Everything in China seems to be a profit making opportunity or something to be bought and consumed. So far, we've had a variety of shopping experiences - the small mini marts on campus are easy: no haggling, small shops, and the shop keepers are getting to know us. They don't have everything in them though, only instant noodles and tacky table lamps. So we went to the "supermarkeet" on Westgate, which was a bit bigger. Here I learnt to read packets properly after accidentally buying an oatmeal ice cream. Frozen porridge isn't nice. In town we have been to a couple of markets which are like multi-storey department stores but with lots of tiny shops on each level. Here haggling is essential, so the first time, when we went to buy phones, we went with Jerry from the English Club who knocked off a few Yuan the prices. The second time we coped on our own, haggling for towels and a rug. Instead of speaking too much in a noisy market, in China they use a series of hand signals instead of numbers - I've just about mastered them and they come in handy as I can't mispronounce them and knowing them marks me out as not a total novice.
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Century Mart
Then there's Century Mart. We went there yesterday on our own to get food and stuff. It is a lot like a market, except a bit more expensive and the brands are real (mostly) not fake knock-offs. And there, among the clothes, instant noodles, papayas and fish tanks was a sight I did not expect to see in China: Susan Boyle's face, peeking out from the CD rack. I don't think that the Chinese have very good taste in foreign music...

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We had a bit of an adventure: first of all, the shop assistants (I have never seen as many shop assistants!) surrounded us to sell their most expensive products at every opportunity. Then, our mop lacked a bar code which caused a lot of fuss while a crowd gathered to watch. Radios came out, the mop was taken from us, we took it back, they took it again and disappeared, only returning 20 minutes later. Ed tried to pay with Mastercard, which meant more phonecalls, a bigger crowd and lots of pointing, and in the end we couldn't use it. Then, getting home was a bit of an adventure. Our tuk tuk got stuck in a big hole in the road full of mud and rainwater. The motor stalled so, clinging onto our bags and the seat for dear life, iron under my arm and mop poking out the door, we rocked backwards and forwards to help propel the tuk tuk out of the muddy hole. 




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