Saturday, September 10, 2005

Hong Qiao Pearl Market

Yesterday I went to Hong Qiao Pearl Market with Donny, Gene, and Gene’s parents. I was there in May, and it was every bit as crazy this time as the last. I need to find some sucker to come with me who will agree to hand me 20 yuan every time a shopkeeper screams to me, “Hey! Hey! Pretty lady! You come here and look. Pretty lady, you want a necklace? An underwear?” At least no one grabbed my arm and pulled me into a store this time.

The market is indoor and has four floors of stuff. The first floor houses mainly electronics and kitschy, Chinese knick-knacks. The second floor is where to find clothing and scarves. The third floor has what seems to be verging on two-hundred stalls full of knock-off bags and shoes. The fourth floor, however, is the main attraction of the place.

Even going to the market for a second time I was just astonished by the huge number of pearls in one place. Hanging on the walls of each stall were about 50 strands of pearls complimenting the showcases of them on countertops. Women on both sides of the walkway were stringing pearls into necklaces and adding the clasps that customers picked. I can’t do the place justice, really. I’m going to have to go back and take photos if the shopkeepers will let me.

I bought a necklace yesterday. I almost bought one like it last time, but as I was running out of money, I told myself that if I still wanted it when I got here for the year, I could get it. I love being able to speak Chinese. Bargaining was a much more streamlined process this time around. I didn’t feel awkward doing it, and I got a decent price. Do you see what practical things I’m learning? It’s going to be strange to not haggle on prices when I get back to the states and see all of the overpriced things that were imported from China.


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