The Secret Imitation Room

June 29, 2009 § 2 Comments

I am currently staying with friends in 上海/Shanghai.  If you want to get more specific and complicated, they are also my college friend/floormate’s parents and little sister OR my boyfriend’s aunt, uncle, and cousin.  For the purposes of the China posts they are, 大舅舅/Da Jo Jo (uncle), 大舅妈/Da Jo Ma (aunt), and Amy (cousin).  Don’t spell it that way in real life though because that is not even real pinyin.  Jo is really supposed to be spelled “jiu.”

Anyway, it’s an interesting story of how I came to be here but it’s 2am and I need to get up early tomorrow so I’ll save it for another time.  The house is very nice and the hosts very warm and welcoming, so I feel very lucky to be here.  Delicious home cooked meals beat out cheap neighborhood food in any country, and Shanghai is no exception.  I could seriously just stay in this house the whole ten days and eat and be satisfied with the China portion of my trip.

But I won’t.  😉

Today was pretty interesting.  I tagged along while Amy taught English got to interact with real Shanghainese people!    I was role playing as a customer though so rather than getting to know where they were from or what they like to do, I learned if they knew how to explain where hotel objects were located in the room.  Hehe.

Afterwards, Amy, Da Jo Ma and I visited some shopping mall (lol.. I’m too lazy to look up the name right now).  The most exciting occurence during the trip was when we passed what looked like a regular bag and luggage store.  The salesman kept on asking us to take a look when he suddenly moved some suitcases out of the way and opened a secret door that led to a room full of imitation brand names.  He then opened ANOTHER secret door that led to another room with knockoffs.  I really wanted to take a picture but Da Jo Ma said that he probably wouldn’t let me so I didn’t ask.  It was so crazy!!  I have never seen anything like that in my life.  I felt so cool.  Like part of the mafia or something.    Now every time I pass a bag store, I am going to wonder if there is anything behind the wall.

Something else cool they offer in the mall is tailor made clothes.  I was wondering why they only had one of each item when Do Jo Ma explained that they were not actual clothing stores but tailors where you can choose the fabric of your choice and then get an item specifically made for you.  I don’t know how much it costs because it depends on what you want them to make for you but apparently it only takes about a week.  I browsed around the stores a little longer but didn’t actually end up buying anything.  My friend told me that you should always haggle at shopping centers like the one we visited today and that the general rule of thumb is offering 1/4 the price they ask for. I feel like 1/4 would be too low at Namdaemun in Korea but then again, maybe I just wasn’t tough enough and didn’t hold out long enough.  I’m a bit intimidated and not eager about haggling in Mandarin but I think I should try at least once for the experience.  I’m sure I will visit at least one more shopping center during my time here so I will let you know how that goes.

While I was coming from the airport to the house yesterday, my immediate thought was, “Wow, this looks like America!”  Shanghai is so industrialized and developed and although there are still many signs of construction, it is amazing how far this city has come in a mere 15 years.  Da Jo Ma was telling me how some parts of the city were just grassy plains when she first came here.  I think it’s so cool that they were here to witness and be a part of the rapid development of Shanghai.  To be honest, I was a little scared that it might be awkward here without my friend Tim or boyfriend being here with me (since I’m staying with their relatives, and not technically mine), but it’s actually really nice.  I’ve met them all a few times before coming to Shanghai but I don’t think I’ve ever sat down and had a real conversation with them.  It was so interesting talking to them about the differences between Korea and China and Taiwan after dinner today and I learned so much from that one conversation.

Note to self:  figure out how to gracefully exit a blog post

Bye. 😉


§ 2 Responses to The Secret Imitation Room

  • Peggy Li says:

    Joanna, you should tailor make a Chi-Pao (the traditional chinese dress for ladies) using the traditional silk (or satin) fabric. It will look beautiful on you and you will find it handy in the future 🙂 Also don’t do the bargain yourself. The chinese merchants are smart, they can tell at the first glance that you are an amateur. Leave it to the expert — ask Da Jiu Ma do it for you. And you are lucky to see the fake brand-name handbags stores. Only the rich ladies from US who have the right tour guide will get to see those stores 🙂

  • Laura says:

    You’re not tough enough. Bargain till you cry. I want a tailor.

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