First there was Hong Kong. We only shopped at one store while we were there. It was a jewelry store and of all the places we went I felt it came the closest to being a rip off. This store was filled with tons of varieties of precious and semi-precious jewelry. While I have a great weakness for all things shiny - I was not terribly tempted and I did not feel that the prices were a bargain. Of course we were all excited about to be parents, many of us for the first time and it was tempting to shop for our soon to be daughters. We did wind up purchasing two bracelets, a jade and malachite beaded one for me and a silver bracelet with polished stones for the hubby. We didn't purchase anything for the girls there.
In Nanchang we shopped at Wal Mart. We were able to get diapers, clothing (which we desperately needed since the girls were so tiny), two umbrella strollers and some snacks for a really good price. We were a little aggravated that we weren't able to get the same stroller that many of the others purchased because they ran out. We wound up with the lower quality stroller (but it was okay since one was broken our our flight to Guangzhou). It was fun and bit surreal shopping at a Wal Mart in China -so much was familiar and yet so much strange.
We also went to a porcelain store. It is the specialty of the providence and I really wanted to get them something special from Nanchang. The prices were good - we only purchased on tea set and I was sorry that we did, but it gives me a reason to go back. The porcelain was beautiful to look at - I wish we could have had more time to look at it all, but the girls were very restless. We didn't feel any pressure to buy anything.
In Guangzhou we did a lot more shopping. We went to a folk store where we purchased beautiful silks that wound up being the silks the girls wore for their "red couch" photo. We also purchased jade bangles for both girls, and jade Bi-Disks for all of us. We spent more money in this store than any other in China and yet it did not feel like it was over priced. We also went to the pearl market where we saw women sorting huge bags of pearls with pans that had holes for each mm size. They had rows upon rows of strings of pearls, in all sorts of colors and sizes. You purchased pearls by the strand with each strand making two bracelets or a necklace. There were many different grades of pearls and we purchased bracelets for the girls and a necklace for me. Watching the women string the pearls on silk was amazing -the speed with which they knotted each strand was fascinating to watch.
The rest of the shopping that we did was in the shops on Shamian Island. These shops were all owned by local merchants and it was clear that they all had made a livelihood out of catering to adoptive parents. Many of the shops also did laundry. We purchased several pairs of squeaky shoes, chops, wedding boxes, little drums, silks and various other items that we could give as gifts to family and friends when we returned home. The prices always seemed reasonable and you could always barter although we both (DH and I) didn't enjoy that aspect of shopping at all. Recent AP's say that most of the shops on Shamian Island are now gone. It's just another reminder of how much adoption in China has changed in a very short time.
Next: Thoughts on Our Journey: The Medical Exam