Date Night Adventures

We used to go out to dinner and a movie on our date nights but watching a movie in chinese isn’t that fun it turns out so we still go out to dinner only now we come up with other activites to do and what better way is there to do a little exploring than when you don’t have the kids with you?  Here are a couple experiences worth remembering…

Anyone who knows me knows I love Costco.  Costco and Target are my bread and butter back in the states.  I don’t have either store here and the closest thing I’ve heard to a Costco Store is Metro.  Metro is an International Wholesale Cash & Carry store and I mean that literally.  You can only use cash (unless you have a chinese bank card) and you carry the items out in the shopping cart without bags.  I guess Costco does the same thing but at least they offer a box for your stuff.

If you have ever gone on a date to Costco you know the man isn’t there for groceries.  He’s only there to check out the electronics so by the time we are done with the electronics area my cart is full with items like a new fan for the house, a new iron (it doesn’t work so I get a whole different experience taking that back to the store), a backpack, and some clothes and shoes.  Greg tells me now he will just stand at the end of the isles while I grab any groceries I need.  Here I am juggling boxes of food weaving in and out of shoppers to find Greg.  Now it’s either walk through what looks like a meat packing plant or just head to the freezer section and find something already packaged.  This is where you decide if you want the chicken with the head on or off…

Luckily I found a package of just chicken breasts.  Our family just doesn’t eat spare parts.

Shopping at Metro only gets more interesting when we have a full shopping cart and we are waiting for about 20 minutes in line to purchase our items and I notice we are the only foreigners in sight so all eyes are on us and our giant load of groceries.  Most carts I notice only have 4 or 5 items in them. Some people stop and look through our cart.  Others just stare at you and a few people gather around the cashier to take bets on how much our stuff is going to cost.  This is where I wish I had a camera with me so I can take a picture of Greg’s face and the thousand people behind him staring in our direction.  We did come prepared this time with enough cash but my first trip here I didn’t know about the cash rule and when the cashier told me in Chinese that my credit card doesn’t work here I resort to asking my driver to come in and help me with the translation which ends with him paying for my groceries and me stopping at the ATM to get him enough cash to cover my expenses.  Sad thing is this trip is a twice a month experience.

Lotus Market

Another date we have done without the kids is checking out this famous place called the Lotus Wholesale Market.  The Lotus Market is the largest market in south-west China.  You’ll mostly find clothing, textiles, shoes, accessories, sporting goods, arts & crafts, and toys.  The quality and selection isn’t as good as what you would find in the U.S. but there is a lot of the same stuff everywhere so it’s easy to get lost because the shops all look the same to me.

This place is so big it takes at least one hour to walk around the perimeter and we didn’t even see all the different markets.  Don’t worry if you get tired walking around because there are motorcycle taxi drivers literally sitting around picking their noses waiting to give you a ride….

The shoe market was pretty amazing with guys carrying shoes from store to store but the sizes are too small for most of my family.


Pirated DVD’s

We like to watch movies and our Friday Pizza Movie night ritual has been hard to create in China because pizza is hard to find and it costs more and tastes different.  We do still watch movies every Friday night and since our entire collection of DVD’s was lost in the shipment we have resorted to buying DVD’s on the street.  China has the largest black market for DVD’s in the world and 9 out of 10 DVD’s sold here are pirated.  Cheap pirated movies can be found on the street just days after the movie is released in theatres.

From what I’ve learned China has a strict censorship policy making it nearly impossible for consumers in China to buy legal copies of American films because so few are approved for marketing.  There are so many bootleg DVD factories and so little enforcement of the law that it’s hard to make a case for legitimate DVD sales.  Last year box office receipts totaled a mere $1.5 billion in China whereas the bootleg copies totaled $6 billion.

To purchase illegal movies you need to find a dealer.  First you have someone who speaks Chinese take you to a dealer they trust, bargain for a good price and then next time you go they will always honor the price you agreed on so we pay about $1 per movie.

This is what I find funny…

We had our driver show us where to buy these DVD’s and he takes us to this computer store where they sell laptops only he nods to someone in the back and then we head to the dark corridor where there are steps that take us to another level and one of the doors is apparently the DVD shop.  After knocking on the door the locks are all open and we are admitted into the room.  The room is no bigger than a walk-in closet with floor to ceiling DVD’s and Music CD’s.  After you have paid for your DVD’s the dealer will check through the peep hole to make sure the coast is clear before exiting the building.

First time I went I felt like I was in some movie and no, Mom I’m not buying weed just DVD’s.  I’ll repent later I promise.


2 Comments on “Date Night Adventures”

  1. Robin says:

    Oh the picking of the nose! eeeeuuuu! I smile when I read your posts and yet I realize that there are probably many moments of not smiling. I am so amazed at all your stories and reminded to appreciated all that we take for granted. Glad you are keeping your date nights! Miss you like crazy!!!!

    • chinachatter says:

      Picking your nose in public is as common as peeing in the street and the constant spitting on the ground. It’s one of the culture things I can’t stand.

      Ethan will spit and say “what? that is what they do in China.” and I will have to say “That doesn’t make it right, stop doing it.”

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