Markets are perfect for catching a glimpse of the cultural side of the place you’re visiting. There you can taste unique local cuisine, hear all the rumors and buy anything your heart desires, be it fresh fish, funky smelling fruits, magic wands or even a monkey skull. Yes, there are places on this planet where you can buy legit baboon skulls, chicken bone talismans and all sorts of mystical stuff. Here are some of the most messed up and bizarre markets and shops from every corner of the world.
1. Beijing Food Market, ChinaDo not visit the food market near Wangfujing Dajie, if you’re hungry. You’ll probably end up buying a duck, a few chicken hearts, a stuffed eggplant and some pancakes for dessert! Basically, if it’s edible – you can buy it here. And even things that you’ve thought were inedible, like scorpions, ants, grasshoppers and snakes are here as well, so you better prepare your digestive tract for a bumpy ride.
2. Deyrolle, Paris, FranceOn your next trip to Paris, don’t forget to visit the creepiest shop in Europe – Deyrolle taxidermy. It’s full of nightmare fuel and if you’re very sensitive to that kind of thing, you should probably just peek through the window. Inside you’ll see stuffed boars, tigers, elks heads, and even bear rugs! Whatever your “wild” party needs – this shop probably has it.
3. Zombie Apocalypse Store, Las Vegas, USA
Recently Zombies became so popular in games, movies and other media, that some guy in Las Vegas thought to himself “I’m gonna make money selling anti-zombie weapons and gear!” and he freaking did. If a zombie apocalypse comes, you know you’ll be the first to join the ranks of the undead, regardless of whether or not you have a Hello Kitty t-shirt, a sword and a gas mask. The store does sell quality (yet overpriced) pre-packaged dry food and survival guides, so there’s something useful at least.
4. Muara Kuin Floating Market, Banjarmasin, IndonesiaKnown as the “city of a thousand rivers”, Banjarmasin doesn’t have big land markets, instead people use small boats called “jukung” to bring all sorts of foods and goods to the Muara Kuin Floating Market. It’s really fun to see how this water market starts to thin out when the sun sets. All the uneaten dumplings floating away from you… that’s so heartbreaking.
5. Witch’s Market, BoliviaFeeling like you could use some good luck? Get yourself a dried llama fetus, which is said to bring not only good fortune but also prosperity. I hear what you’re saying “but where do I get one?”, easy – the Witches’ Market in Bolivia. That place is packed full with all kinds of talismans, charms, dried creatures and a whole butt-load of funky ingredients you do not want to see in your soup. Aside from snakes, their venom, aphrodisiac potions, common and rare herbs, folk remedies and countless other items you can also consult real Bolivian witches about your future, if you’re brave enough. Good luck!
6. Ka Firushi Bird market, Kabul, AfghanistanDo you like birds? If you do, you simply have to go to Kabul to witness an amazing gathering of bird enthusiasts – the Ka Firushi bird market. Older people sell magnificent songbirds like canaries, nightingales and budgerigars mostly for profit, while teens and adults see it as more of a fun hobby. The market is situated in a quiet part of the city where no car can fit through, so you will be able to fully enjoy the birds tweeting their songs.
7. Lomé Voodoo Market , Togo (West Africa)
Most people think that Voodoo originated in Haiti but little do they know, this religion actually has deep roots in West Africa. In Voodoo every creature, alive or dead, is potent and divine, that’s why you’ll find piles of bodies of various animals stacked on one another in different stages of decay. Dead alligators, goats, chickens, lizards, monkeys, leopards and corpses of many other critters are being sold here. Also, it smells like something died there. A lot of something.
8. Gypsy Brides Market, Bulgaria
If you thought the Indian culture was “uptight” about their wedding traditions, wait till you hear more about the Romani (Gypsy)! In a nutshell it’s something like this: girls are taken out of school at 15, not to provoke any unwanted intermingling with the boys, and then, when the time is right, they are being sold by their parents on the Gypsy Brides market for up to $6,000, if the girl is really cute. The price is always negotiable, though. Best market in the world, right?
9. Fes Tanneries, MarrakechFounded in the 8th century AD, the city of Fes has a long history that influenced its development, yet some parts of it have not changed at all in the last few hundred years. One of those districts is the Fes el-Bali Medina. Located behind a wall, the Medina has narrow alleys you can only reach on foot, where merchants and skilled craftsmen sell products like fish, various spices, dates, urns, fantastic-looking carpets and even musical instruments.
10. Diagon Alley Shops, London, UKThe day when every Harry Potter fan squeaks in awe has come! Technically, this is old news but some of you may not know about the HP theme park in London. It has all the awesome locations from the movies and books and you can even interact with some of the set pieces to trigger certain events. It has everything you’ve ever wanted from a Harry Potter experience, including the shopping district – the Diagon Alley. There you can visit the Malfoy Manor, Crumple-Horned Snorkack, The Leaky Cauldron, Knockturn Alley, buy a magic wand, cast some of the spells to unlock secret locations and, generally, make all your HP fantasies real. Leavus commentus!