Posted by She Said
My new friend, Lilian, and I went out for another girls’ night out last night, and I had a BLAST. She took me over to an area by one of the universities to have dinner and then to “shop” at the outdoor market. This outdoor market was basically a string of makeshift displays on the sidewalk along several city blocks. This is one of the places where you can negotiate price. Now THAT’S my kind of shopping.
The highlight on the taxi ride over to this area of Beijing was seeing two men in a van stop in the middle of an intersection and change positions (driver to passenger and passenger to driver). I SAW A BONA FIDE CHINESE FIRE DRILL!
I explained to Lilian that I was open to talking about anything, and if she had questions about the U.S., to please ask. We had a very interesting discussion that touched on capitalism, credit cards, and children. My favorite discussion, however, was this:
Me: What is your favorite Chinese holiday?
Lilian: Chinese New Year.
Me: How do you celebrate it?
Lilian: Family comes together and has a big meal. And many fireworks.
Me: Our Independence Day is when we use fireworks.
Lilian: Do you do the fireworks?
Me: No. It is illegal in most places. We watch shows put on by professionals.
Lilian: <looking perplexed> You can’t do fireworks, but you can have a gun?
Very observant. And funny.
While ordering, Lilian asked if I would like some wine with dinner. Um, does a dog want a bone? So, she ordered this wine, which was presented in a bamboo carafe, and with its cloudy white splendor, I thought I had finally found the right wine for me and Greg. It was a little sweet and it didn’t taste like Chinese White Not Wine.
I pleaded with Lilian to take me to a store and show me where to get it, but she said, “I don’t think you can find. Maybe the restaurant will sell you one.” I figured, hey, here’s a way to see what the label looks like and I can keep my eye out for it at the market. Only, this is the way they delivered it:
Even though the name is in Chinese, I have a sneaky suspicion all the ad campaigns in the States have paid off, and you can guess what was once in this bottle. Yup, Coca Cola. I guess if we really want more, we will have to go back to the restaurant to get it. Do you think we might get a percentage discount if we bring in our own empty Coke bottles?
I wish my negotiating skills as we shopped went as well as my conversation with Lilian. However, my suggested prices were turned down every time but once. I got a beautiful scarf for 15 yuan (a little over 2 bucks) when he was asking 20. I also got a new copy of A Thousand Splendid Suns for 15 yuan. Overall, it was a success in my book.