Peering down into a black carved ceramic bowl as two crickets are shaken out of the chambers that house them. I watch how they land softly and crouch at the bottom of the ceramic ring. These are fighting crickets, bred and valuable to be entered into competition. Mr. Liu breeds crickets for fighting. I met him on the third day of my journey in Beijing.
A Chinese amusement as pets for their song but also crickets are selected to be for fighting. In 12th century the first record of cricket fights were recorded. Traditionally in Chinese, cricket fighting males are only bred to females with three tails as Mr. Liu conveys through a translator. The male and female have an ornate wedding bed, a miniature enamelled box open on both sides.
Mr. Liu explains that a cricket’s antenna is sensitive. Most cricket masters use blades of grass to touch the sensitive antenna that instigate a fight; however, Mr. Liu created a slender tool with 3 rat whiskers at the end like a brush to give softer stroke to the antenna. In a cricket competition the loser is the cricket that firsts turns away or raises its wings. Another important tip, for any would be cricket owner, is to never pick a cricket by hand as the legs are delicate and break easily.
Read: “Chirps and Cheers: China’s Crickets Clash, and Bets Are Made” – The New York Times.
Watch: “The General of Pets: The Incredulous True Story of Cricket Liu”
Tonight I am in Lanzhou a three hour train ride through the centre of a mountain range. The last two days were spent n Xi’an , the official start of the Silk Road. My introduction to this giant country has been one of jaw-dropping awe in the magnitude of development in infrastructure…roads, rail, underground…all public signage is in Chinese and English. Organisation of 1.4 billion people in this diverse topography is clearly a challenge and yet it is a society that seems to pull together. Noticeably 99 percent of the tourist are Chinese and this is significant when the Forbidden City , only , receives 30 to 40,000 people a day. The organisation of movement of people is outstanding. Roads are lined with flowers and though there are complaints of traffic, I did not experience traffic congestion as I have in Cairo, Lagos, and New York. Riding trains, I have the opportunity to experience the vastness of agriculture lands, industrial areas, and mountain ranges and this country is impressive. The only downside is the Internet or lack there of. Google is banned, Yahoo does not work well and once accessed, the Internet is slow. Therefore, though I am having profound experiences, I may not be able to share them or to a much lesser degree.
Lanzhou is known for it place in the Silk Road where caravans from the West met the Yellow River that was used for moving themselves and exchanging goods. Today, I travel to the areas of Bingling Si Caves, accessible by boat to visit 183 Buddist grottos carved into the Yellow River canyon walls.
While I have some Internet access, here are some highlights from the last few days.
Internet is slowing…not sure how long I have…
(all rights reserved, copyright 2017. To copy or re-produce photography and/or writings, written permission from Lesley Lababidi)
All Photographs and text are under international copyright laws. No re-use without the written permission of Lesley Lababidi 2023.
As usual you are painting a magnificent picture of your journey. I was daunted by the prospect of all you are planning to do, but when you write about it, you sound relaxed and totally in charge. Even the lack of internet, being a challenge, you will overcome. We are enjoying your trip with you, and look forward to the wonderful stories and pictures as you travel the Silk Road. Thank you for sharing with us.
Really appreciated your comments. I am trying wherever I go to see if the Internet is strong enough to blog but so far not much luck
Along the past days, I ve been checking your blog more than 3 time a day, anxious to make sure you are ok and enjoying your life dream! Really thanks a lot for sharing ! Stay safe and enjoy to the maximum!
Hamduallah, all is going well. I am traveling by rail and car and though there is data on the sim, the Internet does not support google, etc , plus Internet is very slow. Thanks so much for following me.
Excellent insight! It’s also interesting to see how much China has evolved in the past couple of decades. And where communism has failed in many other countries, it’s succeeded in China, but I think China is not fully communist- in terms of politics, it is communist, while in the economical aspect it’s more like capitalism.
Thanks Hasham for your comment. Your thoughts are much appreciated.
Very interesting! Never heard of cricket fights and grooming.
Me too! Quite a surprise
It is quite a new experience. There is an adage, in Hausa language, which says, “Allah daya gari banban” (One God, but different worlds). In Nigeria, and in other parts of the world, crickets are destroyed using insecticides, not knowing that they can make one rich! I would love to watch the cricket-game. We have them in abundance in Nigeria, i shall try this game, or train them for sale. The Great Wall is wonderful! Nice and educative post, Lesley.
Na godi ! Thank you for sharing the thoughtful saying. I am always looking for connections of people and culture and your adage encompasses why it is important to travel and understand. Thank you , L.
Amazing. How’s the chop? Is it Chinese all the way?
Cricket fighting? Didn’t know it was even possible.
If 99% of the tourists are Chinese, does that mean you stick out?
Hi, would it be possible to have permission to use a couple of your pictures elsewhere?
Hello, I sent you an email. Thanks, Lesley