i can be a bit of an agoraphobe sometimes, and being in a new environment can exacerbate those tendencies. but i am married to my exact opposite, and he decided yesterday that we should break out of our little apartment by going shopping. because he said “shopping,” i agreed.
The Husband had to buy some electronics (router, cell phone charger, etc.), so we first went to Huaqiang Bei, which is supposed to be an electronics mecca. we had a guide with us, a really patient student from the program, so the three of us were driven to the marketplace by our school driver. one-way trip cost us about $10 USD, which is kind of a lot for china.
anyway, we went to Huaqiang Bei, and it was super crazy, we bartered, we bought electronics stuff, blah blah blah. what i found more interesting was our next stop, Dongmen Market, a huge shopping area that has just about everything. we looked around here for some general goods — towels, slippers, umbrellas (it is rainy season here, afterall), but got too intimidated by the bartering system. i was also getting annoyed because i felt like the merchants were trying to pull one over us because we’re obviously foreigners.
Dongmen Market feels a lot like the markets in Korea, namely Dongdaemoon and Namdaemoon. There are big, crowded buildings that are packed with small vendors that seem to have about 5X5 (or even less) of store space. people push and shove; we started getting paranoid about pickpocketers.
there was a section with lots and lots of slippers/flip flops. dude here yelled at me for taking a picture — maybe because he sells all sorts of Abercrombie & Fitch and Paul Frank and Victoria’s Secret slippers that probably have little to do with those brands.
there are many options for street food and restaurants in this area as well. our guide told us that KFC tastes the best in the world. i was far more entertained by these other eateries:
Modern Toilet Restaurant, with pictures of “modern” toilets on its sign. Apparently their chairs look like toilets, see here. I’ve been terrified of using the public bathrooms in China — I wonder if this is a good place to go.
something else i found interesting:
everyone (mostly women, but also some men) uses umbrellas, even when it’s sunny and scorching hot. actually, that’s the whole point — sun protection. at first i was dubious, but when i ducked under our guide’s sunbrella, i had to admit it felt much cooler.