Archives For Shopping

The Daily Market

September 13, 2019 — Leave a comment

Please allow me to take you on a brief tour of a daily market in eastern China. This city is not considered a large one, but it has grown extremely fast in the last few years. Even though the vendors are busy, they have always been kind, patient, and fun to be around. Would you like to meet one?

Obviously this guy is a butcher, and he said he would give us any cut of meat, just tell him what we wanted. He did, however, take time to let us know that his sausages were the best in the city. He was very good at marketing, and laughing at his obvious selling techniques. 

As you can see in the photo above, cleavers are VERY common in China. I can’t imagine going to a market and not seeing them. Additionally, the hard wood cutting blocks are frequently used by the butchers. 

From what I could see, there was absolutely no way this chicken could have gotten out of the cage, but it looks like somehow it did. It kind of looks like he is the boss looking down on his workers. Yes, at this market you can buy your chicken alive or already dressed. It is your choice! 

It is quite common for a Chinese family to go to the market each morning to get the food for the day. This way the freshest food will be served, and you get great prices at these markets compared to the big grocery stores . . . usually! Often the farmers will get up very early in the mornings and drive their products into the city. Many of the markets are only opened in the mornings.

If you have an opportunity to visit one of these daily markets, I strongly encourage you to partake. Remember, you never know what you might see! 

Happy traveling!

One of the many ways Global Partners in Life serves the children at the special needs orphanage we support in China is to provide for their daily needs. Yes, we also provide for their medical needs, educational needs, and the workers that take care of them; but one of the things I enjoy doing for them is just a simple trip to the grocery store. Would you like to know what is purchased for them?

Almost always I purchase school and office supplies, and I always provide diapers . . . lots of diapers. Sometimes I will purchase rice, and I frequently purchase cleaning supplies. Something the children also enjoy is when I bring them toys, puzzles, games, and outdoor equipment, and I always purchase some of those items.

One of the things I enjoy purchasing for the children is beef, which is very expensive in China; so they rarely eat it, but they like it very much. On my last trip, I met a very friendly lady in the meat section of the grocery store, and she was willing to let me photograph her. She was wearing an interesting hat, not one of the normal white hair nets most people wear.

A Simple Trip to the Grocery Store

This nice lady was working very close to a display of pig snouts, but she didn’t try to get me to buy any of them. Don’t worry — I didn’t buy any for the children!

A Simple Trip to the Grocery Store

So, as you can see, one of the many ways Global Partners in Life helps provide for the children is by a simple trip to the local grocery store!

The Show Must Go On

March 28, 2017 — Leave a comment

One of the interesting things to me about Chinese culture is how the indigenous people will go out each morning and purchase the food and other items they will need for the day. Believe me, the Chinese start earlier than we Americans do!

There are many intriguing aspects to the early morning shopping, and one of them is the morning market which appears all across China each day. The local farmers will bring their products into the city each morning, set up a stand, and sell the freshest vegetables, meat, fruits, baked goods, tofu, and fruits. Then in a flash, they all tear down their stands and the street returns to normal before the rush hour starts. So, what do you think would happen if there was snow?

The Show Must Go On - Morning Market

As you can see in the photograph above, the snow doesn’t prevent the vendors from coming to the morning market, nor does it stop the customers. I must admit, I was pretty surprised to see how all of the vendors still made it into the city, and the locals came out in the snow to do their daily shopping. I am from Atlanta, Georgia, and the amount of snow we saw this morning would have crippled the city!

Hopefully you don’t get caught in a snow storm in China! But if you do, take heart — because the morning market will be there for you!

 

Someone with Everything

September 20, 2016 — Leave a comment

There is an age old question: what do you give somebody that has everything? During a recent trip to China, I got a couple of ideas!

What do you get someone who has everything? A gold plated communication device!

Above you see a gold-plated communications device. I can’t tell if it is a phone or a walkie talkie, but the real eye-catcher is the golden exterior. If you are trying to keep up with the Joneses, this may give you a leg up on them! This little gem was selling for about $150, so unfortunately, I don’t think the gold is real but it is quite a statement-maker!

If that isn’t quite what you think the person would like, what about a personal-sized helicopter? This flying transportation is sure to make anyone happy!

What do you get someone who has everything? A personal sized helicopter!

There is just enough room for two people and maybe a couple of small items, like a backpack or a laptop case, in this eye catcher. Now that would be a gift they would remember! Based on the condition of this helicopter, there is a good reason why it is located in a park surrounded by trees!

The next time you are stuck in the dilemma of what to get someone who has it all, you now have a couple of additional items to consider.  Enjoy your shopping!

Shoehorn

May 3, 2016 — Leave a comment

One of the many aspects for a successful retail store is to have displays which catch your eye for some reason or are attractive. During my last trip to China, I saw a very interesting display for shoes.

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As you can see in the photo above, this display is VERY colorful and imaginative! This is truly a unique way to merchandise your product, but I am not sure I understand the why those animals were selected along with a soccer ball. If the shoes were lined with wool, I can understand the sheep. If the shoes had been cleats, I would understand the soccer ball. Maybe the ram with the horns are to designate a shoe horn, but the penguin, elephant, and kangaroo have me stumped.   I will give you an even closer look below.

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Maybe the point of the display is for us to be drawn in by the display, purchase some of their products, so the display doesn’t need to have a logical element to it. Regardless of the intent, this merchandising technique was an attention grabber, so I give credit for that. I look forward to returning to this shop and seeing what creative marketing ideas they implement next!

There are so many ways to help other people, and sometimes something very small becomes something very large or helpful. Such was the case during my trip to China when Global Partners in Life was purchasing Christmas gifts, food, and household items for the special needs orphanage we support in China.

If you have spent much time in China, you know that when the wind blows you can often see plastic bags blowing in the wind. To combat this type of trash or pollution, stores started charging for plastic bags. Typically, the bags you would get in China aren’t as thick and strong as the ones we receive in the states. You can get a larger and stronger, but that costs more.

I am very thankful that Brenda Clifton is one of Global Partners in Life’s board members, and she was with me on this trip. She has been to China with me several times before, so she knows the process for shopping for the special needs orphanage. Prior to our trip, Brenda had gone to Chick-fil-A and told them about our trip. She asked if they would be willing to donate some of their large bags, and they did! These bags were stronger than what we could have purchased at the store, so we were able to put more Christmas gifts and supplies in the bags as you can see below.

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If you are wondering, the large green bag is rice, and it had handles built into the bag. The light blue bag is full of diapers, but they are light, so no handle was needed.

If you are a Chick-fil-A fan like I am, it is wonderful to see them in China, even if it is just their bags. I look forward to the day their restaurants are actually in China! What must have seemed a small gesture on their part literally brought much joy and provisions to some wonderful and needy people at Christmas! Please remember that the smallest amount of help you give can have a huge impact for someone else!

During my last trip to China, I was at a store which is much like a Chinese version of Walmart. I almost always do some shopping for the special needs orphanage supported by Global Partners in Life when I am in town and this day was no different. There is an escalator that takes you from the clothes, electronics, toys, office, and home products to the grocery area. Usually the walls in this area are bare or they will have an advertisement for some product like toothpaste on them.

Let me state that I don’t consider myself a speaker of the Chinese language and I definitely don’t know all of the characters commonly used in their language. Having established that, I can’t tell you for sure what the pictures I am about to share with you say, but I think it is like a get to know your farmer program.

As you can see in the first two pictures, a couple of different types of cabbage are shown. China has several cabbages and I must say they taste very good. The larger cabbage is called “da to cai” which translates out to big head cabbage and yes, I probably didn’t spell that correctly.

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farmers2 Next we have some things we all will recognize – potatoes and cucumbers. The cucumbers in China are like the cabbages in that they come in many different shapes and sizes.

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farmers4My grandparents on my father’s side of the family loved to grow vegetables so I like farmers and I love to eat! I have had the honor to teach the children of many farmers in China. I wish you all could know how humble and hard working they are. In fact, the young lady who was probably my best student was the daughter of a farmer. Also, Global Partners in Life has given scholarships to the children of farmers. They are extraordinarily appreciative of the financial aid given to their child.

Hopefully my stories can help bridge the gap in our cultures and help us to see how much we have in common! Perhaps one day you can join me on a trip and get to know some of the wonderful people of China!

During my last trip to China, it was cold…….very cold! It is common knowledge that there aren’t as many colors to see in the winter, because the flowers aren’t blooming and the trees don’t have leaves and fruit on them.

colors As I was walking down the street, the normally crowded benches were empty and grey. I don’t blame anyone for not wanting to sit outside in the cold in a place where the snow and ice were stacked up very near to where you would be sitting. In the picture to the left you can see this area was void of color.

After seeing all of the dullness and drabness of a winter’s day, something caught my eye. I noticed a lady wearing a coat that was more colorful than any coat I think I have ever seen in China. To my surprise a couple of store fronts down from here, I saw an extremely colorful display. I don’t know what this store was selling, but their advertisement certainly stood out on a dreary day. I also thought it was ironic with the lack of color all around, and then seeing how similar the lady’s coat was to the display in the store. As you can see in the pictures below, these colors grabbed my attention!colors2

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I recently read on the Internet that the air quality in the north east section of China is setting records for having dangerous levels of pollutants in the air. The assumed cause is the cities burning coal to heat their citizens’ homes. Well, not just burning coal, but burning poor quality coal.

In the northern sections of China, the heat comes on the first day of November. If you go further south, the heat will come on the 15th of November. The heat is provided from a huge system of boilers and pipes. The radiators many of us grew up with in schools are still widely used in China.

When I lived in Beijing, my apartment was on the 17th floor. The air quality was so bad that some days I couldn’t see the light poles on the streets below my apartment. The picture below was taken on a clear day.

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The poor quality of the air is why you see many people wearing masks in China. Some people do this inside and outside, as you can see in the next picture.airquality2

If you have respiratory issues, you should consult your physician before visiting China. Culturally speaking, more cigarette smoking takes place inside and outside in China than in the States, so be prepared for that as well. I must commend China for their recent steps to reduce their public smoking.

We probably have some tendencies to stereotype people and certain industries.  As a rule I can tell you that the people of China are very nice, friendly, warm, helpful, and accepting.  There have been VERY few times I have been told no when I asked if I could take a picture of something or someone in China, but this occasion was the exception. I was told no.

As you can see in the picture below, this street vendor wanted to keep his secret recipe to himself, so he told me no photographs of his work.  What he is making is something similar to what people in the States think of as an English Muffin.  

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This gentleman was in a VERY large city in China, so maybe that’s why he wasn’t as friendly as other people I have encountered.  The gentleman in the next picture is also a vendor, and he had no problem at all with allowing me to photograph him and his work. Conversely, he was in a smaller city, so maybe that made a difference.

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As you can tell, he is a butcher and a sausage maker.  Interestingly, not too far from his city is a larger city that once had many Germans living there.  Now that area is known for having good sausage and beer!  

The vendors are almost always super friendly and interesting to interact with when you have time.  Many of the vendors will give you a free sample, so I really like going to see the dried fruit vendors!