We bought new cell phones yesterday morning. We were on the third floor of MetroCity – where every booth sells phones. (Ed note: this is a technology Granville Island of 7 floors – each of the floors is dedicated to one form of technology – one floor is laptops, one floor is cameras, one floor is cell phones etc. etc.). Anyway, after two hours of crazy negotiations: we started talking with one guy who quickly called over his English-speaking assistant to translate. He gave us the hard sell, which is to be expected, and once we agreed to the units and the prices, we were passed through another 4 people – one who put in the sim cards and wrote the warranty, another to repackage and bag, a third to take cash, and a fourth who did a significant amount of shouting across the store for unintelligible purposes. Quite something–the number of people that it takes to complete any transaction in this country is amazing! Then the sim card person and the translator took us across the street to the ChinaMobile store to sign us up with them – they were away from their store for a good half hour – fantastic service. (Ed note: On the other hand, where every single “shop’ is selling phones – they have to distinguish themselves somehow.)
On another note, forget the claim of Visa that it can be used anywhere. It can’t. We thought it was only Jiaxing that was behind the times but Shanghai is no better. You can use a charge card at the big hotels and the high-end shops (of which there are many many many) but everywhere else, forget it. You would think an expensive cell phone purchase in a big store in a huge mall would accept it, but no. So it’s back and forth – to first find an ATM that will accept your card, then get enough cash to cover your purchase. No problem if you have a Chinese bank account and card but foreigners have no luck.
Later in the day we met up with our teacher friends from home, Al and Mary Lee Thomas and Lawrence Vea. We spent a few hours buying prescription glasses at an emporium devoted to this cause ($43 single vision sunglasses), then headed to a western style restaurant where we caught up over a great meal. (Ed note: Terry has shortened the negotiation process dramatically. In the first 1:15 the four people buying chose frames, finish and had prescription read. An hour or so after that, Terry and Lawrence’s glasses were ready. Al had two pair of glasses – both prescription, one regular and one sunglasses for $101.68, Terry’s prescription sunglasses were $43.00. I bought Gucci (“My friend, they are real – trust me.” sunglasses for $33.00 – but they were nice people and I was tired of negotiating for Terry).
Today, we met again for breakfast at our second Canadian owned Big Bamboo. Eggs Benny, eggs anyway you want them with the works, omelets, hot plentiful coffee, NFL football. (Ed note: In my humble opinion the Big Bamboo is resting on its laurels as a Canadian place – food is average – at best. Sorry all who are here and are reading this.) Afterwards, we walked to a knock-off mall, had some fun bargaining (Ed note: Terry turned down a Gucci and a Rolex watch for a total of $50.00 – okay so they were a Chinese Gucci and a Chinese Rolex – but they were both from the secret room in the back of the store where she bought the UGG (Chinese) slippers for $20.00), then we went our separate ways.
Geoff and I spent the afternoon on a double-decker tour bus. It was amazing! Not because of the tour or the places we saw but because of the National Day crowds! Have a look at the video and the pics at Flickr. It took the bus 25 minutes to pass through a single intersection. You had to see it to believe it–throngs of people moving from one end of Nanjing Road to The Bund and vice versa. Watching the crowds was like watching the mud in an earthquake, simply surging forward to fill in every available gap. We had strolled The Bund on Saturday and there was no one there; today, insane! What were they doing? Shopping, walking, visiting–a lot of people looked tired but not many were irate. This is what Shanghai looks like on a holiday Monday! We were so happy to be observers from above, rather than trying to walk in the crowd. Home early tonight, feet up, drinking wine and having an easy meal. Good times.
- Check out the people on the below on the upper level as well as the lower level. It really was a mass of people.
- BTW – In the last blog we mentioned my haircut. It was expensive – 48 yuan – or $8.00)