a supermarket shopping trip
05/08/2008 - 05/08/2008
It rained a lot last night, I came fully awake sometime during and couldn't sleep for an hour or more until the storms passed. I had taken about 10ml of the children's cough syrup to dry up my nose and ease the cough for sleeping, but somehow I still felt it unpleasant, the breathing i mean. My nose is running like a faucet today, with occasional sneezing. If i have the same virus Skyler does, which seems likely, then it's manifested itself quite differently for me. No fever or sore throat. Deep hacking cough with a little phlegm, scratchy throat, and now the extreme runny nose and occasional sudden hard sneezes. I haven't been able to find my handkerchief since we arrived in Wuhan, so I've rubbed my nose raw with toilet paper.
We went shopping this morning to a one of the big supermarkets (there are a number of them) in Wuhan: a Carrefour. Carrefour is a french supermarket chain that is big in china. Walmart is trying to compete with them now, and there are several chinese chains as well. although I heard rumors about nationalists boycotting carrefour (after the embarrassments of interfering with the olympic torch relay in france), there seemed to be a lot of customers.
These supermarkets are quite similar to american style, except that they are much more "big boxes" than american ones: because land is so dear, they build upwards, and the supermarket is on 2 or 3 separate floors. In this carrefour, the ground floor was like a tiny indoor mall, and you have to walk through half of it to get upstairs to the carrefour, and the other half on your way out. Devious marketers. The several floors are connected by moving walkways inclined at an angle. A clever design of the treads allows you to roll your shopping cart right onto the walkway and the wheels will lock in place, carrying it up or down the incline.
Like most chinese stores and restaurants, "help" (by which I mean labor, or employees) is plentiful. Kind of disconcerting to an american shopper, being eyed by employees wherever you go, but not surprising. Skyler charmed a number of people of course despite being overly tired (no morning nap).
We spent about $61, but $27 of it was a pack of imported diapers. The disposables which wick away the moisture allow Skyler to sleep through the night. We could have saved some $6-7 and bought Chinese brand, but we had some bad luck with diapers we bought in a little market in Guangzhou the night we arrived. Although they _said_ pampers on the side, they were most certainly not... Oh, I never told you: our luggage was delayed a day in Guangzhou by TSA inspection, so our first day after 24 hours travel we had to wear borrowed clothes. Everything arrived safely though.
The Carrefour and Walmart both have chartered buses which go from various areas of the city direct to their stores. we caught one just a few minutes before it left on the way home, which made getting the goods home a little easier and saved a few yuan on public bus fare (1.2 - 2.0Y / person, depending on comfort).
We had a great late lunch, including a fish we picked up at the Carrefour, and some home-made sausage (yeye and nainai made it before new year, sort of traditional). Then Zhewei finally got skyler to nap, and everyone slept (except me, today). It rained for a couple hours which cooled the air a lot, but there's not much breeze. The rain cleans the air up nicely, but of course it's also cloudy. It's amazing how fast the dust builds up. If I get industrious I'll do a little photographic demonstration later.
I had a dose of chinese herbal medicine to help with my symptoms -- a couple tiny bottles sealed with wax containing a bitter brown fluid. It comes with tiny straws to allow you to drink the stuff like a juice-box. The label says "bitter and slightly sweet", but the sweet part is really a stretch, even by chinese standards. (Chinese cookies and cakes generally go much lighter on sugar than american or european ones, but some interesting confections use a lot of oil.) not sure whether this stuff works.
I'd been hoping to post my thoughts to a blog, along with photos, but the great firewall blocks blogspot, where I'd created a blog before I left. Seems most chinese blog using home-grown software and sites, which of course are all in chinese. Will keep looking for an alternative. In the process of searching, I ran across several interesting Chinese expat blogs, and promptly wasted many hours reading. Some of it is pretty fascinating though.
http://www.chinaexpat.com/ or http://www.pandapassport.com/ or
The Firewall also blocks blogs on lots of newspaper sites (WaPo, LATimes, NYT), and RSS feeds. I've resorted to logging in to WaPo and NYT so I can read stories from front pages. Took several days to read and catch up on politics (jeez Hillary, c'mon already, Rocky got beat too).
Zhewei has been watching television in the last few evenings, after Skyler sleeps. A lot of silliness there. The non-business news shows are about 90% Olympics stories, although there have been several pieces talking about a corruption scandal in Taiwan ($30m gone missing, apparently, and two people have resigned). the chinese govt must love having the Olympics, though, to distract citizens from real issues for the better part of a year. One hour-long interview and audience Q&A (surely staged) with a Chinese student studying in Paris, talking about -- you guessed it -- the French interfering with the torch relay. There's an evening show something like "guinness book of records" style, where people with unusual skills are challenged, and given an award if they succeed. Most definitely not Guinness records, though: putting basketballs through a hoop using a forklift, a sculptor making the Olympic logo with mascots in clay in under 3 minutes, a guy balancing a column of 8 stools held with one hand for two minutes, and some which are just too hard to describe.