Friday, October 31, 2008
Confucian Temple? Try maps and earphones. (5:21pm illustrated)
I went on my first lone trek around Shanghai today.
It's an intimidating city. No surprises there.
I wanted to go to a Confucian temple. I knew it was nearby, because I saw it on a map. But, that was out of date (a lot has changed since 2006), and we needed a new one, so my first mission was to find a tourist map. I've found several – all in Chinese. Not exactly much help when part of the reason you need a tourist map is because you don't speak Chinese.
Silver lining, though – I think I learnt the Chinese word for map. Or, at least, the word that all the vendors seem to understand – ma̅-pù (apologies if that doesn't turn out right – accent marks are an important part of transcribing Chinese into Pinyin).
(turns out, not the Chinese word for map. Maybe next time.)
Also had another adventure, of sorts. I went into a computer market. Pushiest. Salespeople. Ever.
I remembered that I was really looking for some noise-cancelling earphones. So, I decided to purpose myself – and came across some earphones. Figuring that there had to be noise-cancellers around somewhere, I came across some in a short order.
They had no idea what I wanted. Turns out, talking slower and clearer in a language that they only functionally understand doesn't help much. Shock.
Until, that is, I pulled some earphones out of my pocket. Then they stopped thinking that I needed another laptop (or something) and we got to talking. They pulled out a pair of Sony earphones and told me that it would be 380 yuan.
For the Australians out there, that's about A$90. Unsurprisingly, I looked at them like they'd just kicked the cat.
It was an instinctive reaction. See, I hadn't realised, but I was actually in a bargaining-accepted place. I had been told previously, however, that in a bargaining situation, the first price is just an opening offer. Once I said 'no, no way' and they said 'well, how much do you want it for then?', I realised my position and changed my tack. Slightly.
I offered 200 yuan (A$50). They mocked it and talked about 330 yuan. I stuck to my guns, and said 'that's okay, I'll just go somewhere else'.
There are a number of countries that do bargaining. I've been in Mexico and seen it done by my father (who took to it like a proverbial duck to water), and now I'm in China. Turns out, neither country wants you to take your business elsewhere, and both are quite happy to provide substantial discounts when your counter-offer is 'no deal'.
His last price was 300. He became my friend all of a sudden, and offered $280. I took two steps away. Suddenly, my new best friend offered $230. No dice. 200 it was.
Last price my butt.
Then I walked back down the street to the cool cafe I went to on my first night here. Nice place, called Unicolor (full endorsements). I ordered an ice chocolate (which, btw, is awesome, as per usual) and settled down to blog my day and read my textbook.
Confucian temples will have to wait.
(As I left, I saw the best No Smoking sign ever. Ever.)