Monday, March 16, 2009
Tang Me to the Moon
We sped through our meetings and explorations this morning so we could have a leisurely visit to the Pudong Fakes Market. Not that we condone buying of fakes or any sort of infringement of copyright, but we are scientists and know that our readers crave solid information. Inquiring minds want to know.
We had already been to the Fenshine Bldg. on Nanjing Road where three floors of alternative choices are arranged in Shenzhen style. After hearing good reports about the market in Pudong-- but way, way out in Pudong-- we decided to have a look-see.
For the last two days we had talked ourselves out of going to this market, having been told it was in a metro station and 25 minutes away from 'downtown' Pudong by taxi. Then this morning we heard that the market was not in a metro station but the basement of the Science Museum-- this classed it up enormously-- and that it was an excellent market.
1) The market is in a metro station.
2) This is one of the worst markets I have ever been to, I would not send anyone here and I would be horrified if you didn't trust me on this.
Our taxi driver dropped us at the side of the museum. It is a gorgeous, glorious, inviting museum of modern architectural grace and strength with a bronze of the world resting on a dragon's back. From where we landed, there was no indication of the market. But we had it written in Chinese and were able to ask. Finally some very nice guy decided to accompany us and show us to the dark side. Shades of CSI all over again.
He led us up, down, around ramps, past the dragon and underground into the, yup, metro station. Then he followed us around and tried to get us to buy so he could have a commish. This was a ton of fun. The floor smelled of cat pee. Hmmm ...was that really cat?
The few vendors we tested had triple fake doors, like an accordian of possibilities behind shelves that kept folding outward to reveal more shelves of handbags. After we were locked into one cabinet, we decided to get out of Dodge.
"Open the door!" Sarah hissed at me.
"I would if I could," I shot back.
When we were free, we ran.
Deciding that a true scientist would have to return to the Fenshine market for on the spot comparison, and having wads of yuan in our pockets as we expected a final run to glory in Pudong, we caught the first taxi from the long line out of there and sped back toward PuXi. We wondered how many shoppers had run out of that market in hysterics, waving taxi cards for Fenshine.
Sarah and I have been very conservative in our shopping and I had fears that I did not have enough $10 gifts. Suddenly I was suffering Shopper's Last Day Syndrome, which can be quite upsetting.
I've found that my Five Dollar Friends now get $10 gifts because nothing is as inexpensive in China as it used to be. I had bought a few $50 gifts for my $100 friends and business associates and now worried that they didn't look expensive enough. Do the recipients of gifts from China automatically assume that said gifts cost very little moolah? Maybe it's better to just go to Tiffany & Co.? Or eBay? What would Confuscious say?
We put philosophy aside as we worked the three floors of Fenshine. Many vendors remembered us. I had regretted not buying DVD's of the Opening Ceremonies of the 2008 Olympics ande tried desperately to scrounge up a few copies as gifts. No luck. I must have tried ten different vendors and could only find one dealer-- this guy tried to tell me that although the cover said CLOSING CEREMONIES, this was indeed the Opening Ceremonies. He also asked 50 yuan for one DVD (going price for a foreigner is 10).
The hit of the venture was a visit to a stand that sold silk tsotchkes in the style of Shanghai Tang.
"This good stuff, lady, this real Shanghai Tang!"
The merchandise was good, the prices fair after a half hour of hard bargaining (I am exhausted) but the prices were not inexpensive. We paid just about $10 for each silk pouch for DVDs (or CDs). This will make our presentations exquisite but is not what I'd call a serious bargain.
Of course, a pair of pyjamas at Shanghai Tang cost $300, so maybe it was a bargain.