Mackerel, THAT is a lot of Nemos they’re selling!
Apart from comfy walking footwear, you should also bring a camera, as this market certainly offers a very colourful and highly fascinating visual spectacle – take a look:

Once we thought we were just getting all fished-out, the market suddenly segued from pet fish to rosewood furniture and handicrafts, mainly made of shellwork, jade and ceramics. But let’s leave that story for another day…

After traipsing around the fish market, we were hot and thirsty and very happy to meet two enterprising ladies near the metro station doing a brisk trade in tasty beverages, one in fresh coconut juice and the other in fresh sugarcane juice – cheers!

the bar is open! hold on to your coconuts…


pour some sugar on me, baby, it’s happy hour

How to get there: If coming from downtown Tianhe/Zhujiang New Town (as we were), Fangcun is a bit of a shlep by taxi, prepare to shell out around RMB 50 or thereabouts (about USD 10). Your best bet is the metro, for only RMB 2 (USD 30 cents), sit in airconditioned comfort and get out at Huadiwan station. The market is right outside. You can’t miss it

Will you be finding your own personal Nemo in the Yuehe Pet Fish market?


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