Kaili's highlights are undoubtedly in the villages outside of town. You will see plenty of minorities in the city proper but rather depressingly most of them seem to be sweeping the streets, hauling away garbage, or shining the shoes of Han Chinese immigrants. Here in the urban areas only the very old women still wear traditional dress. You can have an interesting morning at the Sunday Market, where minorities from nearby villages sell all manner of goods around Ximen Jie and surrounding side streets. Live water buffalo can often go for under ¥500 ($65/£33), but a smarter and more portable option is traditional clothing. Minority girls learn to embroider at the same time that they learn to read and write, and a festival costume may take up to 5 years' continuous work. If you are not in town at the weekend then head up to Dong Men Jie (Lao Gai in local dialect) in the old town with its wooden house and cobbled streets. There are some great deals here on embroidered baby carriers starting at just ¥30 ($3.90/£1.95) each, or see the shops where they make every possible size of Chinese weighing scales.
Laborers toting their own tools are found sitting on every corner waiting for a day's work. By far the highest concentration of workers is found on the corner of Shaoshan Lu and Yingpan Lu where plasters, carpenters, and bricklayers all sit patiently with their tool boxes on display. Dog lovers might notice the large number of strange albino mutts with pink noses that I have been unable to identify as a particular breed.
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