Shenzhen 2011, Day 8: Madness, pure madness

Today, for the first time on my trip, I did not set foot inside a sporting venue. However, it may have proved to be my most dramatic day in Shenzhen so far.

Everyone’s heard, if you’re in China, you have to go shopping. So today I finally decided to see if there’s any truth to this rumour.

Spoiler alert: there is.

I went to a shopping centre about a 15-minute cab ride away from hotel (which was free, for reasons I’m still not quite sure about), with the main goal of getting a tailored suit.

I got my suit. Custom made for about $110 Canadian.

But there were so many more deals to be had. Custom made dress shirts for less than $50 Canadian a pop. Nice Leather belts for $20. Bose headphones (which had to be knockoffs) for less than $30.

It’s all true. Everything you’ve ever heard about shopping in China. My only problem: I drastically underestimated how much I was going to want to buy and didn’t take out enough Yuan (Chinese currency).

Another thing that’s just as prevalent as you hear it is in China: haggling. And the Chinese take it seriously.

It was amazing how quickly the seamstress doing my measurements changed from telling me how much she loves Canada to being a stone cold businesswoman, refusing to go lower. I got her to throw in a tie for free, so I’m proud of myself.

A tip I got before coming here that 100 per cent works: threatening to walk away.

Once I was out of money, I still wandered the market, just exercising my bartering muscles and I got into an intense battle with a man trying to sell me a pair of shoes. He initially said 200 Yuan, I refused to go higher than 75. He came down to 100, I started walking away and he legitimately chased me down the narrow corridor of stores (these shopping centres are laid out like hedge mazes) and said, “OK, 75 is OK.”

It was quite awkward when I had to tell him I actually had no money.

Happy with my purchases and whatever little financial help my clumsy bargaining skills may have given me, I returned to my hotel for what was supposed to be a brief stop. But in five minutes I somehow managed to get tangled up in my computer cord, knocking my laptop off the desk, breaking the end of my power cord.

(Anyone who knows me, knows my history with power cords.)

After a brief pause, I realized “I’m in China,” headed up the street to an electronics market and 30 Yuan (less than $5 Canadian) later, my computer was functional again.

Now this electronics market. Picture this: Five floors of tiny booth after tiny booth selling just about anything you need to build a computer, TV, radio and probably some crazy technological gadget I don’t even know about.

And of course, the prices were cheap, but the knockoffs were more obvious.

iPads that didn’t quite look like iPads for about $350 Canadian, “refurbished” laptops for $200 and (what I’m not entirely sure was plasma) TVs for $300.

As I left the electronics market, a thought dawned on me. I’ve seen the other side of eBay.