Monday, December 3rd
On my last day in China, I woke up sore beyond belief. Ouch. Since Peter had to work all day, I spent the morning packing all our belongings. We would both be moving out of our tiny shoebox apartment so everything had to go. Good thing the apartment was so small that everything was easy to put away.
In the afternoon I decided to make one final pitstop at Peal City Market for some last minute Christmas shopping. This is what I encountered when I stepped outside the apartment:
A restaurant opened next door to us in a matter of days. Store openings are a big deal in China and they really go all out for it. We witnessed the late night celebratory firework display outside our window the night of the opening. The restaurant set off lines of fireworks on the street, stopping traffic for a solid 5 minutes while the street exploded in light. In addition, they lined the entranceway with dozens of decorative palm fronds covered with flowers and red ribbons. This would be up for days.
I like the decorations except it makes the impossibly narrow sidewalk by our place even more narrow! Did I mention we live next to a Michelin garage on the corner of the street? This means I am constantly maneuvering cars, soapy puddles, and metal welding on the sidewalk in addition to the stares of the Chinese guys who work there. It’s fun.
Now back to the Pearl City Market…
Just a 20 minute bus ride later and I arrived at Hong Mei Lu, prepared for a quick shopping trip. Despite being scared of shopping by myself, I easily procured a tea set for Peter’s mom, beautiful postcards, and some embroideries for my grandmothers. I wanted to find something unique for my parents so I headed to the 3rd floor. While browsing a small store for some journals and chatting up the owner, he randomly asked if I wanted to look at purses.
I shocked myself by saying yes! He whisked me away into a secret room full of Chanel purses. I was hesitant. I had already bought three purses and two wallets. Then I surprised myself even more by bargaining hardcore for a purse, 2 wallets, and 3 scarves. Dear lord, I was becoming a bargaining queen! At that point I knew I had to get out of there!
But the damage was done. I was on a buying rampage! I bought the perfect gifts for my parents then somehow bought myself 2 scarves in the process. I thought I was safe when I exited the building until I saw street vendors laying out beautiful jewelry. UHOH.
I had always wanted to buy cheap jewelry in China but always talked myself out of it. This time I was determined. I worked with this sweet lady speaking a different dialect on 3 long necklaces which she made longer for me buy cutting and adding extra chain length. I also picked up this unique beaded leather bracelet. When she grabbed her calculator to ring up the price I realized I was way short on cash! After bargaining a bit I worked it down to just the 3 necklaces. However, she took the leather bracelet and handed it to me, gesturing for me to take it. So kind!
I walked away happy, wearing my new leather bracelet and dragging even more trash bags of presents. Shopping success!
Now I just needed to fit all this stuff in my suitcases….