Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A bewildering experience...

With last night being our final night in Yunnan and a 25 hour train ride on the horizon, I was sent off in search of groceries for our commute to SE China and Hong Kong.  The nice lady at the front desk of our hotel had given me two options; the Carrefour (for those Stateside, a huge French chain) that was a healthy hike away from the hotel or the "wor" supermarket on the opposite side of the block.  Wanting to keep my walking to a minimum as well as my enjoyment in checking out local businesses, I headed off in search of the "wor".
After about a mile and a half (LONG block) I neared the corner and saw a sports store.  Of course, this being me I had to go in.  As I weaved my way through the endless workers on duty, I saw that the other entrance emptied out into... the Supermarket!
Properly excited (on a trip like this, it is the little things) I walked in, picked up a basket and started off.  Only to be rebuffed by the escalator going the other way.  And the endless supply of Chinese folks coming down it.  Ah, I must be trying to enter through the exit...  So as I headed towards the proper entrance I got a glimpse of someone's bag of groceries.  Right then I froze up and was horrified...
Yes, I was in Wal-Mart.  I don't shop at Wal-Mart at home (Costco on the other hand...).  Never mind their nefarious business practices, I just don't like the place.  But with a promise of bringing back actual food for our train trip lingering overhead, I took a deep breath and entered.
In short, let's just say I'm very glad we're not going directly home after this portion of the trip.  The simple sight of fresh groceries, a butcher and even fresh vegetables sent my head spinning.  Throw in the Chinese workers having blue light specials on such high end items as watermelon and doughnuts (damn Passover restrictions) and the endless rows of consumer goods and it was just too much.  Somehow I think reentering the western world via the quiet tranquility of a New Zealand and Australia winter will be a much needed transition period.  Now if only we can survive Hong Kong between now and then...
PS Posts on Tiger Leaping Gorge and random stories from China to come.   

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