17 September 2009

How Do You Say Vegetable? Shop Til’ You Drop

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Stacey my traveling companion is a committed kosher vegetarian, and one of those words doesn’t even exist in Chinese. In fact, as I learned this time around, the word for vegetarian translates literally as “I love vegetables,” which in no way speaks to the reality of the situation. Needless to say, we decided to go with the far more forceful “bufang rou,” which translates more literally as “absolutely no freaking meat. At all. NONE.” Minus one little hick-up with some spicy tofu, it’s gone well.

So has the shopping, at which Stacey is an expert! We decided to cram all of it into one very long, very structured day through Shanghai. It all started at the fabric market, where I had some linen pants made for $8 and Stacey stocked up on all things silk, from pashmina scarves to ties. From there it was a short taxi ride to Old Town, which is the process of being Disney-fied to look “Chinese.” This segment of the shopping adventure can be aptly named “sit, sip tea and get yelled at for refusing to pay $80 for 250 grams of green tea. Walk out refusing to pay, get chased down the street, finally agree on a price and have the woman HATE you then pay accordingly and have the change thrown in your face. Oh wait - that is exactly what happened.

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Onward to the bag market at Quipu Lu, pronounced “cheap street.” Seriously. Taxi drops us and a guy immediately approaches offering “watches and bags.” For whatever reason I decide he is totally trustworthy and we follow him in. Three hours later he has acted a personal shopper, tour guide, bargaining assistant and bag carrier. We have everything we need and don’t have to actually “look” for a thing. Perfection. Stacey is now the proud owner of three “Chanel” bags, a “Chanel” watch, some Le Sport Sac and some “Ray Bans.” I now own a $4 fanny pack branded “Shallow Grass” and reading “Believe in Yourself. Full of dreams and full of hopes. They would let you feel warm no matter where you are. They would bring you joy no matter who you are. Shallow Grass will be with you forever.” Combine that with my “North Face” windbreaker and you’ve summed up our afternoon.

Onward to DVDs! 140 disks and $135 later, Stacey and I are happy as pie. A nice afternoon rest and we hit the town to do what Shanghai does best: entertain. Citizen Bar and Sichuan Citizen for dinner with my amazing Shangers friends and a perfect Shanghai day is complete. Best. Place. Ever.

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And a final thank you to our marvelous host Catherine! Love!


Kyle Taylor

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