September 24th, 2010

The results of today’s trip to our local Carrefour were, as always, mixed. There were the usual crowds, though timing our trip for midday-ish seemed to moderate that eternally frustrating aspect of any Carrefour trip. Well, it’s not the crowds so much as the dopey twits that crowds contain. They were present today, of course, but in the usual proportion to the total crowd, so manageable.

We happened to come across the last 100% pure New Zealand wool quilt on sale, the one that had been put out on display. It was still clean, though, miraculous as that may seem, and so we got the woman in charge of quilts to get us a box and pack it up for us. 200 kuai, not bad. Especially considering there was a stack of Aussie wool quilts right next to it going for absurd prices. So tell me, what would you do? Snap up the last example of top quality product at a very good price, or go for the second rate product at a grossly inflated price? And yes, that question was motivated as much by trans-Tasman rivalry and my patriotic duty as anything else. And our quilt came with a free facecloth! Awesome!

Lamps? Forget it. Fortunately we’d already scoped out the B&Q next door and had noted one that a) looked cool; b) would serve our purposes exactly; and most importantly c) was reasonably priced. Want a desk lamp suitable for study? Fine. Anything else? Forget it.

In the queue to pay for our new quilt: Sheesh, I’m in the wrong line of work! Making baby products is the way to go. Really. And Carrefour is generally good at keeping the prices low, so I hate to think what the price tags on those things would’ve been in any other store. I guess we’re going to be spending the next 6 or so months scrimping and saving. I’m not worried about what comes after that, as I’m sure that from the end of March onwards, even if we have time, we won’t have the energy to waste money.

Downstairs and headed in my usual direction. Half-litre cans of Apostel Bräu Extra Strong (yes, on these cans ‘extra strong’ is written in English) at 9.9 kuai each. Best deal. Carlsberg cans of the same volume were cheaper, but that’s the local version, whereas the Apostel Bräu is imported from Germany and, as the cans proclaim, “GEBRAUT NACH DEM DEUTSCHEN RHEINHEITSGEBOT”. I’m not sure about the lack of an umlaut on the a in gebraut, but from what I remember (and it’s been a hell of a long time since I studied German, so corrections are more than welcome), umlauts are not needed on capitals, and it is all caps on the can. I really miss the days when our local Carrefour used to stock Greene King IPA, imported from England, half-litre cans at roughly the same price as this Apostel Bräu. Apostel Bräu is good, but the Greene King IPA was better, and I really loved having such a good brew available at such a reasonable price. Still, the Apostel Bräu is a good enough substitute, and better, I hate to say it, than the Malaysian-brewed bastardisation of Guinness.

I wish I could afford, or justify splashing out on, a Chimay…. Maybe for 满月.

The pizza in their deli looked good, but then we got home and reheated it (Carrefour’s just far enough to require reheating). So I spent a slightly delayed lunch slowly, patiently, frustratedly chewing through what felt and tasted like warm, stale rubber. Carrefour usually has passable product at reasonable prices, but in this case the product would have been better used as punishment for misbehaving kindergartners (you want to hit your classmate? I’ll make you chew Carrefour pizza if you do that again! – nah, perhaps a bit too cruel) and was grossly overpriced. If they want me to ever eat their pizza again, they’ll have to pay me 790 kuai per slice rather than charge me 7.9 kuai per slice.

And then a quick trip back to B&Q to pick up that lamp we need, and a mop, then home.

So we got most of what we needed, with the sole exception of light bulbs, which were forgotten amidst all the excitement, but still, yesterday’s shopping trip was far more successful. One trip in which we acquired exactly what we intended to for the prices we wanted to pay and managed to dispose of our old sofa-bed, albeit for considerably less than we would’ve liked, but hey, how much can you get for a broken-down old sofa-bed? And all of that happened within the space of an hour.

That was a quick trip to one of the bigger and more comprehensive of our local markets and a quick look round their furniture section. Beds came in three varieties: Superexpensive (but probably quite reasonable compared to regular furniture stores) all wood; expensive, but some lesser variety of wood; and cheap steel frame quickly and easily assembled. That third variety came at pretty much what we wanted to pay, and we had decided that we don’t need top quality, just good enough.

A quick check of the rest of the market revealed that, as I had expected, they didn’t have any lamps of the kind we were looking for, but they did have DVDs, so we stocked up on a few, and I made a mad dash for the nearest ATM. That was out of order, and I’m sure it’s because of the absurd amount of cash the guy in the queue ahead of me withdrew, so I made a mad dash for the second nearest ATM, then back to the market. Arrangements had been made for the delivery of the bed we bought, so we headed home, with the Mrs stopping off to see if our local recycler wanted our old sofa bed. He did. Price negotiated, sofa bed removed, the bed deliverer phoned to check our address. He arrived within a few minutes, and quickly assembled the new bed.

And all of this, apart for the bit where I lament the loss of Greene King IPA from the shelves of our local Carrefour, is because there is an imminent change, a rather permanent change, about to happen to our family. One that requires the retiring of our old sofa bed, which was fine when we had family crashing overnight or for a couple of days as they passed through Beijing, but is not suited to long term stays. A change that will require my mother in law to be here for rather longer than she has previously spent. A change that requires my wife to buy an ever larger wardrobe. A change that will require us to bite the bullet and spend bucketloads of money on all that expensive baby stuff we saw in Carrefour today. A change that is both exciting and utterly terrifying.

And so all this shopping is about us making some of the necessary rearrangements. I do have to say, our apartment looks a lot more like a family home now.

8 Responses to “shopping”

  1. jdmartinsen Says:

    Geez. Now I’ve got to make time to go to Carrefour for some imported beer!

    Also, congrats on the upcoming changes!

  2. wangbo Says:

    Cheers, mate.

    But Carrefour’s only good for imported beer for those on a tight budget, and that seems to depend very much on the branch. Just so you know, my local Carrefour is the Shuangjing branch, which is actually closer to the Jiulongshan or Zhujiang Dijing bus stops on Xidawang Lu than it is to the Shuangjing interchange on the East 3rd Ring. Just saying, in case you want some 9.9 kuai half-litre cans of Apostel Bräu.

  3. Brendan Says:

    Congratulations — how very exciting!

    Re: Carrefour and beers — it’s been a long time since I last went, but the Guozhan Carrefour (which I think is closest to Joel) used to stock Greene King IPA and other such beers. This information is current circa 2008 (or maybe -9; I’m not sure), so things may have changed, but they did seem to have a slightly better beer selection than the Shuangjing Carrefour.

  4. wangbo Says:

    Cheers, Brendan.

    Greene King IPA disappeared from the shelves of the Shuangjing Carrefour towards the end of 2009, or early 2010, so I wouldn’t hold out any hope for any branch of Carrefour. But yeah, Shuangjing’s selection has always been limited. It’s just the closest I’ve got.

  5. John Says:

    Congratulations from me as well. Start saving your pennies.

    Our local Carrefour has Stella, Boddies, and Old Speckled Hen (sometimes; the one in the Fortune Centre in Chengdu had to my surprise), as well as the usual assortment of Belgian and German weiß beers, but I don’t recall ever seeing any IPA, but the place can be quirky and there might be some there tomorrow.

  6. wangbo Says:

    Thank you, John.

    We used to get Old Speckled Hen up here, too, but that disappeared long ago. Boddies too, but I didn’t see it there the other day. I hope that’s just a temporary situation. Stella was there, but the selection of imported brews seems to be slowly shrinking up at Shuangjing.

  7. Jocelyn Says:

    Just wanted to wish you Congratulations on the “change” in your family!

  8. wangbo Says:

    Thank you, Jocelyn.