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Showing posts with label Shopping Culture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Shopping Culture. Show all posts

Monday, December 31, 2018

A Game of Xiangqi, a Shop, and a Look Back at 2018's Travels

Soon 2018 will be over in China. For the last post of the year here, it would be hard to top one with another photo of people playing xiangqi. This evening on Mazhou Street (麻洲街) in Zhongshan I stumbled upon a lively game:

men playing a game of xiangqi on Mazhou Street (麻洲街) in Zhongshan, China


The player wearing red slippers had to temporarily leave the game. After all, nobody else was around to take payments at the small convenience store across the street.

small convenience store on Mazhou Street (麻洲街) in Zhongshan, China


For me 2018 began in Taipei, from where in mid-February I made my way to Jiangmen in Guangdong province via Macau and Zhuhai. I spent two months in Jiangmen and of course saw some xianqi games — whether they were during the Lunar New Year or accompanied by various forms of smoking. Then I headed to Yunfu where I explored wonderful karst topography and a historical street. Next, in Zhaoqing I also explored much history and nature. Getting caught up on other matters meant I haven't yet shared much about the city here, though at least I managed to share my impression of the wonton's at a restaurant there with a logo rather similar to McDonald's. Similarly, I didn't manage to post much about Qingyuan, where I saw a rainbow for the first time in a while.

Next I returned to a familiar location, Guangzhou, whose towers provided a stark contrast with my previous recent locations. Then it was on to Hong Kong where I caught some FIFA World Cup football in a mall and, of course, more xiangqi. After Hong Kong, I returned to the land of the Great Firewall and had some peculiar problems using some sites it blocks while I was in Shenzhen, though at least my location had a striking view. I had growing suspicions the issue was quite local. In fact, my problems were resolved after arriving in Huizhou, although the problems were only growing for some ducks there. Once again, catching up on matters and such led to me blogging very little about a city. But such was not the case when I made my way Ganzhou in Jiangxi province. During nearly two months there, I observed much burning during the Hungry Ghost Festival, more rainbows, and, yes, more xiangqi — both during the day and at night.

I then traveled from Ganzhou to Zhuhai by bus, and I finally found some Hot Chicken Wing and Wasabi Oreos to try. After Zhuhai, I moved on to yet another familiar city, Zhongshan, where I have been since. Left out of this account are various days trips I made to Macau, one of which allowed me to see the Macau Lunar New Year Festival.

Personally, some of the most unexpected parts of the year for me was the amount of time I spent in Guangdong province and that I never made it farther north than Ganzhou. On several occasions I planned heading much farther north, including to Shijiazhuang in Hebei province and relatively nearby locations, but life is complex — sort of like a game of xiangqi.

There is so much from the past year I still want to share and write about. Hopefully at least some of that happens later. But now, I will spend the last half hour of 2018 by exploring a tiny bit more.  

Friday, December 28, 2018

Apples, Trees, and Santa Hats: More Christmas Scenes from Zhongshan, China

During this blog's life, I have shared Christmas scenes from a variety of cities in China such as, in chronological order, Wuhan, Putian, Quanzhou, Zhangzhou, Hong Kong, and Wenzhou. The Wuhan post includes general information about the holiday in China that still largely holds. To complement the scenes of a Christmas Midnight Mass in Zhongshan I recently witnessed this year, below I will share a set of photos capturing some other aspects of how the holiday was celebrated in Zhongshan, even if just for fun with little or no religious connotation. The post isn't as extensive as many of the earlier posts and none of the displays I saw were as elaborate as the somewhat surreal Star Wars Christmas display at a mall in Shanghai several years ago. But they offer a peak at the holiday in yet another city in China.

Not at all surprising, one of the first signs of the holiday I noticed on Christmas Eve night were two young women setting up a display of traditional-in-China Christmas apples in decorative boxes for sale.

young woman setting up a display of Christmas apples in Zhongshan


I wondered about their choice of location in the midst of a small informal night market in front of Fuye Square. All I can say is that just as I was about to walk away they already had potential customers.

young men looking at Christmas apples for sale in Zhongshan


Not very far away on the Qijiang Bridge, I saw more people selling Christmas apples.

Christmas apples for sale on Qijiang Bridge in Zhongshan


At the time they were keeping an eye out for relevant authorities some other vendors thought soon might be on the way to stop such activities.

On the other side of the bridge, the Central Power Plaza shopping mall had a large Christmas tree outside.

Christmas tree at Central Power Plaza in Zhongshan, China


Unsurprisingly, it was a popular location to take photos, including for a group of women wearing Santa hats.

people taking photographs next to a Christmas tree


On the nearby Sun Wen West Road Pedestrian Street, more Santa hats could be found.

two young women wearing Santa hats while walking on the Sun Wen West Road Pedestrian Street in Zhongshan


On Christmas Day, I stopped by Lihe Plaza. In addition to the Christmas tree outside, there were also giant reindeers and a Santa Claus above the main entrance to the shopping mall.

Christmas tree and giant reindeers and Santa Claus at Lihe Plaza in Zhongshan


In one open air pedestrian area there was a market set up with a theme mixing Christmas and Pihotrain — a young Shenzhen-based company with Disney-like ambitions.

Pihotrain Christmas market at Lihe Plaza in Zhongshan, China


Most of the vendors in the market were similar to those I have seen in the same location when the market has had other themes. But at least one vendor added a Christmas touch with decorations.

vendor stall with Santa-themed decorations


And one vendor even added Christmas apples to their selection.

vendor selling jewelry and Christmas apples


We're back to the apples, so this seems like a good time to say, yet again, "that is all", at least for Zhongshan. Some day / year I hope to share past Christmas scenes that never made it here from at least two cities not mentioned above. Until then, enjoy the apples.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Choosing Produce at Two Hypermarkets in Zhongshan

A woman selecting apples one weekday afternoon at the Carrefour in the Xinyue Dasin Metro-Mall (新悦大信新都会):

woman choosing apples at a Carrefour in Zhongshan, China



A woman selecting tomatoes later the same afternoon about 15 km (about 9 miles) away at the Walmart in the Sunshine Mall (太阳城):

woman choosing tomatoes at a Walmart in Zhongshan, China


The surroundings of the two hypermarkets contrast much more the settings inside them. More about that another day.

In the meantime, happy produce hunting.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Toys "R" Us Has Its Own Brand of Bottled Water in China

Only two days after its Halloween sale ended on October 31, a Toys "R" Us store in Zhongshan, China, began its Singles Day sale. So would the store begin another holiday sale two days after Singles day on November 11?

I briefly stopped by the store on November 13, and the answer was "no". There wasn't a sale of any variety.

Personally, I found something satisfying in seeing the store sale-free. Perhaps having zero intent to buy anything was a factor. Perhaps it was because I had wondered if they would have already started a seemingly inevitable Christmas sale.

But at least there was still something new which intrigued me, though it might be something I just didn't notice before. To be honest, I haven't ever memorized the store's full inventory.

So, without further ado, here is Toys "R" Us Pure Water:

Toys "R" Us bottled water in China


The 330 ml bottles of water sell for 3 yuan (currently about U.S. 43 cents) each or 5 yuan for two. For comparison, 500 ml bottles of two popular brands of water — one spring water and the other purified water — commonly sell for 2 yuan each at convenience stores in Zhongshan. And cheaper prices can be found at grocery stores.

In the past, Toys "R" Us sold Babies "R" Us Purified Baby Water by the gallon. It included minerals intended to make it better for mixing with infant formula. And Toys "R" Us Canada currently sells Ice River Springs Nursery Water. But what is sold at the Toys "R" Us in Zhongshan is just regular purified water bottled in Jiading, Shanghai. So why would Toys "R" Us sell it? And why would people spend more for it?

I asked a store employee why they were selling water and didn't get anything more meaningful than "no reason". Well, Toys "R" Us most likely does have reasons. It is possible some people desire it and are willing to pay more because of the colorful label or the branding. But other more pragmatic explanations are also possible. For example, Toys "R" Stores I have visited in China typically have some open toys set out such as building blocks that typically involve longer term interactions. Now a parent can take care of their thirst or their child's without needing to the leave the fun. So, there's the possibility of both increased happiness and increased sales.

Whatever the motivations, out of due diligence I sacrificed 3 yuan so I could do a taste test. I can report that Toys "R" Us Pure Water tastes just like water.

I don't expect to buy another bottle. No reason why.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Christmas Trees and Not Quite Thermal Underwear: Signs of the Season at a Walmart in Zhongshan, China

While some retailers in China have moved on from promotions for Halloween to ones for the upcoming Singles Day, others are already bringing attention to holidays more distant in the future. For example, at Zhongshan's only Walmart* Christmas-themed items are now on sale.

Christmas trees for sale at a Walmart in Zhongshan, China


Christmas items for sale at a Walmart in Zhongshan, China


Christmas items for sale at a Walmart in Zhongshan, China


The items immediately greet customers when they enter the store. And near them are indications that although daytime temperatures are still reaching into the low 80s (high 20s in Celsius) the weather in in Zhongshan will get chillier.

jackets on display under "thermal underwear" signs at a Walmart in Zhongshan


However, I don't think those jackets count as thermal underwear. Just to be clear, the problem here isn't one of translation but of categorization. Good luck to anybody trying to wear those jackets under their clothes.

And finally, snow is extremely uncommon in Zhongshan, and rain remains a possibility during winter months. So of course Walmart sells umbrellas as well.

scarves on display under an "umbrellas" sign at a Walmart in Zhongshan


Once again, good luck.




*Not long ago there was another Walmart store, but it is now no more.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Fruit For Sale as Usual in Zhongshan

fruit stand at night in Zhongshan, China
Fruit stand on Halloween night

Although it wasn't too hard to find signs of the holiday on Halloween night at some shopping centers, bars, and even convenience stores in Zhongshan, in most places life went on like any other day. And if you wanted some candy, or some fruit, saying "Trick or treat!" wouldn't help very much.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Black Dumplings, Gourds, and a Meaty Mannequin: Halloween Spirit in Zhongshan, China

In past years I have shared Halloween-related scenes from cities such as Taipei in 2011, Changsha in 2012, Shaoguan in 2015, Shenyang in 2016, and most recently Changsha again in 2017. The posts have numerous photos of people in costumes, promotions, and food. Perhaps some day I will fill in some of what I missed sharing here, which includes Halloween experiences in Dalian, Shanghai, and Zhuhai. But for now I will share a sample of what I saw in Zhongshan, since it is where I spent Halloween this year.

One of the earliest signs of Halloween I came across was a promotion at 7-Eleven stores which began weeks before the holiday. Yes, I gave the three black cuttlefish items a try.

Halloween black cuttlefish foods at 7-Eleven in Zhongshan, China


The dumplings were tasty with some Sriracha-style sauce, but a couple of them were rather soggy. The sausage was too dried out. The cuttlefish balls were OK. None of it was as good as the black spidery pizza I tried at Pizza Hut in Shenyang two years ago. At least 7-Eleven had a special price for getting the three together. Not all the items were specially made for Halloween, but the dumplings are now gone.

To wash down all of that cuttlefish ink, 7-Eleven had a special Halloween deal on . . . Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey lemonade and cola drinks of course.

7-Eleven sign for Halloween sale of Jack Daniel's drinks


Moving on . . .

Three years ago I saw a Halloween display at n RT-Mart in Shaoguan. This year in Zhongshan, RT-Mart kept up the Halloween spirit.

Display of Halloween items for sale at an RT-Mart in Zhongshan


Display of Halloween items for sale at an RT-Mart in Zhongshan


Their selection possibly surpassed what was available at a Toys "R" Us in Zhongshan. Also, the display had a dark area inside of it where glowing items could be tested.

children playing with toys inside a display of Halloween items for sale at an RT-Mart in Zhongshan


A Carrefour in Zhongshan similarly had Halloween items for sale.

Display of Halloween items for sale at a Carrefour in Zhongshan, China


Carrefour took it up another notch, though, with a Halloween gourd display.

Halloween display of gourds for sale at a Carrefour in Zhongshan, China


The Shiqi Dasin Metro-Mall had a Halloween-themed food fair as part of celebrations for the one year anniversary of its newest section.

Halloween-themed inflated arch at the Shiqi Dasin Metro-Mall in Zhongshan, China


Several nights before Halloween, the fair was packed.

Halloween food fair at the Shiqi Dasin Metro-Mall in Zhongshan, China


None of the food itself was any different from what could appear at any other food fairs, but at least one of the sellers was in the holiday spirit.

man wearing a caveman costume


There was also occasional dancing.

young women dancing


On Halloween day there were a variety of activities. The Lihe Plaza shopping mall appeared prepared for a musical performance, but I didn't stick around to listen.

Stage with a halloween theme at Lihe Plaza


One popular gathering area that night was the central outdoor area at the Central Power Plaza shopping mall, where there were several people painting faces as part of a promotion.

people gathered for Halloween activities at Central Power Plaza in Zhongshan


By 10 p.m on Halloween night at the Shiqi Dasin Metro-Mall, many of the vendors at the food fair had already packed up and departed. But even with a now sagging arch, there were still photographic opportunities.



Some bars, including one at the mall, also got into the holiday spirit. In part because most are far separated from one another, I didn't bother with a pub crawl — so no photos. I also won't be sharing a set of photos of people dressed up for the holiday. See the earlier posts for plenty of those. But here's one of a pirate sitting at McDonald's on Halloween night:

young woman wearing a pirate hat sitting at McDonald's in Zhongshan, China


Finally, for the first time ever I will award a winner (of what I happened to see) for best Halloween spirit. Carrefour wins hands down. No, the Halloween items for sale or the glorious gourds aren't what led to this special distinction.

Instead, I introduce the Halloween Dried Meats Witch:

female mannequin dressed in dried meats and wearing a Halloween witch hat


Perhaps that will become a popular costume for next year.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Only a Few Halloween Jack-O'-Lantern Buckets Left at Toys "R" Us in Zhongshan

More than three weeks ago a Toys "R" Us in Zhongshan already had out its Halloween display. It remained in place this afternoon, but there were noticeably fewer items available — suggesting the Toys "R" Us has made more than a few Halloween sales.

Halloween items for sale at a Toys "R" Us in Zhongshan, China


The small jack-o'-lantern buckets seemed to have especially been a hit.

More about the Halloween holiday in Zhongshan later. It's now time for me to see some of what Halloween night is like here.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Straight from National Day to Halloween: Another Toys "R" Us Promotion in China

The month-long National Day holiday promotion Toys "R" Us held in China, which featured deals on toys such a Nerf guns and Hamsters in a House, ended yesterday. Today, a Toys "R" Us store in Zhongshan hadn't skipped a beat and had already moved on to the next great thing: Halloween.

"Halloween Headquarters" sign at Toys "R" Us in Zhongshan, China


Most of the related items appeared to be on a single rack sitting at the front entrance of the store.

Halloween items for sale at Toys "R" Us in Zhongshan, China


Halloween items for sale at Toys "R" Us in Zhongshan, China


Halloween items for sale at Toys "R" Us in Zhongshan, China


I wasn't at all surprised by the Halloween promotion or it lasting from October 9 to October 31. After all, I've seen more impressive displays of Halloween items for sale before, including at an RT-Mart in Shaoguan. And last year in Zhongshan I saw a promotion running during the same period of time. That one was a bit more surprising, though, since it featured a Halloween sale on cosmetics.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

New China Gold in Ganzhou

Preparations for a new jewelry store in Ganzhou
Late night work for a new jewelry store on Dongyangshan Road in Ganzhou





Correction: I previously captioned the photo indicating the jewelry store was China Gold, in part due to the apparent CG acronym in the logo. However, it isn't a China Gold store. More about that in a more recent post here.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

A South Dakotan Dinosaur at the IFC Mall in Hong Kong

While you can now hear occasional loud roars at a mall in Kwun Tong, Hong Kong, showing live World Cup football matches late into the night, you probably won't hear any roars at the IFC Mall in Central, Hong Kong. Given what is currently on display there, that is probably a good thing.

compllete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton on display at the IFC in Hong Kong




According to a sign, the complete adult Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton is 12 meters long and was found in South Dakota, U.S.A. The IFC Mall's website indicates the skeleton is 30% fossil bone and 70% polyurethanes fossil cast (see the blog Dinosaurpalaeo for some motivations for using either fossil bones or casts).

If the dinosaur were to somehow magically turn into its former living self, according to recent research there is at least one thing people no longer need to worry about. The Tyrannosaurus rex wouldn't be sticking out its tongue at people:
Dinosaurs couldn't stick out their tongues like lizards. Instead, their tongues were probably rooted to the bottoms of their mouths in a manner akin to alligators.

Researchers from The University of Texas at Austin and the Chinese Academy of Sciences made the discovery by comparing the hyoid bones—the bones that support and ground the tongue—of modern birds and crocodiles with those of their extinct dinosaur relatives. In addition to challenging depictions of dino tongues, the research proposes a connection on the origin of flight and an increase in tongue diversity and mobility.
To catch the T. Rex at the IFC Mall (and to imagine it catching you despite its tongue limitations) visit the mall no later than June 27. It is a rare opportunity to see a Hong Kong mall featuring something from South Dakota.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

A Large Crowd at a Hong Kong Mall Watches Japan Defeat Colombia in an Historic World Cup Match

This evening at the apm shopping mall in Kwun Tong, Hong Kong, I heard a loud roar. Important context: loud roars aren't the norm at shopping malls in Hong Kong. I soon went out into the central area of the mall and saw that a large crowd had gathered.

crowd watching soccer match at the apm shopping mall in Hong Kong


Their main objective wasn't to roar but instead to watch a FIFA World Cup football ("soccer" for some of us) match between Colombia and Japan. When I arrived Japan was up by one goal. Presumably the one score in the game is what led to the magnificent roar I had heard.

crowd watching 2018 FIFA World Cup football match at the apm shopping mall in Hong Kong


The football-related festivities also included an area where people could play a football video game. The machines were hidden away, but based on the controls I think they were PlayStations.

playing soccer video game at apm Hong Kong


Nearby, though I don't think formally part of the apm promotion, people could play football on an Xbox as well.

playing soccer on XBOX at apm Hong Kong


And if that wasn't enough, there were signed jerseys of famous past football players on display.

Signed Pele and Maradona jerseys


I hadn't planned to spend much of my night at the mall, but after I saw Colombia tie the game I decided to stick around longer. Japan scored one more goal and held out for a remarkable win:
This scoreline was particularly unexpected in light of the fact that Japan had changed coaches shortly before the tournament, and because no Asian team had ever previously defeated a South American side in 17 World Cup meetings.

Japan celebrating live on video at apm Hong Kong


The event at apm was also remarkable to me since I have seen and experienced plenty of anti-Japanese sentiment in mainland China. But based on reactions, shirts, and flags, the Hong Kong crowd included supporters for both teams. I think Japan even enjoyed a solid edge in support.

More games are ahead. The immediate slate occur each day at 8 p.m., 11 p.m., and 2 a.m. local time. Staff at the mall insisted Apm will be open to show them all. This isn't extremely surprising since Apm is already known for its late night hours. I left the mall shortly after Japan won. So I can only imagine how many will watch Russia face Egypt there at 2 a.m. tonight.