Friday – Buying Pearls

Jon went to the office again and spent all day in meetings. They were so busy that he didn’t even get lunch. Larry scrounged up a cup of noodles for him.

I caught up with email and blogging, and then Sai took me to the knock-off market. It was tons of little stores in an underground station that sold (fake) name brand purses, belts, shirts, ties, cuff links, jeans, suitcases, scarves, wallets, shoes, watches, pirated DVDs and anything Chinese-looking. You have to bargain to get things. The first store we walked into, the girl said her best price on a purse was 780 yuan ($98.) You have to offer something really low, then keep saying it’s still too high when they counter offer. This goes on and on until you reach an agreement. Usually, you will have to walk away and let them call you back a few times. It was kind of weird at first, but then I really got into trying to see how low I could get stuff for. It’s such a big act – they act like they are losing so much money by giving it to you at that price, but you know it is totally an act. It is a big drama. It was really fun to get something for a super-low price that you didn’t really think they’d go for. I got the purse for 100 yuan instead ($13.)

We stopped at another subway station that was connected to a new mall. We have a 12 mm board inside and a big 23 mm outside. They don’t look great though – a couple problems with how the buildings designed the access to them. It was raining so we didn’t stay outside looking at it very long.

I went back to the hotel and Sai went home in the afternoon. After work, Ritchie and Gislain picked us up and we headed to the pearl market. The whole second floor of this building is pearls. All shapes, sizes and colors. Once again, you have to barter. Sai goes to one place where she knows the owner and gets good deals.

I wasn’t planning on buying anything, as Jon bought me a pearl necklace in Australia. The guys got a couple things for their girlfriends (after consulting our expert options). I thought maybe I should get a ring to match my necklace and some earrings too. The earrings have about 15 pearls each on them, but they are smaller and some are far from round. The ring has one nice big, round pearl on it. Both of them together were…. 25 yuan. That is $3.25. I couldn’t believe it.

I tried on a couple of different necklaces that were nothing like the one I already had. I didn’t really like any of them. Gislain handed me one that was three strands of pearls around the neck and many strands hanging down in a triangle, with aquamarine beads between each pearl. It was really beautiful and easily has over 100 pearls in it. I bartered it down to 80 yuan. $10. I would be very interested in knowing what it would go for in the States.

The four of us met Dan and Jon back at the hotel and walked to the Always Café. They have a nice selection of food and of drinks. The best part of the meal was dessert – I ordered a banana split that had three scoops of ice cream, whipped cream and a chocolate wafer.

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