School children in Shanghai arrive early and do an exercise routine outside to begin their day. They line up (in this case this view is from Charles' office window on the second floor looking out at the school tennis courts) and a crazy little tune with a regular beat begins and they run in unison around the courts in an up and down pattern, then they are led in calisthenics. This actually goes on for 45 minutes to an hour before their school work begins. Thinking this would be a great idea to adopt in the good old USA!
After watching the children do their routine, we were off to the subway (very clean, very new, very nice) to have a day of shopping in Shanghai. There are many shopping malls in many different price points in the City and you would be wise again to have a local guide to direct you through this process. There are definitely some great buys, but you must be ready to haggle over the prices. This is expected, and if you just accept the first price offered, you will not experience the joy of getting great bargains. At first it is a bit intimidating for us Americans, but believe me, it won't take you long to get into it! Also, if you have a Chinese negotiator with you, you will get "Chinese Price" instead of tourist prices! As I said, there are high dollar shopping areas and there are bargain areas, but in all cases never forget to negotiate the best prices on your purchases whether it is a child's toy or a custom made suit.
(The coat in this picture above, is one which I chose to have made for myself)
Charles wanted to have me purchase some custom made clothing while I was in Shanghai, and so we headed to a huge indoor market place where there are literally hundreds of vendors all vying for your Yuan (Chinese dollar). I was placed at a table with many books of styles to choose from to make my selections of clothing. Then my individual measurements were carefully taken by a Chinese tailor's assistant.I was then set down at a table piled with more books and fabric samples to choose the fabrics from which my new clothing would be made. This was a little daunting, but great fun. I chose two lovely designer suits and a great looking cashmere/wool blend coat as my custom clothing choices. Charles told me to choose what I wanted, but to let him negotiate the prices for the items, as he deals with this particular tailor all the time.Then the haggling over prices and time frame of delivery began. It was very interesting and really fun to watch as Charles worked with the woman to negotiate the best price and delivery time and gain assurances that all would be perfect with the new clothing. I was amazed to find out later that these two gorgeous suits and the coat were to be mine for a price of only $176 US dollars! OMG, I couldn't have bought one of the pieces for that!
Many items are already on display so that you can see the quality of the workmanship of the shop tailors.
After completing our transaction at the tailors stall, we explored many more little stalls within the shopping "Mall." There were suitcases (I bought a large Samsonite one which would sell for over a $100 here, for $35), and silk scarves (bought some of those for my Sisters-in-Law in Pittsburgh), toys (yep, bought some of those too!)...as you can see, I needed the suitcase for all my purchases! What fun! Charles did the negotiating, and we got some absolutely terrific deals! Melanie, Charles, Jon, Zev (a friend of Charles) and I had a wonderful time traipsing around the area shopping and haggling. I find Charles enjoys this haggling process! He has had a good Chinese teacher in Jolin (his Chinese assistant in Shanghai) and Lilac (another Chinese assistant from another town), and is really quite good at passing the calculator back and forth and negotiating prices!
I love these tree lined streets and all the small shops and restaurants which line them also, but there are also quite modern shopping areas in Shanghai, and so we were off to another area. ( I am also told there are Wal Marts in Shanghai, although we did not visit one!).
We had no problem digging into the lovely broth and adding the thinly sliced meat, vegetables and spices to customize our own "noodle bowls" and warm our bodies to arm us for yet more shopping!
A bit more shopping and exploring in the more expensive area and we were off again to another large indoor mall. It didn't take long for one of us to need a "potty" break, and so we experienced for the first time the Chinese "squatty potty!" Oh my, this will take a bit of getting used to! Balancing over a bowl with nothing to sit on is actually quite difficult. But, it is what most of the Chinese are accustomed to, and we adapted as best we could. Many of the newer restaurants and stores do have Western style toilets, so don't fret (just don't wait too long to look for one).
Well, this will be all for now, but I do have a lot of other adventures to share, and will do so tomorrow!
GOD BLESS, Peace, Love and Joy!