Wednesday, January 24, 2007

China Part 3: Shopping at 1/8 the price

You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant
-Arlo Guthrie

I'll stop by the factory tomorrow morning and get you one.
-Assorted Guangzhou shopkeepers

everything
I'll make you a good deal...

As I mentioned earlier, Guangzhou is the commerce center of China. Anything shipped out of China goes through this city. Couple this with an exchange rate of 7.71 Yuan per American dollar and suddenly we needed to buy two more suitcases. We had heard tales of the treasures available in Guangzhou but the last time we were in China we were in this city for only a few hours and weren't able to partake in it's consumerist glory. This time we were there for three weeks. Sweet!

Misseswether and I had very different shopping goals. She want to get stuff for Mini and Mambo such as Chinese-style dresses and materials to help them learn the Chinese language.

bookshoping books
Books books books.

Me? I was after Ren-bling!

bling pipe
Assorted jewlery, baubles, and accessories for my Renaissance Festival garb. Dig the opium pipe carved out of ox bone!
Note: I neither use or promote the use of any illegal substances (except for certian pesticides or anything with a fuse).

I spend a lot of time on ebay looking for stuff to improve my Ren garb and noticed a lot of "antique" stuff comes from China. On a whim before heading to Guangzhou I printed out pictures of some stuff I was interested in and brought them along. I showed them to various shopkeepers and they all responded the same way, "Yes, I can get that from the factory tomorrow morning before I open. Can you come back then?". True to their word the next day they would have the brass compass etched with dragons or the incense burner I saw on ebay. Better still, depending on the shop their prices were about a tenth of the ebay costs. The cheapest/best shop for this was "The Shop on the Stairs". Ask for Peter and tell him, "the really tall guy sent us." Peter (the name he used with Americans) could get anything I wanted at half the price of other shops in the area. We spent a lot of money at his Shop on the Stairs.

Adding a few more shiney-pointy's

blades
Number of knives/swords currently in reach: 31
Total number: 50-ish

Another cool thing available in Guanzhou are granite etchings. Give them a picture and in two days they'll have chipped it into a peice of rock!

granite granite2

Granite3 granite1
Will not fade for 24.7 million years or your money back!

The other bonus of our long stay was I had time to get custom clothing made. Yep, more RenFest garb! I had two silk Mandarin-style shirts, two silk pants, two silk vests, and a royal robe made all for less than $200 American. Sweet! You'll have to wait though to see most of it until we do our next Renfest. I don't want to spoil the suprise of our other RenFriends but I'll give you a peek at my robe and the girls of "A House of Love". This is where I had all my clothes made and where Misseswether got most of her books. Miniwether became very attached to the shopkeeper at this store.

silk
Note: The girls would have costed significantly extra...

Coco
Coco and Miniwether, friends forever.

As mentioned earlier, Misseswether also bought a lot of clothes for the girls at this shop. We now have Chinese-style dresses in silk and cotton in every size to fit them from now until their early teens. They are already carefully packed away so I don't have a picture.

Of course there were also tons of pirated stuff for sale. New DVD movies for $1, North Face jackets for $10, iPods and gold Rolex watches for $20. We have no desire for that stuff so it remains in China waiting for others with less understanding of intellectual property rights. Considering I make my money off patents I'm a bit sensitive to this issue.

Well, okay, I did get a $20 iPod. It's a peice of crap. Serves me right.

The other thing looked at but never purchased was Chinese "medicine". If you think eating weird creatures is the way to get your pants-pal up and eager again, this is the place to be. One whole block near are hotel was devoted to Chinese medicine, which means bags and bags of dried seahorse, snakes, and foul-smelling herbs.

medicine
Eye of newt, tongue of frog...

On that note, don't miss China Part 4: Eating things before they crawl off the plate. Coming soon!

Adventure! Excitement! Maximum luggage weight limits!

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