This is my letter to the world, That never wrote to me, -- The simple news that Nature told, With tender majesty. Her message is committed To hands I cannot see; For love of her, sweet countrymen, Judge tenderly of me! - emily dickinson -

Saturday, September 03, 2005

nice buys

yes, i had some real nasty experiences in the middle kingdom. people with bad attitude (some locals as well as the few in my group), hot and dry weather, being in a semi-famish state most of the time, and not able to communicate properly with the natives (this was so unthinkable). but don't get me wrong. things were not all that bad. the shopping was nice. it could have been nicer if i had more cash to spend... but hey, it was a business trip.

so, what was so nice about the shopping? well, in merlion country, i had to multiply the price of everything i bought by two to check whether i had overspent on something (which was usually the case). but in the middle kingdom, i divided the yuan by two to get the equivalent amount in ringgits. was that nice or what?

so, where do you go to shop in shanghai? as a regular folk like me, that is. well, if you're not the politically-inclined-to-be-correct type, head for Xiangyang Market. it's like Petaling Street but a hundred times bigger! and you can find almost anything there: dvds, rolex watches, remote controlled toys (for kids, ok), linens, all sorts of souvenirs. the team and i were there on the second sunday and man, were we in for some heavy bargaining lessons.

the moment we stepped out of the taxi, we were hounded by these locals who shove some cards into our faces. we just grabbed the cards and hurried into the market. later we found out that the cards contained contact information of travel agents. then, once inside the market, we were again hounded by another group of locals. these were salespeople who walk around the market promoting their wares (or stalking for victims). they would ask whether we were looking for watches or dvds or leather goods. and they woud show us their catalogs. we ignored all of them and focused on the shops instead.

whenever i made eye contact with whoever was minding a shop, she or he would invite me in. it wouldn't have been too bad if there was just one person enticing me at a time but because the shops were all crammed close together, i had to deal with half a dozen of them at the same time. it wasn't nice, i tell you.

after milling about not knowing how to start, we let ourselves into a shop selling something that was quite familiar--souvenir t-shirts. the price of t-shirts are about standard no matter where you buy them i suppose. so, with that thought in mind, one of us asked the seller how much his t-shirts cost? one hundred twenty, he said. what? sixty ringgits for a t-shirt? eighteen, we said. twenty, he countered. we settled at nineteen. nine ringgit fifty sen for a shirt. not too bad. so, we thought. only much later we found out that t-shirts were selling at seventeen yuan at the pudong airport!
so, we learned that if the locals offer you a price, go lower to around twenty percent (or lower, if you're brave) of that.

that sunday, i ended up with some t-shirts, silk purses and pouches, silk bags, a rolex for my niece and a couple other souvenirs for the folks back home. and i didn't have to spend so much. not bad for my first time shopping in shanghai.


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