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Hong Qiao Market (Red Bridge Market), Beijing

The popular "Red Bridge Market," about 10 minutes south of Tienanmin Square, is probably best known by tourists as a place to buy pearls and antiques. But down in the basement, where few of those tourists venture, is a bustling food market.

In late autumn when crabs were in season you can see hundreds of crates filled with live crabs, stacked row after row, aisle after aisle. There's plenty of other seafood as well - various fish (some live in tanks), lobsters of all sizes (including some huge specimens), turtles and eel, plus numerous stalls specializing in shark's fin and dried fish.

There's also a large meat section up front, and teas, grains, beans and similar products in stalls along one side wall. The whole market is very noisy and interactive, as vendors encourage hands-on inspection of the various turtles, crabs and other items on sale.

Note: Since publication of this feature, the Red Bridge Market has closed.

Hong Qiao Market

opposite the northeastern entrance to the Temple of Heaven

Open 8.30am-7pm daily

Copyright (c) 2005 Robb Satterwhite.

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