Saturday, 10 November 2012

Shanghai Day 5 - Amateur haggling

Its been a busy few days work wise - still suffering from jet lag while in the office means that I'm in cloud cuckoo land for the first half of the day, but perk up in the afternoon.  I finally thought I was over it last night, but then woke at 4:50am promptly ready for the day!  Maybe tomorrow then.

We were taken to dinner by the Chinese Program Manager last night for traditional 'Shanghai-ese' food.  This mostly involved fresh water shellfish and tofu.  I've come to the conclusion that the smell of fried tofu sits on a similar smell-pedestal as baby poo and vomit in the stomach churning stakes - not good in a country like China.  The food on everyone else's table looked delicious - why did we get the smelly root stew and shellfish fungus goop??  I ate the food, but I'm hoping my local Chinese in Taunton doesn't start offering Shanghai delicacies as a dish - house special chow mien and sweet and sour pork balls will do just fine next time thank you.  I'm paying for it this evening now as well, thank god I decided to get some Imodium in case of emergency...

I'm not lyin, I'm a tiger Rarrrh!
Today was a big day as well, went sight seeing in the morning to the Yuyuan Gradens.  I was out of the Hotel early so I got to the Gardens not long after they opened - as a result, my first hour of wandering was tranquil and quiet.

Amazing that a place like that can exist in such a breakneck-paced city as Shanghai.  Its a series of walled areas with buildings, pagodas and various tree species. There are ponds full of Koi (well, giant goldfish anyway) and many rockeries built of water smoothed stone.  I went a bit snap-happy with the camera, but hopefully it was worth it.
One of the many sculptures on the roof of a pagoda
Many of the buildings are set amongst the ponds 

Notice the water-eroded/smoothed rock - the gardens are primarily composed of these rocks
After the gardens, I took a wander around the 'market' that surrounds the gardens.  Traditional-looking Chinese buildings housing all sorts of tourist shops, plus the ubiquitous American imports of KFC, McDonalds and Starbucks.  I did my first piece of haggling (practice for later in the day) and picked up a mini sceen thingy with Chinese decoration.   Probably got completely ripped off, but there you go!

One of the buildibgs in the market - probably only 20 years old!
By midday, the market so so busy I escaped back onto the subway to go to a large photography mall I'd read about online.  I was after a new lens for my DSLR, but found that the prices were similar to or even more expensive than the UK.  I did manage to pick up a memory card and some UV lens filters for a similar price as ebay - why buy on ebay when you can spend £4k on flights and buy them in the shop eh?!?

After a snickers (tasted of Hershey chocolate not Mars chocolate, felt duped by Masterfoods) to gird my loins, I made my way to the Science and Technology subway station and the (in)famous A.P.Plaza Shopping Mall.  This is a fake market - don't be under any illusion that anything in the market is the real deal apart from the bespoke suit fitting (which I didn't go for anyway).  So if you after any of the following, this place can provide a facsimile of it:
  • Handbags (Jimmy Choo, D&G and Mulberry seemed to the most popular)
  • Belts & wallets (stamped with all sorts of designer logos)
  • Sunglasses (Rayban and Oakley mainly)
  • Watches (Ice and G-Shocks were the main ones I saw)
  • T-shirts (Abercrombie, Diesel etc)
  • Jeans (All sorts, but due to my small waist/huge arse disfigurement I didn't bother)
  • Shoes (Mainly Converse and Uggs, but a lot of leather shoes as well)
  • Bags (Rucksacs and suitcases)
  • iPhone/iPad accessories
  • Helicopters (bloody everywhere)
  • Tourist Tat (Chopsticks, buddas, dodgy jade, tea sets, masks, abacuses and little jewellery boxes)
Hels had packed me off to China with some very specific instructions about a particularly nice handbag I was to look for and I found it straight away, so then it was onto the process of haggling.  I managed to get the bag for less than 30% of the original asking price, which wasn't bad (probably still got ripped-off, but never mind, the bag was £680 less than its original...).  I wasn't quite so successful with my tourist tat as the girlie was particularly polite, friendly and pretty (bloody sucker), so I forgot to haggle as hard, but still got a bit off nonetheless. 

There were more westerners than locals and shop owners were forever trying to drag you into their shops.  In the end I just switched off and wandered around until something took my eye.  There are only so many times you can asked if you want bag, t-shirt or shoes before you want to just start shouting fuck-off and die at the top of your voice, so I decided that was enough and came back to the hotel.

Five subway journeys in all today amounted to a grade total of £2 with all journeys 30 or 40p, not bad for a days work!  More sightseeing and tourist stuff tomorrow - hopefully will get to go up to the highest observation deck in the world (complete with glass floor!) if the low cloud has improved.  Will post some pictures if I can get up there!

No comments:

Post a Comment