Made in China

I remember once in Ottawa trying to give a hockey puck to a visiting Italian friend as a gift from Canada. Every puck I found was made in Slovakia (89 cents each). Finally I found one made in Canada for $5. It is not easy finding a Canadian souvenir actually made in Canada.

We brought Canada Flag lapel pins as gifts for our new friends here in China, all made in China. We finally found some art work made and printed in Canada and of course maple syrup to bring as gifts during our stay here.

The best thing about visiting China is bringing home gifts. Everything is made in China! Everything is super cheap!!  It can all be found under one roof!!!

The wonderful Mr. Pu took us to the souvenir supermarket yesterday. Seven floors of souvenir stalls and junk items. It was like a Dolarama on steroids. My best find was a little plastic cow key-chain that moo’s and has a little LED light when you push the tiny button. My favourite find was a watch with a wooden strap and mounting.



Guangzhou Super Shoe Market

Today in Guangzhou it was 30C

Is it any wonder that the country that floods the world with mass produced items would have mass markets? Every time I see one of these markets I am baffled. Thousands upon thousands of items of the same type on sale at the same place by hundreds of different retailers. Our latest discovery, the Shoe Super City. Blocks upon blocks of shoe stores divided into sections of ladies shoes, sports shoes, children’s shoes etc. If you can’t find your shoe here, it is because you haven’t looked long or far enough.

The passageway through a section of the shoe market.

Ladies sitting outside their stores waiting for customers.

A common site in China. Napping on the job.

Mekong River Market

The best trip we did so far in Vietnam was a boat ride down the Mekong River. On this trip we stopped off to visit a market place. Our guide warned us not to eat the food, although I doubt anyone would have been game enough to try it. During the trip one of our friends had a rat run over her foot and on the way back to port she had a fish jump out of the river onto her lap. Some people have all the luck.

Our boat at dock near the market.

One passage way in the market.

A traditional Vietnamese hat. Women could use this hat to shade them from the sun when working, protect them from the rain, collect fruit and nuts, and shield their face from unwanted looks from men.

Meat for dinner.

Fish for dinner or maybe some chicken legs to go with them.

Some household items including fishing spears.

Some fruits and vegetables. The fruits here are really tasty.

Some baby chicks or ducks as pets and then supper when they lose their cuteness. I am sure they are tasty too.

Hand made brooms from palm leaves. Course broom for street cleaning and fine broom for indoors.

Super Fish Market part 1

Today in Guangzhou it was 23°C and cloudy

The fish market in Guangzhou is an absolute must see. It is the size of a couple of city blocks. We walked for close to 2 hours and did not see it all.There was everything anyone could ever want for an aquarium. If they don’t have it, it doesn’t exist. The access ways are actual streets, with motorbikes driving by delivering fish. Everywhere you look, there are fish in aquariums, fish in plastic tubs, fish in plastic bags. A paradise for any fish enthusiast.

All Dressed Please

Today in Guangzhou it was 26°C and sunny

This weekend I had my eyes tested and bought 2 pairs of glasses. We had our 2 young friends help us. Kitty came in the exam room with me and worked as the translator. After at least an hour working as my translator she thanked me profusely for giving her the opportunity to practice her English. Apparently the few new words she learned were well worth the time spent helping me. This girl is going places. (She is on the left in the photo above, Emily is on the right).

As compensation, we took Kitty and Emily to Pizza Hut for supper. They are in residence and eat the same crappy Chinese food all the time. I figured a large pizza would be a great treat.

Emily ordered a mushroom rice dish and Kitty a curried rice dish. The DWG had a hawaiian pizza all to himself. I offered the leftovers to the girls and they wouldn’t even take them. Maybe next time I will ask my friends where they want to eat before taking them out for a treat.



Stop Bugging Me

Today in Guangzhou it was 27°C and sunny

It seems we have a bug infestation. What to do? In Canada I might go to Canadian Tire, but the service sucks big time. You can never get service and when you do, they don’t know squat and don’t care. I always leave infuriated and swear to never go back.

Here, I went to my favourite department store, Vangard. The service is excellent. It seems each aisle has a service rep and they really want to help. Maybe they can’t speak English, but they never give up trying to help us.

The problem we have found with the Chinese is that they can’t do charades. They look at you dumbfounded and continue speaking to you in Chinese like you will suddenly learn it by osmosis. Even pointing at an object and holding up 2 fingers, they don’t get that you want 2 of them.

Leibling tried miming everything. Pretending to hold a can and spraying while making “psst” noises. Moving her hand like a flying bug and pinching her arm. By the time she was flapping her arms and buzzing around the aisle we had not 1, not 2, not 3 but 8 service reps trying to help us. No one was quite sure what we wanted.

Desperate times require desperate measures. I lifted my pants leg and rolled down my sock. There was a collective gasp, half the people taking a few steps back while the others covered their mouths and bulged out their eyes.I just knew then that we had gotten through to them.

A service rep tried to drag Leibling to the pharmacy for ointment…..

We broke down and called our friend Lucia, a 30 yo student, mother and Phd student that speaks fantastic French. She told the people what we wanted and we came home with bug spray.

Although maybe it is Lion spray because after using it, we still have bugs, but our apartment is Lion free.


Moving In

Today in Guangzhou it was overcast and 30C.

What do you do when you have to furnish an entire apartment and you don’t want to spend any money? What do you do when you have to leave all the junk behind in 11 months? What do you do when you only want the bare minimum functional furnishings?

You go to IKEA.

IKEA is in China and it is no different from the Canadian IKEA. The best part is that some salespeople can speak English and all the items have a minimal English description.

Our apartment came with beds, mattresses, kitchen appliances, dining table and chairs. We had to buy everything else. We managed it at IKEA by spending only $2,400 yuan ($425 CAD).

Surprisingly, all the apartments we looked at had King size mattresses in the master bedroom. Worst of all, the mattress is hard as rock. Why even bother with a mattress when the floor is just as comfortable?

We splurged by spending an extra $1,000y ($150 CAD) on a 2-inch thick mattress to put over our existing King Size mattress (the apartments are small, the bedrooms are small, the people are small and then they put in a humongous bed). The sales person said the mattress was compressed (I know better now) and could be carried home on the Subway. It has been a luxury well worth the price. We thank IKEA in our prayers every night before we go to bed.

DWG (dumb white guy) sneaking the mattress onto the subway

I love my new friend more than you can ever imagine.