For several reasons this post about a day spend shopping in the depth of Hangzhous malls in English. Not the least of which are so that more people can read it and that I am currently listening to the Discworld novels again, giving me a strong urge to express myself in English.
So let us begin with the tale of how I bought stuff in China.
The tale starts, like so many adventures during which I set out to do something with a personal hero. That is to say a person I know who speaks Chinese and out of foolishness, the urge for adventure or simply because they don't know any better, volunteered to help me on my quest. All of them really deserve a memorial, maybe it will come in the form of credits at the end of this series of blog posts. For the shopping trip yesterday my thanks must be to Josephine (yes I can only remember English names....), an English major living in Hangzhou and as such a perfect hero in my terms as her English is excellent ^^
The quest of quite simple, or so one might think. Find a new pair of shorts, some flip-flops, a bag for work, a mug for work and maybe a summer jacket. Complications become apparent once one considers the average size of a Chinese person compared to that of myself. And no matter how often the shop keeper goes into the back and comes back pretending, the same pair of flip-flops just won't get larger than they are.
And so we set out actually with a pretty clear picture in mind as Josephine had found me a bag online that looked cool and as good looking bags tend to be was sold out. Which we learned upon arriving at the store selling it. Luckily however that lead us to a store selling shorts. In which I made the fastest ever acquisition of a pair of shorts in my live. It took about half an hour to be in and out of the shop. Usually buying pants is a matter of hours.
How exhausting shopping with me can be did become apparent though after we stopped by about a half a dozen different stores without finding a bag for me. This might be a good point or at least one as good as any to talk about Chinese malls. They are like polish street markets with a roof, like any street market with a roof really but polish ones happen to be the last I visited so I am rolling with that. Therefore Chinese malls are like polish street markets with a ceiling height of two meters and stretching over multiple floors. The quality of goods sold can the thought of as roughly the same. Though you also find non-fakes here. This description of cause heavily relies upon stereotypes but it nicely conveys the feeling. And as hinted at my personal highlight was a storeowner who brought the same pair of flip-flops three times and every time pretending they were bigger now.
In the end a supermarket brought salvation. Calling it a supermarket really does not do it justice though. It is more like a state owned "Kaufhaus" (sorry English you just don't have a good word for this) stretching over five floors and selling anything from live fish for dinner, food in general and kitchen appliances. Here finally I found myself a nice mug with a motive worthy of any thrift store at the northern see as well as a nice bag.
A day of shopping, exhausting as it is, of cause calls for a nice dinner. And as such we found a very Chinese place to have an amazing dinner and my first opportunity to pay instead of being invited after dragging Josephine around all day. The restaurant really had a nice flair which was only partly obscured by two giant flat screens broadcasting a victorias secret fashion show and playing barby girl or Christina Angilera songs in the background. A nice example of China where everything is a big mash up of everything.