Tag Archives: shopping

Happy Soldes!

28 Jan

Right now is a very special and important time of year in France: soldes. The shops here only have sales twice a year, now and in July. Since everything is normally so expensive, this is when everyone goes freaking crazy to get a good deal. Prices are slashed anywhere from 20% to 80% off, depending on where you are and how far into the sales you get. The longer you wait, the better deals, but there’s no guarantee that those shoes you’ve been eying will be there in another day.

It’s a lot of fun wandering around and looking at things, but I’ve been pretty good so far. I haven’t bought anything yet, but this weekend is the last of the sales and I plan on heading to the big mall at La Defense and getting a pair of boots and some nice pants. Hopefully, I can get away with some decent bargains with three weeks of saved pay. It’s not like I need to eat anything more than bread, right? That’s what I thought so.

The Lotus Market

19 Dec

The first thing you notice about the Lotus Market is the crowd. Chengdu’s a big city, but it has a long way to go to get the sort of “seething mass of humanity” feel like Beijing. The Lotus Market is the closest I’ve been to that sort of massive crush of people. The cheapest way to the market is the north-bound 55 bus; the end of the line is the Train Station stop and the warren-like streets around the station make up the Market. People are everywhere, the wide streets narrowed with stalls and stands and tiny little tables full of merchandise. Walking in a group of three is an effort, weaving in and out of the steady stream of humanity.

The Silk Market of Beijing is a tourist trap full of goodies and fake leather bags, cheap Prada and Gucci knock-offs, and enough panda paraphernalia to make the WWF blush. The Lotus Market of Chengdu is nothing like it. This is where the locals shop, where the locals do business. I have seen exactly two other foreigners there. No one speaks English at you, everyone assumes you have a rudimentary ability to converse in Chinese and the normal “laowai fee” isn’t too high.

I bought some gloves this weekend. I know, it’s not exactly a glamorous purchase, though I did buy some cheap pearl earring studs, in the rare chance I might tire of my silver hoops. Katia and Ann bought some Christmas presents. I was exceedingly happy that I’ve already got my present-situation covered. It’s been a nagging thought at the back of my mind for two months so when I sent off my Christmas parcel it was a blessing to finally get rid of that worry.

I like visiting the Lotus Market, provided I have already had my preemptive aspirin and that I am thoroughly caffeinated. Unfortunately, yesterday I did not manage to drink any tea or coffee in the morning as we ventured out and so I got steadily grumpier as time went on. Katia and Ann deserve medals for putting up with me. (I think they’ll settle for chocolate, though.) I really, really don’t like the sound of horns or cars beeping, which is a staple of China in general and the Lotus Market in particular. The streets are a de facto pedestrian area but there’s always some asshole in a Mercedes who thinks they can drive through or the scooters piled high with merchandise in a rush to deliver on time.

Visiting the Lotus Market is an exhausting affair. After two or three hours, even the brightest of spirits have flagged in the open-air chill. The temperature might be in the forties, but it is a bitter , wet cold that goes straight through your coat and sits in your bones. It is a dishonest cold. So, moderately triumphant, we left the market with our spoils and decamped to McDonald’s for hot chocolate and french fries. Any day that ends with hot chocolate is a good day.


14 Sep

SO, I was going to use this blog post to talk about my classes.  Unfortunately, due to a series of rather silly mistakes by myself and my professor, I still haven’t attended any classes yet. I’m going to a lecture tonight which should be interesting, though. Instead of talking about academics, let’s talk about why I love shopping in China.

First up, my shiny new cell phone.  I got this at the Trust-Mart, a Wal-Mart knock off that has been my saviour these past few weeks.  I’ve gotten ramen noodles, silverware, and other useful necessities there.  It’s a Samsung Galaxy Mini.  I realise this means very little to most people.  I’m just amused by the name.  Key features include a touch screen, music player, internet, GPS, and a Chinese-English Dictionary.  I love this thing with a passion.

I also refuse to say how much I paid for it, except that I wanted it, dammit, and it’s shiny.

Yesterday I found the local dvd stand.  Usually, it’s just a dude on the sidewalk with a couple of suitcases full of dvds in thin plastic sleeves, but here at Chuanda, he’s established enough to have a few permanent cases next to a bookshop.  I think it’s pretty telling that he’s set up over by where the foreign student dorms used to be.  Anyways, I was thumbing through and found the holy grail.  All six seasons of Supernatural.  I paid 36 kuai, which is roughly under 5 bucks.  Think about that, six seasons of dvds for five bucks.  I’m going back for the Doctor Who set when I’m done.  (Curiously, Supernatural is called something along the lines of “The Power of Evil” in Chinese.  Yeah, I dunno what they were thinking with that. Appropriate, but…)

I also bought myself a plant for the room.  It’s a cactus of some kind.  I was told by the store owner that they are nigh indestructable.  I am kind of waiting to prove her wrong.

Yes, I have already named it.  This is Scipio.  (As in Scipio Africanus, the Roman general who kicked Hannibal’s Carthaginian butt.)  Can you tell I’ve been listening to “The History of Rome” podcast when knitting, or what? He sits on my desk and looks pretty.

That’s mostly it on the cool things I’ve bought.  Likely, there will be a few installments of this, especially if I get anything totally awesome in the future.  That’s it for now, folks.