Monday, December 16, 2013

Have a Nice Shopping

China has supermarkets.  They even have Wal Marts, although they are a Chinese version and their cheap Chinese crap is domestic rather than imported.   I don't my really like Wal Mart. Besides being an odious corporation owned by a soulless, blood sucking, parasitic family, it's a crappy place to shop, both home and abroad.  There is one a mere 10 minute walk from our flat, but has very little that I can't get elsewhere, and it's actually a lot more expensive than other stores.
The other supermarkets vary in quality, service and price.  They have meat departments, produce and Chinese groceries.  You can generally get peanut butter, mayonnaise, and jam, but very few dairy products other than yogurt.  Cheese and butter require extra effort.  Although I used to shop for everything at supermarkets, these days I only get stuff like beer, rice, dry noodles, powdered milk and such from them.   I generally go to a grocery chain called "Chain Mart".  (motto: "Have a nice shopping!")   I think it's called Chain Mart because it is a chain of supermarkets and not because of the symbolic shackles its employees endure.
Chinese people can be very annoying in a supermarket.  For one thing, there are a lot of them, so it's always crowded.  They operate a shopping cart about as well as they drive a car.  They cut in front of you, and manage to block aisles and produce bins with little effort.  They jostle each other at the produce racks and cut in line.  My favorite is the person who gets off an escalator (these are big supermarkets)  and immediately stops, resulting in a consumer pileup behind them.   All supermarkets (other than Wal Mart, which is always understaffed) have a surplus of workers in every aisle who try to get you to buy whatever the management wants to buy, generally more expensive items.  "Welly good!" they beam as they shove the product in your face.
I get my produce, tofu, nuts, meat, seafood, and other fresh stuff at what a Chinese friend calls "the dirty market".  "Dirty markets" are the large barn like places with mostly women in numerous stations hawking all manner of fresh goods.  It's a far superior shopping experience.  Everything is very fresh, mostly local.  The prices are much lower.  And what I like best of all is the interaction with the same ladies each time I come in.  These are tough women who work long hours and don't take crap from anyone.  Since I'm the only foreigner who ever comes into this place, I'm well known and enjoy the extra attention.  I have my usual favorite women I buy from.  I have someone I get eggs from, tofu lady, garlic and ginger woman, the dumpling sisters who make their wontons and dumplings on the spot and have great homemade noodles, the mushroom family, the dry goods girls, and numerous veggie ladies.  Even though it's crowded there too, there is more room to maneuver.  And of course, it's real China, with commerce being conducted like it has been for the past few thousand years.

 Duck, chicken, pigeon and 1,000 year eggs.
 Nuts and stuff
 All kinds of mushrooms

Today's catch
Dumpling Sisters
Pork belly is a favorite.
I get around sometimes on the back of a lady friend's electric motor bike.  We sometimes go shopping together, and it adds to the adventure since she has the same style of motoring as the clowns with the motorbike taxi services.  You get another interesting perspective into the Chinese psyche as you watch people pull out in front of you, or step off the curb into heavy traffic without looking.  I think a good 10% of the population does this.  The general consensus is that many are hoping to get hit in order to collect a settlement.  I think they mostly are just space cadets and are fortunate that most people are driving slowly enough to avoid hitting them.  Perhaps they are civic minded folks who are just doing their bit to help keep the population under control.  No matter, it's all part of the fun of living here.