Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Day 1485 - China Day Three

Markets, taxis, crowds, strange smells and squat toilets

The Canton Fair goes through different phases, and between each phase it takes a few days for the stall holders to bump out and new ones to bump in.  When we arrived it was all about toys and home wares and in a few days it will be the clothing and sporting goods section I am anxiously awaiting.  So for the few days in between we decided to scan the local markets (both retail and wholesale) to see what people are selling, what people are buying and how much it's going for.

Yesterday we caught a taxi to The Beijing Lu Pedestrian Street which was blocks and blocks of market style shops with indoor alley ways that stretched 100 metres and stall holders selling everything from clothes, to watches, to shoes, to handbags, to iPhone cases to toys.  Everything was under cover in mall type buildings.  Just quickly .., the taxi drive was hairy ... cars going in all directions, not staying in lanes, just randomly stopping in the middle of a highway, bikes weaving in and out, motorbikes with a family of three or four (no helmets) in the mix ... crazy ...  but I have decided that the Chinese must be VERY GOOD drivers. We have not yet seen an accident nor a dead body by the side of the road.  That is either a miracle or a testament to precision driving.  

Back to the markets.  There were people everywhere and not a westerner in sight.  I think for the entire four hours we were there n amongst thousands and thousands of people we saw around five people from anglo-saxon origins.  It was interesting to be in the minority.  I didn't pick it up right away until Kristy pointed it out.  Huh! Just proves that Guangzhou really isn't a place you would come on holidays.  When store holders saw us they were very proud to shout out "hello" to get our attention and to practise their English.  Parents of small children were also encouraging their young ones to say "hello" so they too could impress us with their English.  They do a whole lot better with their English than I'm doing with my Chinese. I am hopeless with foreign languages made worse by my fear of them.  I just can't get the accent and tone right.  Yesterday I very proudly decided to say "thank you".  It got a great deal of giggling from both Kristy and my waitress because I completely stuffed it and said "hello" instead.  So when the Chinese want to practise with me I give them a big thumbs up.  How clever they are.

I managed to do a bit of shopping at the markets yesterday. I found it very easy to buy for Tahlia but quite a bit harder to buy for Darby. I could have shopped for Tahlia all day. Darby is a shoe man but I didn't bring his measurements with me.  I have since fixed that by emailing Derek overnight to get the length and breadth of Darby's foot so I can pick up some shoes.  Things are cheap (of course).  I picked up a leather wallet for Derek for $15 AUD and a small handbag for myself for $20 AUD.  I got a fantastic fashion backpack for Tahlia for $20 and a dogchain style necklace for Darby for $4.

The most important thing for us is that we are seeing what their retailers are selling for.  Which means we know they must be able to buy the products from manufacturers or wholesalers for next to nothing.  That gives us hope.

Yesterday was also a lesson in dealing with crowds, constant smoking, strange food smells and public squat toilets.  Let's just say I did a lot of "heaving" and if I don't vomit before this trip is out it will be a miracle.  My system is just not used to it.  I am sure I would eventually get used to it ... you would hope ... but right now the senses are in overdrive and I'm struggling.

As for the squat toilets it appears that it must be difficult to get your aim right when you are pooing because there is often a pile that didn't make it in the toilet.  Heaving much? Hell yeah. I rest my case.

Enjoy the pictures.


  1. Oh god, I hated the squat toilets in Beijing. Particularly the ones in the hutongs. I just kept having to look at it as a cultural experience! So grateful for my flushable loo! Kx

  2. I have never been but ewww the squat toilets would make me want to heave to, although the markets sound like fun :-)

  3. The squat toilets are gross aren't they? The hardest part is placing your feet and having your pants rolled up as to not let them sit in the mess where previous patros have mis aimed. I used one once in Africa and that was enough for me! Eww!!

  4. The squat toilets are gross aren't they? The hardest part is placing your feet and having your pants rolled up as to not let them sit in the mess where previous patros have mis aimed. I used one once in Africa and that was enough for me! Eww!!

  5. Oh I would love to go to China! So jealous!

    Will have to bookmark your posts on it so I don't miss anything when we go!

  6. What an incredible adventure! Love the images! I cannot get my head around squat toilets, at - all! Have fun Josefa #teamIBOT

  7. Wow what an eye opener that is - those photos - so smoggy also. Squat toilets freak me out, I so would have hurled Leanne. Enjoy your exploration mission :) Em

  8. We took our first daughter to Shanghai at 6 months of age. We were followed by crowds of people everywhere we went! They were very unused to Westerners and we were the subjects of many photos. They were fascinated by the baby!
    The crowding in China is unbelievable and I still recall having strangers hands on my back in so many places, actually pushing us along in the crowd! A strange place but a fascinating one!

  9. I think weeing is actually harder on a squat toilet, because you have to make sure it doesn't go down your leg!
    Sounds like your having a great time though. The markets sound amazing


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