When I first told people that I was going to China, they all raved that I would be able to find such “great deals” while shopping. Let me be the first to tell you, you can find “great” deals, but you have to work for them! If you head to the markets or most of the shops here in China, you have to negotiate for literally everything you want. It is certainly an interesting process because often times the negotiations are done via a calculator because the two parties do not speak the same language!
Shopping offers you ways to expand your wardrobe, buy gifts, and ultimately sharpen your interpersonal skills. While shopping, you have to find a way to contain your excitement about your new find, convince the person that there is no way that you will pay what they ask for, and most importantly be willing to walk away and head to the next store. As a prime example, I needed to buy a new piece of luggage for the trip back home. I found a bag that I liked and asked the storeowner for the price. She quoted me a price of $1,350 RMB ($220 USD)! After showing some shock at the pricing and telling her that I was a student the price immediately dropped to $950 RMB ($155 USD). I still expressed dismay at the pricing and then she handed me the calculator to show her the price that I was willing to pay for the bag. I punched in $70 RMB ($11 USD) and she appeared to be quite offended and asked me if I had a fever! Long story cut short, after walking away to talk to the next store over, and looking at the same bag and doing some negotiating with her, the original storeowner was begging me to come back over. We finally settled on a price for the bag of $130 RMB ($21 USD) and I got her to throw in a free lock!
Shopping can be a lot of fun, but you have to be willing to be patient and remember TINA. The storeowners will try to grab your arms to keep you from leaving, they will pretend that your offer is completely insane and that they will never sell the goods to you for that price; however, if you stick to your guns, you will win the battle nine out of ten times.
As we head into the final week, we don’t have many formal activities scheduled, but we do have a group karaoke night planned and a final banquet dinner. It should be a great week and then on Saturday most of us head back to the States, while some of the group members will continue on to the Rome program and others have plans to continue traveling after leaving Beijing. More to come. . .