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Phew, had a bit of stress yesterday and today, not being able to reach the website (in case you didn’t know – the Gods of Firewall don’t like WordPress and Blogspot. Youtube and Facebook either. Luckily they seem to have been appeased for the time being). But all is well in the Middle Kingdom again, so let us proceed.

Shopping.

Whoever told you that China was THE place for getting bargains was a big fat ugly liar (apologies to all big fat ugly people out there. And to liars, for that matter).

The prices are more or less exactly the same as back home. A livable room: minimum 1000 RMB. A pair of good shoes: starting from 150. A meal in a restaurant: 30, 40, 50, 100? A beer in a pub: occasionally 10, usually 20 to 25. A cup of coffee: getting a decent one for 15 is a reason to rejoice.

Major disappointment. What happened to the ‘Me be foreigner, me be rich in China with my foreign money’ premise?

Fortunately there are some saving graces. Like really cheap public transport and fairly cheap cabs. If you need to eat on a budget, there’s always street food or small eateries. A portions of dumplings or noodles for 5-10 RMB? Bring them on! Every day! 3 times a day (now you know what I live on)! It’s actually much cheaper than buying groceries and cooking at home – which goes to explain the lack of kitchens in so many flats.

When it comes to clothing and footwear – yes, you can buy it for 30 RMB, but you’ll need new one in 2 months and in the meantime you’ll look like a besequined queen of a Gypsy wedding. Boys have it easier: they just need a tee and a pair of jeans. How wrong can you go with it? For girls – oh, it’s a dark road full of black pits. With sequins lurking to get you at every step.

 Seems like China has caught up with the rest of the world shopping-wise: you get what you pay for. And since I’m currently on a lookout for an all-purpose coat, scarf and winter shoes (the items that didn’t fit in my backpack), I guess I’ll just have to accept it. Rule of thumb: if I’d be willing to pay that much for it in Poland, it goes (I tend to get attached to my clothes and wear them for years till there’s barely a whole thread in them and my Mum feels like she has to nick them and chuck them out – YES, Mum, I haven’t forgotten! Why do you think I moved out?! – so I can go with something a bit more pricey if it’s nice and good quality).

One more thing. In the West you usually have women’s clothing on the first floor, then men’s, then children’s – or a mix of these. It’s a selling tactics. Women buy more clothes, so let’s bring the clothes closer to them, make it more convenient to spend, spend, spend those monies. And it’s the same here: a guy will buy 3 T-shirts with Linking Park on them (they missed the window on Nirvana and Metallica), whereas a woman will buy a dress, a blouse, a jacket and a bag to go with it. And what’s this? Ooh, new hairpins with flowers and rainbows on them? Into the basket with them! So why is it that in so many shops you have men’s wear on the bottom floor and you have to go upstairs to get to the women’s section? I mean, these guys know how to sell stuff and they’ll try every gimmick to draw customers, so why don’t they use this one? Just wondering…

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