Tag Archives: shopping

Sandakan Market

The last day in Borneo was fairly uneventful, we woke up early to have breakfast and take the two and a half hour boat ride back to Sim Sim water-town and Sandakan.

Before catching our flight out of the Sandakan Airport, we had time to explore the central market and have lunch.

We had stopped by the market on Monday, but it was late in the afternoon and it appeared everyone was pretty much done for the day.

Monday - notice the woman is sleeping Chicken Feet

Monday – notice the woman is sleeping.
Chicken Feet

On Thursday morning around 10am the market was hopping. We walked around and saw all the fresh seafood (some still living), the fruits and veggies, raw meats and eggs, dried goods,  clothing shoes, bags, and about everything you could imagine.

Kids playing next to fresh veggies

Kids playing next to fresh veggies

The market building is only a few years old we were told, previously the entire market had been held outdoors.

While not air-conditioned, and obviously open air – I can imagine not sitting in the direct sunlight and having fans circulating air makes a big difference.

No one likes freshly sunned chickens

No one likes freshly sunned chickens

Our guide also mentioned, that now it is much better for the produce as before the market was not divided into sections and having fresh fish next to fresh produce does not make for the best produce!

I’ll let the pictures talk – if only I could have captured the smell for you!

IMG_0130

Big fish

Little fish

Little fish

Colorful fish

Red Fish, Blue Fish!

A lobster

A lobster

Shellfish

Shellfish

Sharks with fins cut off

Sharks with fins cut off

Chopping up fresh fish

Chopping up fresh fish

Click here for the video of this guy working!

The view from the market of fishermen coming in for the day

The view from the market of fishermen coming in for the day

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Thoughts upon returning…

Have I really been back in the States for over 3 weeks?  My how time flies.  Culture shock is to be expected when you leave your homeland and travel abroad; yet, culture shock also works in reverse. After spending a significant amount of time in a culture different than your own, you return and are shocked at how strange things seem; things that are oh-so-familiar just seem odd.

Here are a few of the thoughts that have crossed my mind in the last weeks of being home.

Wow.  There are SO MANY white people here!  And the words ‘so many’ are relative to other ethnicities because really there is hardly anyone here.

It is empty… the airports are empty, the streets are empty, the stores are empty.

Portland is SO quiet, peaceful, clean! The air smells so good! I’m so overwhelmed!

Shhh… you hear that?  NOTHING, oh wait, there is a bird… silence is amazing.

Everyone is so friendly!

There are so many conversations to eavesdrop on… Everyone is speaking English!  I can understand it all!

Where are all the Chinese characters?

Portland (which until 2011 was the biggest city I had ever lived in) is so SMALL & cute!  Look at those quaint little buildings downtown that think they are skyscrapers… how adorable.

Clouds are so cool.  I could spend hours staring at the clouds.  They are all different types, shapes, sizes, colors… they are magnificent and beautiful.  Some bring rain, some don’t… Some are wispy, white and whimsically float through the air.  Some are big, billowing, beastly and loom over the valleys.  In China, it was often cloudy… or just smoggy, but I realized I never really saw the clouds.  In Shanghai, you get one type of cloud – the monotone, all encompassing, sheet of gray – with a hint of brown.  There is no variation, no beauty, no personality in the clouds.  But here… oh, clouds are mind bogglingly fascinating.

Can’t I just swipe my Shanghai subway card? (When looking for cash to pay for a public bus ride in Portland. Fact, a ride on the bus in Portland is about the same as the starting fare for a taxi in Shanghai.)

The freedom to drive and the open road – LOVE IT!

Wow, us Americans spend a LOT of time in the car.

People are fat.

Does everyone in America always wear that much make-up?

Holy crap this place is expensive! (When I find myself converting everything back to RMB in my mind.)

Seeing Asian babies and children makes me happy… like, an “I feel at home” sort of happy.

Was I really in China for over a year?  Was that just a dream?

I hate small talk.  Small talk after returning from Asia sucks.

“Oh wow, you were in CHINA?  For HOW LONG?”

“Yup, 14 months.”

“Wow! How was CHINA?”

Seriously?  How does one respond to that?  We have 30 seconds for small talk and you want to know how China was?  Here’s an idea… read my 96 blog posts.  Then ask me a better question.

Bubble tea in Portland sucks.  I want to go back.

You say “Chinese food” but I don’t think you mean Chinese food… at every Chinese restaurant I go by… I know they are only there to disappoint me, so I don’t bother going in.

You are 3-D? (My response to seeing my boyfriend after 4 months of video-chatting online and not seeing each other in person.)

I’m BORED… Unemployment is no fun.

I watched more TV in 3 days than I did in the past year.

Grocery stores – AWESOME.  They are huge, they have so-so-sooo much selection.  They are neat, they are organized, they have so many familiar things.  It is sort of like heaven… but a grocery store.

Smile, say thank you.  Cashiers at grocery stores and other places here don’t just glare at you or completely ignore you, so you can be nice back.

What?  My ID?  Why do you want to see my ID?  Oh yea… we control who buys alcoholic beverages in this country.

Public restrooms – they have toilet paper, they have soap, many have paper towels, they don’t smell all that bad… and I even dare to sit on the seat occasionally.  Seriously, a girl could get used to this!

AHHH, I’m gonna die!  Oh wait, people STOP for pedestrians here.  Random… I mean, I know I do have the right of way, but you actually stopped for me?!?

Don’t run into people, don’t run into people… I know they are in your way, but you are in America, you need to be nice.  You can’t just bump people out of your way here.  Be polite, Julia.

Darnit… we have to tip.  The no tipping custom in China is an easy one to get used to.

Yes, I’m home.  Home in a place that sometimes seems so foreign, but only because something truly foreign became such a home.  It’s definitely an adventure, whether you are coming or going.


The Avocado Lady

I was out at dinner the other night at a little natural/healthy food restaurant in Tianzifang when I mentioned how much I missed avocados.  The restaurant (Origin) did have avocados on the menu and I actually ordered some to go on my delicious sandwich. When I mentioned missing them someone at the table said, “You need to go see the avocado lady!”

The avocado lady?  Oh yea, I think I had read something about her before. The 6 of us at the table then starting discussing the avocado lady, where she was located and what she sold.  Apparently, she has just about everything.  At 274 Wulumuqi Lu, it looks like your typical Chinese produce store, I was told, but it is packed with foreigners. When you go inside you realize the avocado lady is famous for much more than just her avocados.

Famous?  Really, Julia?  Can a little Chinese woman really be famous because she sells avocados in Shanghai?  Don’t believe me, do what I did and Google “Shanghai avocado lady” and see what comes up.  She indeed is famous.

So late this morning I headed over, I noticed the dark clouds in the sky but I was already out – it was only one subway stop out of my way and I really wanted to see what the avocado lady had to offer.  It was starting to rain as I walked a couple blocks from the subway (Changshu Lu) to her store, when I got there all the legends came true. Despite the rain, many foreigners were visiting her.  She had the best selection of produce I think I have ever seen in China and just about anything else a little foreign heart could desire.

Camera phone shot - I turned on my camera and realized the memory card was in my laptop. The Avocado Lady!

Once I was there, the downpour started.  I quickly decided on a few things to buy, I didn’t have much money on me and had to carry everything home.  But I was without an umbrella and it was POURING.  I hoped it would quickly blow over and the avocado lady was happy to let me hang out for awhile. Several foreigners came in and out while I was there.  One was ecstatic to learn there were dried lentils for sale. Another had moved to town 3 days earlier and already was a regular customer.

What does the avocado lady have, beside avocados and produce?  Well, I got some Campbells tomato soup, Ocean Spray cranberry juice, avocados, mangoes, and edamame.  She had olives, tuna in a can, olive oil, truffle oil, artichoke hearts, almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, fresh basil and rosemary, cheese, Philadelphia cream cheese, kidney beans, soy milk, Tabasco sauce, REAL maple syrup, cereal, imported wine…. just to name a few things.

Lots of goodies!

The girl who had just moved to town said the lady even pulled Vegemite out of a back corner for her once. Not only does the avocado lady have it all, she speaks English and sells everything at a decent price – unlike the high end grocery stores in Shanghai cholk full of imported items. Above all, she is friendly!  After about 20 minutes of me waiting out the pouring rain, she handed me an umbrella and insisted I took it, saying in English, “I trust you.”

The avocado lady is a smart one too, not only does she know what us laowai want – but she knows we will keep coming back.  I will definitely be back to visit her, buy some treats and bring back her umbrella.

I was very thankful for that umbrella, as when I got off the subway by my apartment it was raining ever harder.  It helped keep me dry, at least from the waist up, as I walked down the creek street to my apartment.  Second storm in two days… and I have a feeling it will get worse:

Super typhoon to hit Shanghai.


Grocery Stores

When I first got to Shanghai walking into a grocery store overwhelmed me, the sights, the disorganization, the endless Chinese characters and odd food items none of which made sense to me. In the past few months, though, I have grown accustom to the Chinese CenturyMart less than a block from my apartment where I can get just about everything I need.  I eat out most of the time anyways.  Occasionally, I go to a different grocery store in my general area if I am looking for a slightly different variety or if I just happen to stumble upon one and want to pick something up.

My need for coffee, however, brings me away from the normal Chinese grocery stores as the coffee they sell is  A) instant crap full of sugar B) instant crap that tastes like crap or C)very, very, rarely something ground that was probably roasted 10 years ago.  Did I mention I’m a bit of a snob for my coffee?  I had just finished the somewhat decent (and very cheap) bag of ground coffee I had picked up on my last trip to Ikea and needed to restock.

There is a grocery store near Jingan Temple (in the basement connected to the Jingan Temple subway stop actually) that I stumbled upon one day that has a wide selection of imported and specialty foods. A lot of Japanese items, more importantly, a selection of whole coffee beans, and a grinder so you can have them ground there. (You have to pay for it and bring it back into the store with the receipt before they will grind it for you.) The store isn’t as expensive as some other shops, and I had been pleased with coffee I bought there previously, so I decided to head that way to get some coffee.

Once I was in that part of town, I went to run another errand and it put me right outside a City Shop. City Shop is a grocery store filled with all sorts of American and other imported goods that you can’t find elsewhere in the city but they are expensive. The store is small, probably at most an eighth the size of your typical American grocery store, but there is good stuff!  I decided to run into City Shop to look. Yes, it is true; City Shop is like a tourist attraction for me.  I go and wander around, normally not buying anything, instead just gawking at the American foods, the selection and the prices!

Cheeses!  Decent looking meat! Recognizable brands of wine (for about 4-5X what you would pay in the States)! An entire AISLE of cereal (for $10-$15 a box)!  It was almost lunch time and the deli sandwiches caught my eye, I decided to splurge and bought a turkey sandwich, a block of sharp cheddar cheese (Land O’Lakes has nothing on Tillamook), and some dark chocolate (every girl needs a secret stash).

As I was waiting to check out, I noticed the lady in front of me.  She bought one plastic bag worth of groceries and a pack of toilet paper for 891 RMB. I started to think of how outrageous this was, as I normally go to the grocery store and get the same quantity of items for under 100rmb. Maybe she had something extravagant in that plastic bag, but I highly doubt it having seen the prices in the store.  On the top of the bag sat a bag of Tostitos Scoops tortilla chips. I began to scoff at the thought of expats who fill their cupboards with imported goods, have their ayis cook western meals for them, and only eat at western restaurants where everything is recognizable and familiar.

Granted, I was there myself, checking out with my block of cheese, lunch for the day, and sucking down my Starbucks Americano I had bought next door.  Yet, it still baffles me how often you see people in Shanghai living as if they were still in their home countries with all the luxuries affordable to them because of their high expat salaries and their “hardship” pay for having to live in a third world country.  I know people like this, I am friends with people like this and occasionally I like to soak up some of the imported and/or high-end luxuries available to us in Shanghai.  But I feel there is a difference between occasional luxuries and ignoring or refusing to participate in the culture and way of life in the country you reside in. Anyways, that is just my little rant about foreigners (like me) in Shanghai.

I had my coffee from one shop, my lunch from City Shop and I headed home.  I still had another errand to run and after eating my lunch, I headed way out to the middle of Pudong (the other side of the Huangpu River) to run my errand.  I was walking through Pudong, thinking about how it felt like a different country with its big roads, endless views of massive urban sprawl (without the tall building of “downtown” Shanghai), everything was so spread out and far apart.  While I was there, I ran into a Carrefour, a big French supermarket that has done well in China, now I have been to a couple Carrefours before on my side of town, but this Carrefour took up most of a huge city block!  This place looked massive!  Wanting again to see the selection available, I wandered inside.  I went inside and was greeted by a store which reminded me of an American Wal-Mart or Fred Meyer – it was huge!  They must have EVERYTHING here!

As I slowly walked around the store, picking my jaw up off the ground, I realized that going back to the states might be a bit of a culture shock for me.  The grocery stores in Oregon might present me with the same overwhelming feeling that the small crowded grocery store in Shanghai presented me with.  Not because of an unfamiliar language, but the size and the availability and variety of items.

I didn’t get anything or spend too much time Carrefour, I still had to trek back across town and despite the fact that they had so much to offer, an imported items section that was massive, and much greater variety (at prices far below those at CityShop), I realized there wasn’t really anything I needed.  I live quite well off the basics available to me at my neighborhood CenturyMart.

Oh… speaking of food, I had my first taste of bullfrog last week.  And people are right – it tastes just like chicken!


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

Chinchillas

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.


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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