Me and Chairman Mao
  To market, to market.

UPDATE: Xiang Yang Market--the video! (Sadly, it's less exciting than it sounds.)

Those of you who have been following my adventures at home or at work--that is, all of you--have no doubt noticed that I have mentioned the Xiangyang Clothing Market on more than one occasion over the past few days. This is not surprising, since--despite all the things to see and do in Shanghai (see yesterday's entry, for example)--I somehow ended up at the market three times in the first three days I was here. Yes, apparently it is just that irresistible.

So, for those of you who may think of visiting Shanghai when we are here, I thought I should take some pictures, to let you know what you'll be missing out on if you don't come see us. (For those of you who don’t know, there is a very, very, very, very good chance that, after leaving Beijing, we will be spending a year in Shanghai. Surprise!)

Anyway, here are some pictures from Xiangyang Market--a more wretched hive of scum and villainy … oh wait, never mind, that's something else. (If you know what I'm talking about, you too may be a dork.) In any case, it's an interesting place, especially when you have a group of two or three constantly changing people following you around the entire time offering bags, watches, Mont Blanc pens, movies, and "Japanese porno," all saying you should "looka looka" in their respective shops. Sounds fun, no?

Xiangyang Market
This is one aisle of the market. It's much, much, much bigger than this. Massive, even.

A Little of Everything
You can, I think, get almost anything there, including--as you can tell from this picture--coats and golf clubs, although for you US-based residents, good luck getting a set of golf clubs through customs.

Like Nordstrom, but Totally Different
Besides bags, shoes are also very popular. There were some nice Diesels here I almost got. Puma and Nike are also big sellers--they even have the old school red and black Air Jordans, which I thought was pretty funny.

Sweat Suits Galore
These Adidas jackets were everywhere. One problem with shopping here is that you never know what you're going to find. In December, everyone had Puma zip-up jackets like this, and I didn't get one because I figured I could just get one next time. Turns out, I was wrong: I didn't find one Puma jacket in the entire market this time. And really, who wants Adidas?

Forever in Blue Jeans
Most of these jeans were "Armani." Sure they were …

Bag Lady
As you may have guessed, there are more bags in the market than anything else. This is one of probably a hundred bag stores. This store was a funny one, though. One of the people with us was from Beijing, and he was looking for a Louis Vuitton bag--a real one. Turns out, this place had them, but just not in plain site. (Apparently, only the fake ones are on display.) The wall in the background actually opens up to reveal a secret room, full of authentic Louis Vuitton bags. (Well, authentic as far as any of us could tell--they were nice, at any rate. Very nice.) In the end, he got a real Louis Vuitton carry-on roller bag for about 65 bucks, which I'm guessing is at least $1,500 less than it would cost in a store. (The initial asking price was a hair under $340, which represents some serious, serious bargaining.) Holly and I didn't get one because, again, that sort of thing is just never making it through US customs. I mean, how many Louis Vuitton suitcases do you see in Sea-Tac?

Barbie Girl
The most annoying part of the market is that you have to bargain for everything, and--since you're a foreigner--they always want to rip you off. I bought a nice Chairman Mao t-shirt the other day, and the girl's initial "very best price" was just over 30 US dollars. In the end, I bought it for less than five, and I'm sure I was still completely ripped off. Here Holly is trying to determine the quality of the Barbie sweater she's bargaining for, since, with fake stuff, you really never know what you're going to get. The last time I was in Shanghai I bought a pair of sunglasses and they broke two hours later.

This May Be Fake
What was I just saying about quality? Sometimes, the quality is pretty obvious. Anyone want some "Calvin Klain" underwear?

Happy Customers
Everyone and their purchases. The LV bag--that's Louis Vuitton, for the men--I mentioned earlier is prominently featured. As is Holly's Gucci laptop bag, which she used for exactly one day before replacing it with a more understated Prada one that I bought for her.

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