So Paul is in Washington D.C. this week. For work. (And work seems to involve an endless string of dinner parties with old friends, neighbors and colleagues.) Yes, it is hard work.
Paul's trip to D.C. reminds me about one of the oddities of life in China. In the country that gives name to "made in China," it can sometimes be hard to buy things at a reasonable price.
Sure, if you go to the markets and bargain hard, you can get good prices and some knock-off items for a few dollars or euros. But if you want to buy quality, it can be hard to find and often things are much more expensive than in the U.S.
To give you an idea, here are some items on my wish list for Paul to buy in the U.S.:
- Kids' shampoo - Shampoo is either expensive here, or it's a brand that makes you think your hair might turn green or fall out.
- Over-the-counter medicine - At the doctor's office we can get any medicine that we might need, but for over-the-counter things (tylenol, paracetamol, etc.) I put more faith in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration than in their Chinese counterpart. It just seems safer to buy in the U.S. (Plus, you can read the directions.)
- Lego and other toys - Lego is available here, but at a much higher price. Many other cheap toys fall apart or break within the first hour of play (see also this blog post). I asked Paul to just go to the toystore and see what games and toys are around these days.
- Contact lens fluid - My preferred brand seems not to be available in China. Weirdly enough in the stores I only see fluids for soft contact lenzes, and in any case not the one that I want. So we buy it in bulk and ask friends to bring it when they visit!
While Paul already has been shopping in the Leesburg Outlet Mall, last Saturday I actually had to go to a shopping mall close to us to get some shoes for Simon (who had accidentally exchanged his shoes at school for a smaller size shoe and now literally has no shoes to wear- poor boy). Here are some pictures from that mall. It's made to look like an American outlet mall, and I think they might have actually used the Leesburg Mall as the model!
Just like Leesburg, VA (in the U.S.) except for the Chinese people in the picture.
If you are tired from shopping...
I can't believe they actually haven't invited this kind of transport at a U.S. mall. (Or have they??)
Leesburg or Beijing?
Kun - Teng - Kou - Frei - Chi - Kun
OK, I just made that up.
Isn't that an oxymoron? "Armani Outlet"?
Brooks Brothers is also present. (This is a common store in U.S. outlet malls. I am not sure if it's also in The Netherlands?)
More to come...
In het nederlands: winkelen in China valt niet altijd mee. Je moet onderhandelen over de prijs en de kwaliteit laat het vaak afweten. Jasjes voor de kinderen zijn bijvoorbeeld goedkoop, maar dan vallen wel de knopen eraf na een week en de rits gaat een paar keer stuk. Je hebt tandpasta van een paar cent (die we dan niet vertrouwen) of van bijna een tientje.
Vandaag ging ik schoenen kopen met Simon en liep een half uurtje rond op deze Amerikaans uitziende winkelbuurt. Paul is nu in Amerika, in Washington, D.C., en deze Chinese winkelbuurt lijkt echt op een outlet mall vlakbij Washington waar Paul gisteren was. Ik heb Paul een boodschappenlijstje meegegeven voor wat dingen die hier niet makkelijk te krijgen zijn.