Sunday, June 5, 2011

The $1.45 store……

Today (Friday) is the beginning of a three day holiday weekend and you could feel the excitement of the people around us.  WE are also excited as we are looking forward to experiencing a Chinese festival!!!

The day began with Michael working and me trying desperately (and unsuccessfully) to catch up on the blog.

We stopped for lunch at 11:00 and walked to the Physic’s Cafeteria, but arrived a few minutes too early.  Apparently the opening times are as fluid as their traffic lanes are!!!!  However, we soon saw a HUGE vat of rice being brought in, followed by lots of dishes of other items so we joined the line to be served.  Many people brought a large bowl with them and had all of their food placed in the bowl rather than on the tray.  Michael paid for our food, at a cost of 17 Yuan ($US2.50), got our “papers” (we call them napkins) and chopsticks and we headed to the table. 

We saw this sign and wondered what the four “pests” were….feel sure that one of them are Americans!!!

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I am getting better with the chopsticks, but still have a really hard time with rice if it is not globby…..

IMG_0191 I start out with a sizeable amount balanced on my chopsticks but only end up with a few grains in my mouth.  No wonder it takes me so long to eat !!!!

Today, I had pumpkin, greens, eggplant and a chicken wing.  The flavors are subdued and fairly bland, but after last night’s meal that is probably a good thing. …….

IMG_0189As we were walking out, we passed the “bakery” counter and motioned to the older server that we wanted two cookies.  He handed one to us so that we could taste them first.  We LOVED them and proceeded to buy 6 instead of two…..guess that shows why Sams Club always has samples!!

Michael headed back to work and I struck out for……you guessed it…..Carrefour!!!  We are a bit concerned that stores and restaurants might not be open this weekend so we wanted to stock up on a few things.

I approached from a different direction and passed an interesting shop that appeared to carry all sorts of stuff…..just my type of place!!!   I went in and realized that everything on one side of the store was one price….  9.9 Yuan.  So, as I found the British Pound Stretcher store in Edinburgh, I found the $US1.4559 store in Kunming.  I spent a full 30 minutes wandering around and looking at the treasures, and ended up buying a hammock-type metal basket that is used to hold fruit.  It will work great on our frig at home.  

The other side of the store held clothes, shoes, electronics, etc.  I had realized that the purse I had brought was not working well…..it didn’t have enough external, zippered pockets on it so it was almost impossible to find my cell phone or ANYTHING else when needed.    I found the perfect bag for only 39Y ($US5.74)!!!  It even has a cute little “blingy” thing hanging from it……

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I realized as I was heading to Carrefour that I couldn’t take my new purchases into the store, but I remembered seeing storage lockers in the mall area and I decided that it was time to learn how to use them.  I “read” the directions (fortunately there were pictures), and then watched a young woman open her locker.  She saw me watching and offered the locker to me, but I motioned her off.   I then went up the to same keypad, pushed the button that was supposed to give you a locker ….and…..nothing happened!!!!!.  The young woman had waited to watch me and now came over to help me.  It appears that the reason that it didn’t work was because there were no more empty lockers in that section, so we moved to another keypad……nothing happened again.  OK, I wasn’t feeling quite so stupid!!!!    At the third keypad (note the number 23 above it), she pushed the button and door number 8 popped open.    At the same time I small paper ticket emerged from the machine bearing the number 23,  the number 8 and a bar code.

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I thanked he, placed my previous purchases into the bin, closed the door, pocketed the slip of paper and headed to the store.   When I returned, I held the paper up to the scanner (note the red laser light) and Bin number 8 popped open again.  What a fun system!!!!!

There are signs showing that you shouldn’t take photos inside the store, but I pretended not to see those and used my I-phone to surreptitiously take photos anyway.  Here are a few things that I found……

The Chinese LOVE colors whether it is dishpans…..

IMG_0198…..shoes……  IMG_0197 …..or bras!!!

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They often accomplish their duties while squatting on the floor……..

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There are hundreds (an exaggeration, but you get the point) of types of toilet paper to choose from, although ironically you are not allowed to flush it down the toilets……IMG_0200 …..equally as many types of toothpaste…….

IMG_0201 The same holds for noodles……

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…..rice  (those big bags in the background are bags of rice)IMG_0207 …..and mushrooms…..

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Here are two grades of minced pork……the one on the right was lean, the left one was medium fat.  I cant imagine what the lower grade looked like!!!!!IMG_0215 

I was amazed to find a loaf of French bread in the bakery and also found some New Zealand Butter which became our meal for the evening……it was delicious although the bread needed some salt so we sprinkled a few grains onto the butter!!!

I picked up a few different types of snacks (still dont know exactly what they are but will report back as they are opened.  I even bought some Apricot “cakes”, which are really just a thick cookie.

All in all, it was a fun and profitable trip.

The evening was relaxed and we enjoyed sitting in our living room and listening to the outside sounds including kids playing, dogs barking and construction trucks loading dirt and rocks.   There is a large apartment complex (go figure) going up a couple of  blocks over and the men were still working hard when I went to bed at 10:00pm!!!

6 comments:

Simon De Vere said...

Hi Frances, we can't wait to see you next week. Re "The Four Pests", this public hygiene campaign was started by Mao in 1958 as a campaign against mosquitoes, flies, rats, and sparrows. (Sparrows were included on the list because it was believed at the time that they ate grain seeds). By early 1960, Chinese leaders realized that sparrows ate more insects than grains and Mao ordered the end of the campaign against sparrows, replacing them with "bedbugs". The later revival of the Four Pests campaigned against cockroaches so the current "4" are mosquitoes, flies, rats and cockroaches. See you both soon, Simon & Vera xxx

Karen said...

The locker system is brilliant. Wish we had that here in a few shopping centres! I was going to ask more about the 4 pests but then read the previous comment and all was answered. Fascinating!

Donna Rae said...

I could see some quilt patterns in the pictures of all of the colorful things in the "dollar store." lol Thanks for shaing your adventure. Steve said that the metal meal treys reminded him of his summer in South Korea, except he said that the chop sticks were metal too which made it much more difficult to pick up the rice. Would love to see pictures of the people exercising outside in the parks. I hear that the Chinese, especially the elderly ones are so good about exercising each and every day.

Linda said...

I am really enjoying your trip. Love the details and your clandestine photos! I often measure trips by the food so I appreciate your meal descriptions also!!

Frances Arnold said...

Thanks for the comment Linda. These travel blogs OFTEN end up as food journals!!!!

Marybeth said...

Try smashing the rice together a little bit before attempting to pick it up ... sometimes that will help!

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