Monday, January 23, 2006

Shanghai: Day 3

Today we got our train tickets mostly taken care of. We don't have the tickets in hand, though we've already paid for them. We're supposed to pick them up on the 25th. I'm being optimistic and hoping that everything goes as planned. It's important for all of this train stuff to work out so I make it back to Beijing in time for my flight on the 8th.

Also today, we headed to a large market called Xiang Yang Chang (I think. I'll double-check tomorrow.). Just when I was beginning to think that vendors in Shanghai were calmer than those in Beijing, we were assaulted by people with booklets screaming, "DVD! CD! Purse? Bag?" They had the booklets because if you wanted their wares, they had to lead you to a back alley-ish kind of place to surreptitiously sell the items to you. Pirated things are illegal, and while that's never discouraged vendors in Beijing, people apparently have to be more careful and quiet about selling them in Shanghai.

I did some bargaining today with relative success. Donny was checking out a jacket with Gene and his parents, and during that I went to the next stall over to look at necklaces. I've wanted to get a jade circle on a red cord to wear under my shirt for quite a while, so I checked the price of some that I saw. The vendor told me it was 180 RMB, and I started cracking up and walking away. I won't go into the detail of the theatrics of bargaining again, but the end result was that I got the thing for 20 RMB. This conversation followed:

Man: Aiya! Ni zheme lihai a! Ni zenme rang wo gei ni zheme pianyi de? (Man! You're so skilled/cruel/strong! How did you make me give you this so cheap?)
Me: Wo shi cong Beijing lai de. (I'm from Beijing.)
Man: A, zheme lihai. Zheme lihai!

Gene's dad saw the necklace after I bought it and asked how things went in bargaining. After I told him the asking price and the final price, he said, "Wow, no wonder people say you bargain better than a Chinese." Hehe. I don't know about that, but things went well with Donny's coat, too. I always do better when I'm helping someone else with bargaining because I care more.

The woman he was dealing with kept showing me the tag that said the coat was supposed to be 828 RMB. I kept replying that there was no way that it was worth that much, and that it didn't even look that warm. Donny said she'd gone down to 200 RMB, and that that price seemed okay. I said it should be 150 RMB. Gene's mom started laughing to herself. The vendor started yelling at me and punched me in the chest. After more arguing, we started walking away because she wouldn't budge. Everyone got away but me. This woman put a death grip on my wrist and nearly pulled my arm out of its socket. We argued a bit more and settled on 170 RMB. That seemed more reasonable to me.

Bargaining is pretty fun if you're up for it.

And as a final note: I don't know about the water here. I boiled it, and it tastes like mushrooms. I'm still drinking it, but that's an awfully strange taste. I wonder what chemicals are in the water around here.


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