Getting Lost At San Yue Jie, One Of The Biggest Temple Fairs In China

“Getting Lost at San Yue Jie,” published in Vagabond Journey on May 15, 2013

In the last week of April, the fair came to town in Dali.

There were games, fried foods, “snake women,” horse racing, music, and crappy trinkets for sale. It was a Chinese carnival. The occasion was the full moon in the third lunar month. That’s when the local Bai ethnic people hold their biggest festival of the year: San Yue Jie, or Third Month Street.

When a friend first told me about San Yue Jie, I thought it was San Yue Festival. In Chinese, the word “jie” (?) means “festival” while “jie” (?) means “street.” They have the same sound, and most festivals are called “festivals.” But San Yue Jie is called Third Month Street because the festival takes place largely on the Third Month Street, a place where merchants come to set up stalls selling food and items.

By now, the festival has extended to many more streets than just Third Month Street. Western Yu’er Road and the road parallel to Third Month Street are also packed with stalls

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