I have spent the last few days hosting a friend who is currently living in a nearby South East Asian country. She came to Shanghai to find and procure merchandise to resell for her business in South Africa. I took some time off work to assist with navigation, language assistance, bargaining, portering, amongst a variety of other functions.
Here are some of the highlights from our few days – Look out for detailed anecdotal info to follow in later posts!
- I couldn’t succeed in arranging nice warm weather for her, but managed to organise the second snowfall in Shanghai within the last two months. The weather put on a fairly impressive display of snow for my friend who is somewhat unaccustomed to the cold after living in sub-tropical climes for the last 8 years
- Many hours spent haggling with, arguing with, being manipulated by, trying to outwit and not be outwitted by various salesmen and sales ladies (we THINK we succeeded in the outwitting contests in most instances….but not too sure – after a long day on the bargaining battle field, one’s resilience tends to wane a bit)
- Wishing I could throw a tantrum in Mandarin to give full embodiment to my frustrations at an attempted rip-off by a taxi driver
- Carrying near-to-breaking (and trying to hold together already-broken) black plastic bags filled with handbags and jewelry of varying colours, shapes, sizes, “brands” and quality
- Playing “queue-queue-push-and-shove” in a China Post post office on Saturday morning while trying to send boxes out of the country by airmail. Our fellow participants in this event were part of an ever growing crowd of other customers trying to post parcels before Spring Festival
- Re-discovering that it is not a good idea to try to exchange USD into the local currency AFTER leaving the airport: the foreign banks are just not interested if you don’t have an account with them (“so sorry for you”) and the local banks require reams of paperwork and the inevitable “take a number and wait your turn” procedure that follows can be a bit of a time and energy killer
I don’t think that I am quite ready to change my day-job to full-time shopping expert just yet!
I am sure I will remember some more of these interesting adventures as I reflect on them over the next few weeks – I think I will request a guest post from my friend to give her perspective on some of these delightful experiences…