Category Archives: Shopping

Life of Pi – according to Google translate


Several months ago we went to the electronic market and purchased a few DVDs. They cost about $1. The following is the synopsis on the case of the movie, Life of Pi. Pretend you’ve never read the book (you really should) or haven’t seen the movie. Would you choose this DVD based on the following?

The story begins in Montreal, also ended in montreal. A seeking inspiration author inadvertently learned that sent – patell legend. Sent father opened a zoo. Due to the special living environment, young party faith and human nature has its own set of views. In 17 years old, his parents decided to family migrated to Canada in pursuit of a better life, and he must leave his lover. In Canada ship, they meet a cruel by nature of the French chef. Later that night at sea, originally to send excited extremely stormy moment became engulfed ship disaster. Pie was miraculously survived, ride a boat in the Pacific drift, but also a most beat all companion — Richard Parker, a Bengal tiger. Amazing adventures that accidentally started… …

There are no spelling or grammar typing errors on my part. This is exactly what it says. As I was typing this I realized that as crazy as this is they used its properly. Of course I don’t know to which it they are referring but it does not say it’s.

10:15 PM – 81¬ļ


What exactly did I buy?


Today I ventured to the plant and flower market. They were busy for Chinese New Year but it was manageable. By Thursday the place will be a zoo. We were able to park as close as one can to the entrance. I do not know how Ben does it but George Costanza would idolize him. If you never watched Seinfeld you have no idea what I’m talking about ūüėČ

It is common to decorate one’s home with chrysanthemums and what appear to be orange trees. They look more like bushes but they’re pretty. Like a lot of fruit trees that are decorative the fruit is inedible. They are for sale everywhere, not just the market I went to. They also have kumquat trees. I hadn’t eaten one until today. Ben pilfered one off a tree for me to try. I asked him if I was supposed to peel it, it’s tiny and would have been difficult but I’ve never seen one of these things. Sometimes I don’t know how he doesn’t laugh at me. We all know how gross orange rind is and I didn’t want that!¬† He told me to eat the whole thing, rind and all. I did it, he’s never steered me wrong. The initial bite was sour but then once¬†I got the whole thing chewed it was delicious. My first kumquat was certainly less daunting than my first pig’s blood.

We started walking around and this place was bustling. I did not take any photos because it was crazy and I was afraid I’d get hit by a motor-scooter or truck. The market is just a bunch of covered open areas, stalls, and alley ways. People were everywhere and trucks were snaking their way around vendors and pedestrians.¬† Throw in a lot of people on scooters that beeped at the drop of a hat and you have Chinese chaos¬† and may I say I love it. There were hundreds and hundreds of people there and I was … you guessed it… the only Westerner. There was so much to look at that I couldn’t take it all in. There were so many tropical plants that I’ve never been able to grow because I’ve never really live anywhere warm enough in winter to allow me to do that.

After looking at a couple of places that were selling orchids we stopped one place and Ben¬†motioned me in. We were looking at green plants, no flowers. Plants are all the same in a way, you look for ones without bugs, nice and green in color, and with new growth. I picked one out because Ben really wanted me to. It came in a terracotta pot and he was trying to get me to buy one in a plastic pot¬†that¬†I could transplant¬† in one of the many ceramic ones available (we didn’t even venture into those stalls). When I told him I liked the old, crusty pot it was in he chuckled but he appreciated that I appreciated¬†the character of it. It took him about 10 minutes of talking/negotiating¬†with¬†the saleswoman who was so sweet, I paid, and off we went. I have no idea what they could have been talking about for so long, I guess he was trying to get me the best price.

We walked around and went to the area where the cut flowers are. It was amazing. This is nothing fancy like the flower¬†markets in Europe or NYC ¬†but it was pretty in its own way. The smell was amazing and I ended up buying 10 huge stems¬†of ¬†Stargazer lilies for $15. As we stopped at another place and Ben was looking at plants to buy there were 4 boys, all brothers I’m sure. They were from about 6-12 years of age and they were ADORABLE. They were staring, giggling, whispering in each other’s ears, doing everything but pointing (it’s rude to point in China) and trying to figure out what I was doing there. When I smiled at them and said ni hao they practically fell off their stools. It was one of those moments that will stay with me for a long time.

After about 1 1/2 hours of roaming around we left. On the way home, with the help of Google Translate, I know that I am now the proud owner of an orchid. I am to water it about every 10 days, preferably with rainwater. I need to give it “medicine water” but I don’t know how often and if I do it too often it will die, keep it out of direct sunlight or it will die, and bring it in when it gets too cold and too hot or it will die.¬† I’ll be lucky if this thing lives because I’ve never had an orchid. The plant has 4 flower stems, we’ll see what happens. I need to make Ben proud.


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The Honeymoon is Over


Today’s post has a bitter tone to it. I’m not apologizing, I’m just saying.

Yesterday when I went to the wet market the fruit that I heard about was in season. Several people, including my Mandarin teacher, told me that they are to die for. They are like tiny clementines only a lot sweeter, if you can believe that! They are about 1 1/2 Р2 inches in diameter. I bought about 15 and there were only 5 left today.  Anders is away and I knew that they would be gone before he stepped foot in the apartment tomorrow. So today, the last stop I made was the wet market.

I bought them at a fruit stall that I frequent and it’s right where Ben usually parks. He got out with me because they were a better price than he gets and he wanted to buy some. He also showed me another fruit (longans)¬†that he likes and had me try one. They were delicious, similar to lychee. So he¬†chose some for me¬†(am I not the luckiest person?) and as I paid for mine he was choosing his own. I put the bag on the scale, the woman pointed to 10 on the scale, and told me in Mandarin 10RMB. I paid it. No questions. Well, a little conversation started between her and Ben and I kind of figured out what was going on. The next thing I knew I was handed back 5RMB. When I got in the car I asked him what was said. He told me the sign said 10 longans¬†for 5RMB. She blatantly ripped me off and he caught her. She claimed she was going to give me the change. Liar, liar, pants on fire. She definitely told me 10RMB, she even pointed to the scale when she said it. I have said before that I know I pay more because of who I am and I’ve decided that I’m OK with it. Today I guess it bothered me because she lied about it and I never would have known if Ben wasn’t along. Ignorance really is bliss! It was¬†only 75¬Ę but sometimes it IS the principle.

After yesterday with the Christmas tree and today with the longans, I’m a little sad.

6PM – 65¬į

Cram-packed Christmas crap (say that 3 times fast)


Oh my goodness. I just got back from the Crap Market. I cut my shopping expedition short because I was too overwhelmed. Being overwhelmed is why I like One Link so much but even this was too much for me. I need extra manpower for this trip.

I told Ben that I wanted to buy a Christmas tree and asked him where I should go. I thought he’d say something easy like Metro, the pseudo Super Wal-Mart where I do most of my grocery shopping. Oh no, he said One Link (he doesn’t know I call it the Crap Market). So off we went. I should have known it wasn’t going to be a good trip when I saw how crowded it was. If I had known we were going there I would have asked him to pick me up earlier. The building he showed me to go for a tree was one I had never been in. It’s the “Artificial Flower” part of One Link. I should probably let you know that the stores are gearing up for Chinese New Year on Jan. 23. I have never in my life seen so much red and gold nor have I ever seen so many Chinese lanterns and paper wall decorations. The main building of the Crap Market has a large open space in the middle of the building, similar to our malls. Not so in this building. It was cram-packed with stalls all cram- packed with the same stuff. It was one giant cram-packed mall.¬†

¬†There were a lot of tree decorations, tinsel, lights, and miscellaneous decorations. I saw someone walking down the steps with a life-sized Santa. That was a sight to behold. A Chinese man holding Santa! Anyway, there were a few stores that had just Christmas trees and I stepped into a few but didn’t see anything I particularly liked. I wandered up to the higher floors (as you know, they have¬†better quality items) and found a tree that I liked. It wasn’t huge and wasn’t¬†pre-lit¬†but it would do the job for the next 3 or so years. I asked in Mandarin how much it was and she said 900RMB. Well that’s equal to about $135! I could pay less than that in the States for the tree that I was looking at. No way! I countered a lot lower and she shook her head. Then she started talking to a man sitting at a desk and her counter offer was 1,000RMB. I’m no expert at negotiating but I’m fairly certain that once the process begins the seller doesn’t¬†UP the initial offer. I left without so much as a smile and thanks for your time. Hah. I may be a Westerner but I’m not stupid. I looked around some more but I think a combination of jet-lag, catching a cold from my airplane seatmate, and general overwhelmingness¬†(new word) were too much to overcome.

I called Ben and got in the car feeling disappointed. He was surprised that I had nothing and I tried to explain that I was not in the spirit and not feeling well and I should have had him pick me up a lot earlier and because the place was a zoo – didn’t say that exactly – I didn’t buy a tree. He asked¬† how much they were, which he prefaced with saying they should cost about 200-300 RMB! Well when I told him what happened I think he was tempted to turn the car around and give shopkeeper girl the what for. Seriously. He acknowledged that we get ripped off because we’re Westerners and I explained that it’s OK. It is what it is. Even so he was irritated that she tried to take advantage of me to that degree. Well, I had the last laugh because shopkeeper chick didn’t make the sale. But I didn’t get a tree and now I have to go back. Maybe she’s the last one laughing.

Not sure if I’m going to make Anders come with me this weekend or wait until Andrew arrives next week and have him go. He needs to see¬†the Crap Market at its best/worst¬†and he will appreciate it. Ben also said that if I wait until next week¬† I’ll be able to get a tree at a better price. Oh like maybe 950 RMB? I was so overwhelmed that I didn’t even take a picture but I promise I will when I go back. It has to be seen to be believed.

3PM (nap time) – 72¬į

Grapes from California?


I went to the wet market on Monday. I needed a lot because now that I have my kitchen all set up there are no more excuses to go out for dinner, at least during the week.

I took my “little money” because the vendors don’t really appreciate being handed a 100RMB¬†for something that costs 4RMB. I don’t blame them. 100RMB¬†is equal to about $16 and 4RMB is equal to about 65¬Ę. My dad asked me about the money¬†in China¬†so in the future I will do a post about it.

I bought: 5 large tomatoes, 2 red peppers, 1 English cucumber, small head of broccoli and cauliflower, big bunch of scallions, 4 apples, bunch of seedless grapes that were imported from California which means I paid way too much for them but they are fantastic, snow peas that were curly, 2 cabbages, 2 small heads of romaine lettuce, 3 carrots, 1 bulb of garlic, and cherry tomatoes. I went to 4 different vendors. They are very sweet and like to choose the best produce for me and they really do choose the good stuff. I guess it makes them feel better about charging me more.¬† I was done in about 20 minutes. I saw a woman buying live shrimp, hopefully for dinner that night because you can’t get much fresher than that.¬† I mean they have fish swimming in tanks so why not live shrimp? I think the next time I will buy some. Guess how much it all cost?

Yes, that's my dish drainer!











I don’t even have everything photographed that I bought. $12. That’s right $12!¬† I pay more than a local so I can only imagine how much I’d save if I had an ayi (household helper) and sent her to do the shopping.¬†Which¬†will never happen because I love the wet market. After I got home I had to spend about 45 minutes washing everything and putting it away but it’s worth it. The fruit and vegetables are so delicious. Just look at the colors!

“Tailor-ware” party


We went to our friends house last Friday evening to meet D’s new best friend. D is really into having clothes made and might be slightly addicted to the fabric market, by her own admission. She’s the one that took us¬†1 1/2¬†weeks ago to meet her “shirt” guy. By the way, they should be ready to pick up in 2-3 days according to Ben. Yes, we had him call because the tailor spoke very little English and yes, he’ll also go pick them up when they are ready AND yes,¬†we know we’re spoiled. D’s¬†new BFF makes house calls and was thrilled to meet 4 more of her friends. Mr. H speaks very good English and was easy to work with.

D was in India on vacation and bought 2 saris. The salesman tried to convince her to wear¬†them as saris. Indian women are beautiful and I think they look amazing in saris. D thinks a Western woman wearing a sari just looks like a Western woman¬†wearing a sari and I¬†agree. ¬†She had one made into a Chinese-style dress and a pair of pajamas, and the other made into a Chinese-style jacket. The 3 pieces were gorgeous and I wish I had taken a picture. Based on the work he did for D, we ordered a few things. ūüėČ

¬†Anders decided it would be funny to wear his largest pants there. I guess he thought the tailor would take pity on him and give him a good price. It was hilarious because he could have done an ad for¬†a miracle weight-loss program, that’s how big they are. He pulls his belt to the last hole and the waist gathers so much it looks like he’s wearing a flour sack. When he gets dressed in the morning I tell him that those pants are¬†ridiculous or not hideously large.¬†Not¬†hideously¬†large means he can go to work as dressed, ridiculous means go try again. Mr. H¬†had¬†a lot¬†fabric samples but I insisted on wrinkle-free material. I’ll iron shirts but I refuse to iron dress pants. Ugh. Anders ordered 8 pairs! Truly, there is not one pair of pants that fit him. Mr. H is going to make one pair, come to our house, and based on that he’ll¬† make the rest.

I ordered 2 pairs of dress pants (had a favorite pair copied just much smaller¬†thank you very much) and 4 shirts. The shirts¬†are copies of 3 shirts that I had. I was going to donate one of the shirts before we moved but then remembered how everyone in China raved about tailors so I brought it along. I’m so glad I did. When Mr. H brings Anders’ guinea pig pants, I’m going to have him go through my closet and determine what existing clothes can be tailored down to fit. It seems wasteful to just get rid of everything and have all new made. You can also give the tailor a picture of something you want made and they do it. Now that’s talent! Mr. H also had beautiful Chinese silk. He had shiny silk and not-so shiny silk. It’s all dry-clean only but I think I will have to have something(s) made. Not sure what but oh my, I wish you could have seen the fabric cards. You name the color and he had it.

I have to admit that I can see how it can be addicting. Shopping for fabric is entertaining. You see a stall where the fabric is piled high, walk in,¬†and start digging. It’s kind of like looking for seashells. It’s a treasure hunt and you don’t know what you’ll find. I actually saw one woman who was crawling across¬†a stall and she was above eye-level. Perhaps I never mentioned this but safety standards in China may need a little work.

The female readers seem to be very interested in this part of the China experience. I say, “Come for a visit and experience it for yourselves!” As soon as everything is done, I will post pictures. We can’t wait. We can’t wait to see¬†our things. I can’t to see Anders in somethings that actually fits and he can’t wait to wear¬†something that actually fits. Time for him¬†to show off that new svelte frame ūüėČ Now I have to go to India (perhaps visit the Taj¬†Mahal along the way) and buy a sari.

Mr. Right is a creeper


I thought it might be interesting to show you what I’m up against when I’m food shopping. To put it simply, a lot. I have no idea sometimes what I’m buying. When we lived in Switzerland the packaging was written in 3 of the 4 official languages and occasionally all 4. They were German, French, Italian, and Romansch. Between them I had a good shot at not only knowing what I was buying and the ingredients, but if there were cooking directions I could decipher them as well. In other words, I managed. Sometimes I don’t have a clue here.

I didn’t need to buy this item and I don’t even know what¬† is in it. I was in a section and the¬†aisle¬†marker just said Asian Food. The best they could do in a food store in China is “Asian Food”? I may be wrong but I’m thinking about 90% of¬†the inventory¬†is “Asian Food.”¬†Not much of a help other than it was in English. I roasted chicken wings the other night for dinner and decided to put it to the test. I was going to put some on a few for Anders to try. I knew there were pepper seeds in it but when I opened the jar (following the only English word, thanks I think I could have figured that one out all by my lonesome) and tasted it it was hot! It also had a surprising amount of things other than pepper seeds in it. I saw what I believe to be peanuts, juniper berries, bay leaves chopped finely but still able to choke a person, and a lot of other solid matter. It seems to all be plant-based so it’s OK. ¬†Actually the wings turned out to be milder than I thought and I will have to add more the next time. It may have told me that but I don’t know. Perhaps the directions said, “This tastes hotter raw than cooked so if using in a cooked dish add more to kick up the heat.” I think the woman pictured looks rather austere but for all I know she could be China’s Aunt Jemima!

I love this gum. Yes, it’s made by Wrigley’s but that’s all I know. I first had this gum on our looksie trip in April and I loved it. When we moved here I was so glad to find it. I always thought it tasted like honeysuckle, oh yes it’s a flower flavor which I know sounds gross but it isn’t. When I finally saw the package I knew it wasn’t honeysuckle. I asked Ben what the flower was (see the picture on the package?) and of course he didn’t know the English word. All he could tell me was that it’s a flower that helps with digestion. About 2 weeks later we were driving somewhere and he got all excited and showed me the flowers growing in a park. They are chrysanthemums. I need to interject that I spelled that word without looking it up and it was correct! Now I know that I’m eating chrysanthemum gum.I highly recommend it. I had to have my driver show me the actual flower growing along side of the road though to learn that. ¬†I do think that it whitens my teeth as I chew. There is a very sparkly white tooth in the top left hand corner. It’s just part of the fun.

Of course we all know what these are but I thought you’d be interested to see the package. My kids were happy to know that I was able to buy these here because they are my weakness.I do believe that¬†the Chinese characters are telling me that they’re peanut. ¬†The funny thing is that¬† this container, along with another, has been in my cupboard for more than a month, UNOPENED. Now I’m really hungry for them though.

If you guessed Chips Ahoy! you guessed right. So you may not have needed to guess at that one, it’s rather obvious. But what if they’re made with some ingredient ¬†that I’m not familiar with. It’s possible.¬†Rehydrated fish bladder could be used as a preservative, I don’t know. Not sure I want to either so perhaps ignorance is bliss. Sidenote: these were in a welcome basket given to us by the apartment complex Aug. 1. I think I should just throw them away because I would never eat these anyway. If I’m going to have chocolate chip cookies, I’ll make them myself and eat most of them myself as well.

Not much imagination was needed to figure out that this is Coffee-Mate. Actually it might be Cremora¬†but that’s not important. What is important is that I may be missing some very important direction underneath the photo that will make me melt against husband in the morning and look dreamy when using Coffee-Mate. By the way, I know that they’re drinking coffee because you NEVER, EVER, EVER put milk in Chinese tea. I believe that I may have to take this to my Mandarin lesson next week because I sure as heck do not look like that woman in the morning when I drink my coffee. I don’t even look like her after I’ve had 2 cups. I only look like that after Anders has brought me a beautiful bouquet of flowers for my birthday or presents me with tickets to Bali ūüėČ

I bought this yogurt because I knew it was strawberry. When it comes to yogurt¬†all I know is the flavor. A strawberry is a strawberry no matter where you live in the world. There is a sales girl at one of the stores where I go and every time¬†I approach the yogurt pile she pulls out 2 different kinds. They are both made by the same manufacturer¬†and they are always the same flavor but she’s¬†trying her darndest to tell me something about the difference. I have no clue and even afer I tell her in Mandarin that I don’t understand she keeps talking. I think she must get paid by the word! I have no idea if it’s full-fat, low-fat, or non-fat yogurt. I will say that it’s very good so I’m guessing it’s full-fat. I think one of my goals before I leave is to figure out what the cute little sales girl is trying so hard to tell me.

I love dim sum. I finally took the plunge and bought frozen dim sum after I saw a number of Chinese buying it. If it’s good enough for them then it will certainly do for me. I was lost. I love the steamed buns and that’s what I bought. I just have no idea what the filling is or how to prepare them. I closed my eyes and this happens to be what I came up with.

And last but by no means least, there is  Mr. Right. Look closely because the only English on this package of almonds is announcing to all the world that this is what Mr. Right looks like. I always thought he looked like Anders. (Aaaawww) I never knew he wore a pimp hat and had one hand freakishly larger than the other. Frankly, I think he looks like a creeper!

I apologize for any errors in this post. I’m late getting ready for the Tailor Party and I have to get this posted. Sorry, I’ll time manage myself better in the future ūüôā