China Elevator Stories

“I’m Here Even When It Rains”

A local woman at Tiger Leaping Gorge in Yunnan province is selling marijuana at a lonely vegetable stall high up in the mountains.


Ruth Silbermayr
Ruth Silbermayr


In 2013, I visit Yunnan province to climb Tiger Leaping Gorge. I have met a couple, a German and a French, on my way there, and we walk up the mountain together. At one point, we come by a lonely stall high up in the mountains where a local woman is selling fruits and vegetables.

I point at some of the leaves she is selling and ask her: “What is this?”
She answers: “This is ganja. Would you like to buy some?”
I reply: “No, thanks”, and buy a cactus fruit instead.

I then ask her: “How many people come by here every day?”
“Currently, not many. Around 20 come by every day. Foreigners like hiking up Tiger Leaping Gorge, Chinese don’t like hiking it up that much. When China’s National Day Holidays start next week, there will be more people.”

I further inquire: “How do you get all these things up here everyday?”
While pointing at her sunshade umbrella and her table, she tells me: “I keep these things hidden nearby. I carry the fruits and the vegetables all the way from my home to this place every morning in a basket on my back. If there are fruits I can’t sell on one single day, I carry them back home in the evening.”

“Where do you get the fruits and veggies from?”
“I grow the cucumbers, pears and cactus fruits in my garden. The oranges, bananas and apples are from a local market nearby. There is a market in a neighbouring village every Friday.”
“How about the Ganja, does it grow wild here?”
She lets me know: “People grow it in their backyards. It’s against the law, but foreigners like to smoke it.”

I then ask her: “Are you here everyday?”
She replies: “I am, I’m here even when it rains.”

When we have finished eating the fruits we bought, we thank her and continue our hike up the mountains.

Have you ever climbed a mountain in China?