Monthly Archives: April 2011

Bird and Flower Market

I took a walk today to finally check out the Bird and Flower market right up the street from where I live.  I think it would be better described as the “Small Animal and Cricket Market”, but that is just me.  They did have some plants and flowers… along with many, many other things to see.

All sorts of plants to see... from cacti to roses

A room of plants

But plants weren’t what I was most interested in looking at – or in photographing.  All the other living creatures were my fascination.

Like the crickets – a common pet in China since long, long ago.  Kept for their song or for cricket fighting – which apparently is popular in the early autumn.  I might need to check this out.  I have always hated crickets – they drive me crazy.  But these were all caged so they weren’t as bad.

All sorts of crickets!!

Little teeny crickets

BIG crickets

Crickets eating cabbage for lunch!

There are all sorts of accessories and homes you can buy for your pet crickets as well, like little houses or a food dish.  A common way to keep a cricket is in a small, dried, hollowed out gourd.  Apparently this amplifies their song.  In the market, however, as you can probably imagine, it was very loud with millions of crickets chirping away.

Little woven cages - all full of crickets!

Every cricket needs a dish to eat from - right?

If the chirping of the crickets wasn’t enough commotion for you, there is always the chirping of birds.

A shop full of little bird cages - each with at least one bird.

Any kind of bird you would like…

Baby birds - chicks and ducks

Adult birds

Big birds and little birds

And of course for your birds, you need some food!  (I don’t think these ones are pets…)

mmmm.... maggots

Alongside the birds, crickets and plants were fish and reptiles too!  Again, in all shapes, sizes and varieties.

Fishy, fishy!

Fishies with their alert guard cat

Little turtles...

Big turtles!

Land turtles...

And funny looking sea turtles

And a few lizards... (Bearded Dragon?)

Now, I have a huge heart for animals.  It doesn’t bother me to see insects in cages, or maggots as food.  Those with scales and feathers can some times be sad to see.  But when it comes to furry friends, they really break my heart.  So if your heart for animals is even half the size of mine – be forewarned, it may be hard to get out of the market alone.  Unfortunately, I can’t take them all home…

Guinea Pigs


Mice, hamsters, whatever you want...

Bunny rabbits

And bunnies galore

Kittens crammed in cages

More kittens...

Sweet grey kitty...

Little dogs

Bigger puppies - this sweet thing broke my heart 😦

Lots of animals needing lots of love…

The bird and flower market is a neat place to check out, but you can expect to be heartbroken by all the animals and the conditions they are kept in.


Secrets in Shanghai

Lunch and Hidden Treasures

My co-worker (former co-worker as of tomorrow when I will have officially taken over ALL of his classes)  and friend Roger mentioned the other day this secret, awesome location he found – right on West Nanjing Road that is similar to Tianzifang but without the tourists.  On Wednesday, after finishing my 汉语(Chinese) midterm and before I had to go teach for the evening, we decided to meet up for lunch so he could show me this newly discovered area of town.

As we were walking down West Nanjing, just a minute or two from the subway stop on a street filled with people, expensive shops, western brands and traffic; I had my doubts about finding someplace so unknown.  However, when we turned to walk into the gates of this little Chinese community that seemed like any other residential area, I also had doubts about finding anything worth seeing.  Forget things worth seeing, I was hungry – and I didn’t even think we could find street food in these deserted rows of houses.

We walked down the first little alley and my suspicions of Roger’s hidden treasure grew, “This is just a dead end” I claimed, stopping a few doors from the end of the alley… But was it really?  Roger led me down to the very end – where behind the last gate you could peer into the house and see a little coffee shop with seats set up inside.  Peering into another house, there was a barber shop inside – a woman sitting on the front step in the sun, reading a magazine with dye in her hair.

Down the next alley (pictured below) was an amazing shoe store –can you see it?  The signs are frequently on the inside of doors, so when the doors are shut they can’t be seen.  Other signs or plaques hanging on the brick walls outside are easily removed each night and brought inside.

Find the shoe store...

They are just normal houses – with hidden treasures inside, a great opportunity to take a look inside the homes of Chinese people.

Entryway to the shoe store

Peering in the window - shelves of shoes, all designer brands

Still hungry, we wandered down another alley.  There was a little coffee shop and Roger mentioned they might have food. As we were both ready for lunch, we figured it was worth checking out.  Walking inside, I was transported back into Portland.  A trendy, rich coffee cultured and comfortable environment, brightly painted walls, artwork, books, wine bottles and coffee equipment – sights and smells my senses weren’t accustom to in Shanghai.

Soaking up the atmosphere

I start looking at the shelves of coffee related products and knickknacks when I stumble upon locally roasted coffee – the name on the bag matching the name written in chalk on the gate to the house.  I was astonished –could they possibly be roasting and selling their own coffee here??

GZ Coffee Shop and Restaurant, right this way!

Knickknacks & Coffee - this is the entire shop

No way!! Artisan coffee, roasted right here in Shanghai!

I attempt to ask the question, but they didn’t understand.  Instead, I was distracted by the beautiful, handwritten paper menu, tied together with yarn that was placed in front of me.  Will Hutchens of Caffeinated PDX came to mind and I started snapping pictures of the espresso machine.  I opted for an iced Americano and the “spaghetti with bacon, onions and cream.”  Roger had the spaghetti Bolognese and a mango smoothie (made with milk and fresh mangos).

From beneath the counter - handwritten, beautifully made menus

Making my espresso - this shot is for you, Will!!

After a couple more photo opts, with my delicious and strong Americano in hand, we took our seats at the one table outside – patio seating.  It was here I realized that yes – this coffee is roasted here – as I spotted the coffee roaster sitting in the corner behind Roger.

I believe this is where my espresso was roasted!

On a Chinese couple’s front patio, between the coffee roaster and their house/coffee shop, we had grape vines growing above us, the brick wall separating us from neighbors on one side and the kitchen where our food was being prepared on the other side.

Outdoor seating!

Barista turned cook - view of the kitchen from our table, lunch is prepared.

In the doorway to the shop,  someone sat and watched us – she was soon joined by her daughter.

Mommy and baby watch us eat!

Other than the people who lived in the house we were visiting and the cats, in the 45minutes or so Roger and I spent there we didn’t see a soul.

At one point, Roger asked – “Do you hear cars?” I listened intently.  Birds, I hear birds – and the cats meowing.  Wait…I listened some more. No, I don’t hear a single vehicle.  We were in one of the busiest, metropolitan, westernized parts of the city and I heard birds chirping, the sounds of a kitchen, the water trickling behind me (Roger joked that it was a waterfall – but in reality it was the gutter) and our own voices.  Paradise – a hidden treasure – in the middle of West Nanjing Road.

Lunch is served (and delicious!)

One more shot - just because they are adorable

We looked at a couple more shops full of cutesy knickknacks and Chinese-inspired art and another amazing looking wine bar/restaurant that Roger had eaten at the night before, but then the wind started picking up, the rain clouds grew darker and with a roll of thunder in the distance we decided to head home.  I had to get to work anyways!  But I will be back – soon!!

Another front patio - another shop!

Another front patio - another shop!

Beer – America’s milk

Shanghai does have good beer – and this is my new favorite.  It is being featured as the “brewer’s choice” at Boxing Cat Brewery right now and over the past 5 days I have made it there twice because I wanted to try it!!  It’s a Belgium tripel brewed with ginger and sichuan peppercorn.  It was love at first sip… and it only got better when I learned (on my second trip to the pub specifically for this beer) that it has over 7% alcohol content.  A tasty AND strong beer!

Yummy beer ala Shanghai

So I had been craving this tasty beer since I heard about it online (thank you wonderful world of facebook).

The brew master for Boxing Cat happens to be from a lovely little place known as Portland, Oregon – heard of it??  He used to brew for a little company called Widmer, know them??  Oohh… a Widmer Hefeweizen, a slice of lemon and sunshine does sound like a lovely spring afternoon treat!

Anyways, I heard of this beer (Belgium Tripel) a week ago kept trying make my way over to Boxing Cat after work one day to try it out.

Saturday night, I finally got some of my coworkers to join me for a little slice of America at Boxing Cat Brewery.  My Chinese coworkers.  I have to say, it was quite the sight.  The sweet, innocent, young, English teaching, Chinese girls I work with who (some of them at least) never go out, never drink, never had tried beer and probably thought the prices at Boxing Cat were beyond outrageous were convinced to go with me.

As we first walked in, a waiter went by with a couple beers and one of my co-workers (who had told me before she has never drank beer and would never like beer) said, “That beer looks good!!”  She was intrigued because the beer had – wait for it – color!  It is true folks, not all beer is the color of Budweiser and Tsingdao.

Eight of us (me being the only “westerner”) crowded around a table in the bar, as the restaurant was packed with expats on a typical Saturday evening.  The girls didn’t want to pay the prices and the portions at Boxing Cat are HUGE (I normally roll myself out after dinner…) so we decided to share.  I told them that it wasn’t going to be like traditional Chinese-family style dining, it is a bit harder to share a hamburger with the entire table than a plate of noodles or stir-fry.  I suggested ever two people just decide what they want and they could share.

I ordered my beer (Belgium Tripel) as soon as we sat down, and told the girls they could try it and then decide if they wanted that or something else.  They all had a sip, declared it ok – but weren’t wanting to invest in a pint.  At my suggestion and after much deliberation, it was decided they would order one pint of a traditional, light, German style helles for them all to try.  It went over okay, but it was more similar to “regular” beer they decided.  As Boxing Cat selects four (of their own – see them here) brews to have on tap at any given time, and two were no-goes, they decided to search the cocktail menu and were delighted at the sweet & fruity cosmopolitan & appletinis they ordered to share.

Cocktails for my coworkers

I wanted to get another pint of the delicious new beer I discovered. So I was disappointed to hear they had tapped out and had something else pouring.  Instead, I opted for the Sucker Punch pale ale which I had tried in the past and enjoyed.  I hadn’t recommended this one to the Chinese girls because I knew it had a stronger hops flavor than some of the others.  Based on my own experience (and admittedly limited knowledge of beer) I thought a beer that wasn’t as hoppy (if that isn’t a word, it is now) would be a good place to start non-beer drinkers.  Much to my surprise, when my Sucker Punch pale ale was passed around the table for sips, it was declared the favorite by the girls.

Sucker Punch Pale Ale

Between my drink orders, the food came – absolutely delicious as always, the eight of us shared a dinner size steak salad with blue cheese crumbles, some of the most juicy hamburgers ever, spicy BBQ pulled pork sandwiches and a Cajun chicken club sandwich all served with thick cut steak fries.  As I ate my half a hamburger, I watched in amazement as the girls cut up their hamburger into 6 pieces to make sure everyone was able to try it.  A look of absolute astonishment crossed the face of one coworker as she exclaimed she would be SO fat if she lived in America – she had tried hamburgers before but this was NOTHING like KFC or McDonalds!  Yes, this is what REAL Americans eat and drink.  The good stuff.

The girls took pictures of themselves holding beers to prove to their boyfriends they could drink, we laughed and talked and were probably a sight to be seen. It was a memorable and fantastic experience in Shanghai; taking Chinese girls into a completely foreign environment and letting them experience a little of my culture in the city some of them grew up in.

Boxing Cats bar - Yongfu location

Oh, and if anyone at Boxing Cat wants to thank me for this free endorsement – I’ll take a pint of whatever you have on tap.  🙂

Qipu Monday III

Part III: Cupping?

Part one & two about my Monday afternoon & evening can be found here: Inside the Qipu Shops & Street Shopping

I had been to this particular massage parlor once before with May, but this time it was a different experience.  It was wonderful both times, don’t get me wrong, but it was a more blog worthy event the second time.  Five of us, two Taiwanese, one Chinese and two Americans, hopped on a bus and went to the massage parlor.  It was around 8:30pm when we got there – these places are generally open late.  The Chinese speakers told the receptionists what we wanted and went back and forth for a bit in dialogue that I could not understand, before they asked us to take a seat and wait.  It would be just a minute.

Literally, a minute later, they were ready!  In China, it isn’t an issue to walk into a massage parlor and request a room and masseuses for five people ready.   Yes, one room for five people.  Massages in China are a social event.  Forget a private spa-like room with candles, soft classical music and hushed voices in the hallway.  This is China!  We go into a room with 6 big Lazy-boy type chairs and ottomans. There is a flat screen TV on the wall, small tables between the chairs for your tea (which is provided for free) and an ashtray (in case you want to light up a cigarette while they rub your feet).

We are asked if we want to change our clothes and we opt for doing so.  Chinese body massages do not typically involve oil or bare skin contact.  Oil costs extra (sometimes it is outrageously more expensive – depending on where you go) and the massage is frequently done with some sort of clothes on and through a sheet that is laid over you.  Five sets of cotton pajama type outfits are brought in for us, shirts and bottoms individually packaged in cellophane – (I take this as a sign of cleanliness – the smell of laundry detergent also puts my mind at ease).

My change of clothes

Sportin the massage outfits

When we are dressed, the TV is on and our tea orders have arrived, we settle into the big soft chairs and are brought buckets of hot water to soak our feet in.  We chose the 130 minute massage which includes a 60 minute foot massage and a 70 minute body massage for their special rate of 99rmb (about $15). They start by soaking your feet and this time we had some type of ginger wrap wrapped around our knees held on with saran wrap.  It got really warm – like icy-hot – and felt wonderful after walking all day.  As your feet soak they massage your legs, then dry your feet and massage them.

Ginger stuff

Of course during this time everyone is chit-chatting, the TV is on, and the masseuses are talking with each other and with us.  The girls had requested male masseuses because they “give better massages”.  I never had felt this to be true, but after being to this location twice – I do feel the guy I had the second time was better than the girl I had the first time.  Unfortunately, there were only 4 males on staff and one was already busy.  We got their other three males for the foot part of the massage and then the one who was busy joined us later for our body massages.

Normally, after the foot massage the armrests of the big chairs are taken off and the chairs lay completely flat (with a hole that was hidden by a cushion for your face); however, I don’t think there was enough room for them to maneuver around us in that room so they moved us into two other rooms that were adjoined by a sliding frosted glass door.  In this room, they laid out the chairs and had us lay down for our massages.

Yumi and I were in one room and hadn’t turned on the TV because I don’t think we really need to watch TV while getting a massage and also because it is hard to watch when you are laying on your stomach anyways.  I did notice, however, that a few minutes into our massage one of the guys turned on our TV.  Apparently, it is entertainment for the workers as well as the clients.  So there we lay, enjoying our deep tissue massages while listening to the chatter of the Chinese girls in the other room, the noise from what sounded like a Chinese soap opera from the TV in the adjacent room and Chinese music from our TV.  But really, it is very relaxing!

On our way to the massages from Qipu, Osteen told us she was having a cupping treatment again tonight and asked if we had ever tried it.  Cupping therapy is a method of traditional Chinese medicine which involves using little cups with hot air in them to create a vacuum on the skin; this supposedly gets rid of toxins in the body, improves blood flow and improves the flow of qi.  It also is said to have many other health benefits.  Yumi and I looked at each other and did a “if you do it, I’ll do it” exchange and figured for 30rmb – why not try!

Well, now that time had come.  It was cupping time and I was nervous.  I had seen the marks it leaves on people once in the states (the only time I had heard of this practice before China) and also on Osteen as she had done it before. But I didn’t know what to expect.  I was told it might hurt or cause a bit of discomfort my first time, they advised Amanda that it would hurt her more because she is so thin.

We lay down on our stomachs, this time without our borrowed cotton pajama tops and waited. The guys brought in trays of small glass cups, what looked like some rubbing alcohol and stick with a type of wick on the end to light on fire.  They started on Yumi, first, so I was able to turn my head and see what was going on.  Fire was used to heat up the jar and the air inside the jar before it was placed on the bare skin on her back.  I asked her if it hurt and she said it didn’t…. okay, my turn!!

As they put the cups on my back it doesn’t hurt, you feel suction for sure but it was fine.  Then they leave them on your back and cover them with a towel for several minutes.  After a minute or two of laying there with 11 cups suctioned to my skin, I ask Yumi, “Is yours starting to hurt?”  “No… I feel fine.”  Hmmm… okay, well mine were causing some discomfort.  Not necessarily pain, but I didn’t feel comfortable at all and was more than ready to have them taken off.

A work in progress...

Luckily, in another couple minutes they came off and it feels amazing when they do.  Such a release! Osteen takes pictures of our backs and shows us.  I look at Yumi’s and barely see light pink rounds where the cups were.  My back has huge red circles on it.  What does this mean?  According to my friend the worldwide web – I have more toxins in my body than Yumi.  Great!

Not as toxic as me!

Immediately after removing cups

The marks from cupping can be anywhere from light pink that disappears quickly, to a dark deep red that can last for a couple weeks.  They look like bruises but shouldn’t be considered as such, there is no impact to cause a bruise and they are not painful or discomforting to touch.  They aren’t the prettiest things and definitely not something I would want to have on my back in the middle of summer.

My back - four days later

By 11:30pm, I was more than ready to get home!  I hadn’t been home since I left for school at 8:15am.  Studying Chinese, shopping Shanghai’s crazy Qipu market, watching out for pick-pocketers, a long massage and having the toxins sucked from my back all were exhausting activities.  But all made for a lovely, exciting and adventurous day in Shanghai with girl friends!


I am interrupting my 3 part series on my Monday adventures for a quick picture and link. (I promise I will write up part 3 of 3 today!)

This is the view from my bedroom window today.  It is a hot, humid and sunny day in Shanghai.  It is about 80 Fahrenheit or 26-27 Celsius.

1pm on a sunny day - yet so dark

Those aren’t rain clouds, they aren’t clouds at all… that is straight up pollution.    I was disgusted to see my ayi opened my bedroom window and shut it immediately when I got home from Chinese class.  I wonder if that sky is the cause for my headache….

And here is a link – some facts regarding the Shanghai air I have talked so much about.

Qipu Monday II

Part II of III: Street Shopping

(Read Part I here: Qipu Monday: Part I)

Not being one to sit still, I quickly became anxious at KFC – let’s go!  I want to do more shopping!  We had only explored one building, I had purchased two shirts – Yumi had yet to find anything to buy and there was more to see!  Forget the cramps in the arches of my feet, let’s do more shopping!  I asked what time the shops closed and my Chinese friends told me they closed around 6pm – but don’t worry, we have time.  Um… it is 5:49pm, how do we have time??  May said, “Even if the stores close there were be plenty for sale out on the street…”  But, I thought, I don’t want the little stores on the street – I want another massive building of shops!  My impatience got us out of KFC at around 5:59pm, we walked down the street to the building adjacent to the one we had explore all afternoon.  We got to the door and there were security officers not letting anyone in.  Well, bugger…

Inside one of the many Qipu buildings

Wait… we are outside, and suddenly racks of clothing are appearing all around us. The shops have literally moved to the streets.  As we start to look at the one or two racks directly in front of the entryway, more and more vendors are appearing, laying down blankets to display fifty different styles of shoes, carrying racks full of clothing on their shoulders to set up on the sidewalk, hooking up light bulbs on wires to their electric scooters to light up their jewelry display as the sun is setting and it will soon be dark.  I hear from one of the Chinese girls that the clothes are the same as inside – but the prices are lower.  It’s true, when the starting price is 30rmb (around $4-$5) there is no need to bargain (and in fact, I learned, it doesn’t get you very far.)

Setting up shop on the street!

This lady set up lighting for her products - using power from her electric bike

The search continues, through racks of clothing, some such low quality they are falling apart at the seams, others with price tags attached – stating their prices in Yen, US dollars or RMB.  The vendors shout out their prices – 30 rmb, 25 rmb, 15 rmb – 2 for 20rmb!! (Yumi finally found some shirts and at a price of 2 for about $3 she didn’t complain!)  Crowds emerge, the street is packed, you can barely walk through some areas and the pick pocketers are out in full force.

Yumi's bargain rack - 2 for 20rmb!

When everything on the rack is 15rmb (less than 3 dollars), why bargain?!?

Purses clutched close to our sides, we work our way through the crowds.  Yumi approaches me and tells me she felt someone grab on to her bag.  Less than a minute later, I see an older woman with her hand in a girl’s purse.  This time I’m standing right there.  I walk up, tap the girl on the shoulder – point to the other woman and say she had her hand in your purse, using motions to illustrate my point expecting a language barrier.  The girl looked astonished and quickly zipped up her purse – the culprit glared at me and walked away.  I remembered her face and her shirt though, and saw her lurking around several more times as I walked and shopped.  Overly alert again, we clutched onto our bags as we moved through crowds of shoppers, yelling vendors, helpless beggars and thieves.

The vendors who carry in large boxes full of shoes on bicycles, mopeds and scooters rarely have a size larger than a 39 I learned, and I wear about a size 40 in China.  However, I managed to find two pairs I could squeeze my giant western feet (only big by Asian standards) into – and got both pairs for a total of less than $10.

With hands full of bags with shoe boxes and clothes, we were tired.  The streets were coming alive – but we had been on our feet for quite some time.  It was time to move on to our evening plans.  We followed a woman pushing a cart full of ladies underwear down the street, past the Styrofoam containers of live fish waiting to be bought and cooked for dinner, through the stinky tofu and fruit kebab vendors to the main road with a bus stop.   Then we grabbed a bus to the massage parlor, all that walking caused our feet to need some attention!

Qipu Monday

Part I of III: Inside the Qipu shops

Lessons from part one:

  • When shopping in China, always bring your camera
  • Even clothing manufacturers need spell check
  • Don’t be afraid to pee in front of strangers
  • Hold on to your purse – TIGHT

A simple, “hey, you want to go shopping Monday afternoon?” can translate into all kinds of adventure in Shanghai.  I hadn’t really done much actually shopping in Shanghai and with the weather changing, my waistline growing and my appreciation/curiosity of Chinese fashion deepening, I wanted to go do some shopping – not just looking.  I talked to my friend (and fellow Portland State MIM alum), Yumi and was easily able to convince her to ditch her husband for the afternoon and join me on a little trip to Qipu.  We had both been to the area before, but were both in a rush and never really had the time to truly appreciate the 6-10 huge buildings filled with 4+ stories of all the cheap goods China has to offer.  Yumi, her husband Adam and some friends had, however, explored the streets of food in the area and blogged about it on their fun blog: Shanghai’d! Life and Love in China.

I asked a co-worker if she wanted to join us for shopping, and she had already planned on going to Qipu with a few friends and co-workers.  Perfect! Yumi and I planned on meeting three Taiwanese/Chinese teachers from my (Kid Castle) school to see what Qipu’s cheap, Chinese fashion had to offer.

Everyone needs a South Park dress - it is SO hip right now.

I had Chinese class from 9:25-12:10 Monday morning, so after class I jumped on the subway and met Yumi at her subway station just two stops away from my university.  We continued on the subway and got to the Qipu area right about 1pm, before any of the others arrived. Hungry, we hit the street for a random selection of food.  I settled with a crepe-type thing filled with red bean paste, some fried dumplings and a pearl milk tea with coconut jelly!  Delicious!

Shortly thereafter, we met up with Amanda (a Chinese co-worker of mine) and starting hitting up one of the many buildings of shops.  The exit for the subway station dropped you off in the basement of this particular building so it seemed like a natural place to start.  The basement level was all shoes, bags, wallets, scarves, jewelry and nail salons- where you could also get a real tattoo (we felt it was a bit of a sketchy place for doing so).  We weren’t in the mood for shoes, bags, or hepatitis tattoos, so we went on up to the main floor.

Each of these floors is hard to describe.  Imagine a building that takes up an entire city block.  Now imagine inside this building rows and rows of small shops. (Some so small more that than one or two people can barely fit in the shop.)  You can get lost on one floor as there are probably several hundred of these little shops and they all look amazingly similar.  A fascinating experience even if you aren’t particularly interested buying anything.  If you do want to buy something, it is a challenge and an experience!

Most clothing items come in one size (which in Asia seems to means extra small) they will only have one of an item on display among crowded racks and on the walls.  If you want something and find a defect (look closely!) like a hole or a snag on the one on the display they may or may not have a “new” one in a plastic bag somewhere hidden in their little shop.  I learned (unlike when buying jeans at the fake market) most places won’t even let you try things on.  Hold it up and think about whether or not it will fit.

So you find something, you think it will actually fit – the seams are holding together relatively well and the quality doesn’t seem so bad.  Sure – let’s buy it!  How much?  Ahh… to bargain in China, a learned talent that takes time, development, practice and patience, I think I could write a whole blog on it.  Let’s just say our general rule of thumb for the afternoon (after I spent too much – almost $8.00 – on a shirt) was to pay at most one third the offered price.

Back to our day, after meeting up with Amanda we walked around the first floor not really having anything grab our eye – expect for a very low quality shirt from a vendor that refused to bargain.  (I decided to pass that one up, luckily.) We were starting to wander around the 2nd floor – also women & men’s Chinese fashion, when my friends/coworkers from Taiwan, May and Osteen showed up.  Once May was there the wandering and occasionally looking turned into a more in-depth search, going into many shops to look at their sometimes outrageous styles.  Some of the best Chinglish around can actually be found on clothing…

I think they want to know if you BELIEVE in DESTINY (not "Do you betleve in desting")

Could we at least make our typos rhyme? "Pugs not Drigs"

Buy this brand - "This is very good brand of a trousers"! (But only in one size...)

From store to store we went looking, laughing, bargaining and occasionally purchasing clothing.  We made it to the third floor at one point to discover it was completely children’s clothing; the 4th floor was set aside for “Korean fashion”, the shops were bigger, a bit nicer, more expensive and not as willing to bargain.  So we headed back to the second floor.  May had been deliberating about a skirt that she had passed up when the woman wouldn’t bring the price down from 25rmb to 20rmb.  We told her if she spent so much time thinking about it, then she should buy it.  It was worth the $3.80 the woman wanted to charge her.

At one point, Yumi and I ran off to find a restroom.  All I can say, is you haven’t travelled together until you have squat peed together – with about 20 other women.  I don’t understand how Chinese woman can squat over a trough in the floor, in the open, with everyone else’s waste flowing by for such a long time while playing with their iphones.  I guess I’m just not that into the culture.  I will squat and get my white butt outta there as quickly as possible!!  (We were thankful & pleasantly surprised by the soap – a rarity at public restrooms).

A different restroom - of similar variety. The one in Qipu had at least 10 stalls without doors on either side of the room.

Bags of clothes: the receiving department?

Around 5pm, (after almost 4 hours of exploring the first building) we were feeling the need for a snack and Amanda wanted to sit down for a bit.  The Asian girls headed to KFC for a seat, while Yumi and I hit the street for some more street food.  Why eat American fast food when there is plenty to eat on the street!  Walking with my trash after devouring more delicious fried dumplings (a different variety), I realized even on a disgusting, crowded, filthy, littered street – my upbringing caused me to search for a garbage can.  The crowded streets in this area are filled with trash – but we couldn’t imagine adding ours to the mix.  Ironically – the trash bin was half empty. We met up with the girls back at KFC to rest our feet, indulge in some ice cream and discuss further plans.  But not without our first pick pocketing experience!

As we were walking towards KFC, a couple of Chinese woman and a younger looking girl were walking towards us.  The girl was walking very close behind the other two and I assumed they were together.  As they walked by I saw the girl was digging in one of the woman’s purses and after a split second still thinking they knew each other I realized she was digging for something to steal.  I grabbed Yumi and pointed them out as they were walking away, “that girl is has her hand in that woman’s purse – she is trying to take her wallet!!”  As they were getting further down the street, we couldn’t do anything about it, but just as Yumi started to question if what we were thinking was really what was happening, the women walked into the building and tugged on her purse – without looking back – causing the young girl to snatch her hand back and walk in the other direction.  We continued on, a bit more alert and holding out bags close as we walked to KFC.

To be continued….

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