Lisa McClure's China Diary

Lisa and DanDan
Just home with our new lovebird

Lara, Lisa, and DanDan
Lara, Lisa, and DanDan

DanDan moves into his new home
DanDan moves into his new home

DanDan gets settled in
DanDan gets settled in

DanDan, the newest member of the family

DanDan, our 6 month old peach faced Lovebird

November 20, 1999

Well, I've held out for nearly nine months now, but finally I just couldn't resist any longer, and finally bought us a pet today. At heart, I'm really a cat lover, but I just couldn't face the responsibility of rearing a cat here in China, or the worry of what I'll do with it when we return home in a year or two.

Here in Jinzhou, the pet of choice for many people is a small dog. Nearly all of them look fairly similar, of the whitish, Pekinese variety. I've been told that they are illegal to own in Jinzhou, but if so, the law is definitely not enforced, because they are all over the place.

But I've never been a dog person, and these little dogs have definitely not tempted me. Other popular pets around here include rabbits, fish, turtles, and a huge variety of birds. I've even seen some hedgehogs! So it took me a while to decide what sort of pet to get for Lara and me. Finally, after long deliberation, several trips to the pet market, and some Internet research, I finally settled on a lovebird.

The pet market is a single block outside on a single street in Jinzhou, filled with vendors selling all of the animals, food, cages, and other equipment pet owners need. Because it was Saturday, this morning, lots of individual breeders were standing around as well, selling their animals, and there was a large selection of lovebirds to pick from.

I went earlier this week and bought the bird cage by myself, on a quiet, and very cold afternoon, and paid the vendor's asking price of 20 yuan for it. ($2.50 U.S.) But I decided to come back on the weekend with friends to buy the bird.

As a potential customer, especially as a foreigner, and absolutely guaranteed whenever I have Lara with me, I am never allowed to make a quiet, inconspicuous purchase. Nope, the standard drill is to be completely surrounded by people, many of whom are asking Lara and me the same old questions, (i.e. how old is Lara, is she Chinese, does she speak English, does she speak Chinese, what country am I from, where is her father, etc., etc., etc.,) the rest of whom are talking about us in Chinese, while the vendor does his utmost to sell us as much as possible.

I can speak Chinese well enough to shop for myself, but if I have to make a complicated purchase and ask questions, then I really do enjoy having my friends come along to help me out. Otherwise, the pressure from all of the people and attention is really too hard for Lara and me to bear. So, I took several students along with us to interpret and provide a little moral support for us, and we went to buy our new baby this morning.

As I expected, buying the lovebird wasn't that easy. One of my friends, Allen, tried to convince me to buy a parrot. (they were asking 150 yuan for these) He told me enthusiastically that I could teach it to speak both English and Chinese. I admit that I was tempted, but when I saw how large the adult parrots were, I just didn't think that our rooms at the guesthouse would be big enough for one of those. I also saw many very beautiful song birds as well, and even some very exotic wild birds. But I felt comfortable sticking to my original plan to get the lovebird.

There were lots of lovebirds at the market, in a variety of colors and types, but Lara and I were both attracted to the bright yellow ones, and after looking at all of the ones available, I selected the one with the reddest face.

The breeder wanted 20 yuan for it, but when he saw that we would buy from somebody else, he relented and let me have it for the standard going price of 15 yuan. (~$1.80 U.S.) We've been told that it's a boy, but of course, we have not real way of knowing, nor does it really make any difference to us. It looks very healthy, and we were told that he's six months old now. While we were at the market, we also bought some bird corn and bird seed, then took a taxi back home.

It didn't take us too long to name our new baby, DanDan, which means 'Red', or to get it settled into its cage. I clipped DanDan's flying wings, so he can't take off, and he seems to be settling in fairly nicely.

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