When we let Mom know we were moving to Shanghai, she had two things to say to Chris.
1) If anything happens to my daughter, I will hurt you. (Only the word was not hurt).
2) If you go to Shanghai, you need to buy pearls!
I didn’t want to disappoint, so today Chris and I headed to the Pearl Market.
Shanghai's Hongqaio Pearl Market is one of the prettiest tourist trap/ shopping areas I have ever seen. The first floor contained your basic knock off purses, silk scarves, and trinket booths.
The second floor is a place I called Mama heaven. From the moment I stepped off the elevator all I could see were pearls, jade, and vendors who were more than happy to sell me the goods!
For 2 hours, I bounced from vendor to vendor, perusing pearls and snagging souvenirs. The exchanges with the vendor would typically go something like this.
Vendor: You want to buy pearls? Jade?
Me: I am just looking. May I see this? (At this time I would point at the bauble.)
Vendor: You like this? If you want something different, I make it for you.
Me: How much is this?
(At this point, the vendor grabs her 80’s Casio Calculator and types in her alleged final offer.)
Vendor: This is my final offer.
Me: Tài guile! (Too expensive).
At this point I mentally thank Jie, our mandarin tutor for teaching me this phrase during our second lesson.
The salesperson then looks at us with mock outrage.
Vendor: How much you want to spend?
The vendor then slides the calculator over to me. I enter a price that is ridiculously low.
From this point on we exchanged multiple rounds of “you are crazy”, “how about this”, “will you be buying anything else”, “I will bring my friends here when they visit” and “please please, please” and punched offers on the calculator.
Once we settled on a price, the real fun began. I selected the exact pearls I wanted on my necklace, and became mesmerized by the vendor hand tying my necklace, earrings, or bracelet one pearl at a time. Five minutes later, I had my own work of art!
When all was completed, I handed the vendor some Yuan, felt the side of Mao’s head on my change to ensure it is not counterfeit, and repeated the process with the next vendor.
Welcome to paradise, Shopaholics!