If I had to describe Chinese trade markets in one word it would be overwhelming.

Anders and I went to a sporting goods store today to buy equipment for badminton. Watch out Andrew I’ll be a pro by the time you arrive. I knew there was a kitchen market across the street from where we were and Anders and I decided to give it a go. I just wanted to look.  Ben pointed us in the right direction for what a home cook would need because in the same area there is a market that caters to hotels. Actually I could have used that in Switzerland because I feel like I ran a hotel. That’s not a complaint, I’m just stating fact. We could see from the car that it was going to be a huge place but we weren’t prepared. I went in the first store that was full of white porcelain dinnerware. That alone had too much choice. I was only looking for a little white creamer with a lid. As usual when I’m faced with too much choice, I started to shut down mentally. That was one of dozens of stores that sold white dinnerware. When we really got started walking into the bowels of the “market” I became comatose.

I meant to take a picture with my phone and was so glazed I forgot. From what we could see it was probably the size of 2 football fields. Across the parking area was another 2 football fields of shops and across the street from that was yet another kitchen market with about 4 football fields worth of individual suppliers of kitchen ware. They sell anything from restaurant size appliances and equipment to things for the regular person. We went into about 5 shops and I had to call it quits after 45 minutes. I wasn’t planning on buying anything anyway but I walked away feeling a little disappointed. I was disappointed in myself and the market. Why can’t they just have a market where there are perhaps 10-15 stores and be done? Why must there always be hundreds of stalls all selling the same stuff? Don’t they know that I want to buy but can’t when there is sensory overload? Why can’t I figure out how to deal with this? By now I know what the markets will be like. I’ve been here for 2 1/2 months and have been to too many not to be prepared mentally. I need a game plan. I live in the country where all our labels say, “Made here.” I want to take advantage of that while we live here but it’s impossible.


About vikarenously

I am an ex-pat living in Guangzhou, China. I am married to the man of my dreams who has indulged my love of travel by working hard enough to snag two international assignments. Oh yes, I also have two amazing children who accompanied us on our first one to Switzerland and are now mature and responsible adults which makes it so easy for us to experience this adventure as empty-nesters. Experience it vicariously with Karen.

6 responses »

  1. Wow. And I thought the Target on Ridge Rd. was overwhelming. Coincidently, Tom and I just had a ‘tea’ lesson from a chinese family who runs a tea shop, while in Seattle. I too, bought one of those large disks of tea. I wish I remember the cost, but I am postive we overpaid for it. This one was for the ailment of digestion, and already somewhat aged, but they too said that it gets better as it gets older. They told me not to store it anywhere that is warm…ie kitchen cabinets with lights or near cook surfaces) so it’s in the library. I hope I don’t forget about it.

  2. Here in Shanghai they have entire streets devoted to products, there is a street for books, one for kitchen items, one for hair products, it is hilarious. My husband went on a search for a lighted makeup mirror and they gave him a hand mirror and a flash light after much Chinese discussion.

    My Chinese friend is going to take me to Cheapo Lu, low priced clothing I am told.

    I went with her to the kitchen wares street and it was fascinating watching her choose and bargain, they all had what she wanted just not the price she wanted to pay. They hand inspected and repacked every glass she purchased. And carried them to the taxi.

    • Hi Nola, the amount of service they provide for the price you pay for things is astounding. I love the lighted hand mirror story. How practical and they were probably wondering why your husband hadn’t thought of it 🙂

      PS – There is a stationery street here and I think it’s one place I most definitely would be able to buy more than I could ever use in a lifetime so Ben has strict orders to never take me there!

  3. We found the same in the tea market, 3 floors and hundreds of vendors. Where do you start? We were very fortunate to have been given advice to head for the 3rd floor, we met a lovely student from the University who talked us through what we wanted and a tea tasting. We wondered around the rest but didn’t buy. I could then see when I had asked Muir to get something, he had said he didn’t have time! i had wondered what the problem was about going into a store, bargaining and leaving with the item. Now i know!

    • There was a tea market across the street from the kitchen market. I need to take a class on tea or something before I venture into that. Ben told me that they age tea like they age wine. I didn’t know that and that shows how much I need to learn before I ever buy something other than Lipton.

      • that is the puur tea(black tea) The one I bought was 4 years old (on recommendation from the student) which is the youngest and cheapest. It is in a flat disc weighing 375g and you break off about 8g per time. It is kept at room temperature and the older it gets the better it gets.. (wine was the analogy they used too!)
        We were so surprised with the service too, We had negotiated the price on the oolong tea which was for 500g, they offered to bag it in 8g packages so it would keep longer, and so Muir and i could each have 250g. We asked how much and they were shocked we would think that it would be any extra!
        If you can find anyone in the tea market that speaks English, they are happy to do tea tastings. We did puur, green and oolong, of several grades and chose the ones we liked. It was great fun!

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