Fabric, Fabric and more Fabric in Keqaio
Some photos in Keqaio Market
I've been going to Keqaio (Kerchow) in Zhejiang Province one night a week to teach at another college, for some time. This semester and in 2008. I get picked up by my driver at 6.10 pm each night at the West Gate of the college, and delivered to the door of the private school in Keqaio. It is often dark when I get there, and I've seen little of the city in daylight hours.
My new private student is from Keqaio, and today she was supposed to visit my "home" for her lesson, but she rang about an hour earlier as her mother had had a good idea. They would come and get me and take me to Keqaio from Shaoxing, and we could go shopping and then have lunch at KFC, and then I'd visit her home.
Sounded like a good idea, so I said "yes" and wait at the West Gate for them to come. Her mother was lovely. She had been driving for just 2 years, but managed to manipulate her way through the traffic without scaring me too much. Strangely though it was only 40 minutes away, she did not know her way from one city to the other, so had picked up a friend along the way.
Soon we were on our way - and I directed her some of the way and she laughed that I knew the way. There is something about Asians (Yes, Chinese and Koreans) that they don't seem to know how to read road signs or maps.
Anyway we soon arrived at the walking street of Keqaio and after a short walk, we arrived at the fabric markets. My, how I wish I had found this amazing place before!!! Probably a good job that I had not!!
Keqaio is right in the centre of textile manufacturing - this is where so much of the fabric that we buy all around the world comes from.
When we drive into Keqaio of an evening the roads are full of piles of fabrics - all in these protective bags. There are piles of them on the side of the road and a motley collection of big trucks and little cars carrying them off in all directions. I've always wondered if everyone knew that their fabrics had sat on the side of the road waiting for transport!!!
People ride their e-bikes or motor bikes piled high with these strange looking bags - how they drive would send an Aussie policeman into a frenzy. Some trucks piled high for 6 or 7 feet above the truck and definitely overloaded by our standards drive by, often with one or two men sitting right on top.
This carting back and forth goes late into the night. Some of it of course ends up in the markets. The building itself has seen better days and to me looked like a huge fire hazard - but that is common here.
There were cubicle after cubicle of little fabric shops, each with their own speciality. The Indian and Pakistani traders tend to sell the elaborate sequined fabrics, and the local Chinese trade in silk, linen, cotton and an array of new style fabrics. The floors are uneven, and there's little space to walk and being a Sunday there was a lot of activity. I gather later in the day it would be much busier.
My student's mother insisted on buying me some silk - I have enough of a new style of fabulous silk to make two pairs of long pants. And she would not take any money for it. I was rather embarrassed about this. I was afraid to pause and admire something as I feared she would want to buy it for me.
We then walked back through the street to KFC. She found a jewelry store and thought I might like to look, but I was afraid to, lest she'd want to spend some money.
Mother left to go and get little brother, who was the cutest little 12 year old!! He was more like a 9 year old. Could speak a little English and like his big sister had an engaging smile with dimples. He's going to be a heart throb when he gets old.
Just minutes away was their home in a huge complex. The garage door opened to reveal a large garage area which is used as a dining room when there is a family event. One changed into inside sandals at the door. No wonder the floor was spotless.
There were 6 levels. A big kitchen and dining room, and lounge room that would make any Aussie housewife happy!
The large main bedroom had a flat screen television on the wall, and a small table and two chairs where Mum and Dad have tea. The daughter and son have their own rooms, above the parents room. There's a laundry area and a huge drying area - open the sliding glass doors to get the fresh air in. There were three "wash rooms" each with modern western toilet.
The whole place was wonderful - spotless.
I spent some time there with a little lesson, and then as mother had to go to the factory - she is the boss of a factory that manufactures clothes. Dad was at his work - I gather they are not at the same place. He is a boss too.
More food. Watermelon, dried beef pieces, rock melon, candy etc. And a wonderful gift pack of green tea. I protested about the latter but in the end had to take it. I don't know about getting it back to Australia, but it is so wonderfully presented.
And so it was back to Shaoxing.