To the Supermarket we go
It has been a couple of weeks since my arrival here. I am finally venturing out a bit. I’ve been to a couple of supermarkets, the post office and a shopping mall. One of the places Tai shops is located about a mile away by foot. It is amazing the distance she walks to go grocery shopping. And of course when you are walking, there is only but so much you can carry at a time. Ouya’s is a three-story building called “Ouya Supermarket.” It is the one she normally goes to I believe. Walking from Tia’s home and going about a 100 yards up as slight incline puts us on Huguang Rd. Turning left we have a straight walk for about a mile to the Ouya grocery store, which is on the other side of a major expressway (Western Expressway). You will hear me mention walking often in my updates. Simply because it is how many Chinese people get around. While there are plenty people driving cars there is still a slew of people walking. Forgive me if I rant occasionally about the walking. I am missing my car already. Believe me I wish these legs and feet could endure walking around like they used to. Maybe they will with time, exercise (walking), and losing weight. However, right now for me, walking is a challenge because of the neuropathy in my feet and lower legs. Therefore, walking a significant distance causes pain in my feet, plus my balance is not that steady lately. I am praying for healing and strength in these old legs as I get back to simply walking everywhere. There are many street vendors
Along the way to the supermarket, we pass a few areas that I found intriguing. Many little shops line segmented portions of Huguang Rd. I saw small, simple family run restaurants, places to buy produce items for cooking, get things repaired, and some shops I did not know just by looking at them. However, it was the diverse street vendors that caught my eye the most. Men boiling peanuts, selling baked rotisserie chicken in a portable baking unit, and men getting haircuts on the sidewalk. There were people with blankets spread along the edge of the sidewalk with displays of odds and ends from used kitchen utensils, nick knacks, cell phones, along with many items I believe came from people just getting rid of things in their homes. Then there were the vendors selling food such as vegetables, produce, seasonings, and homemade blends for cooking. More on street vendors in a later update because they are representative of Chinese life here in this part of Changchun.
Another grocery store we went to, one she had not been to before was more of a hike to get there. She actually took me to this supermarket first. I think she’s been wanting to go there but did not want to walk it alone and it was almost 2 miles away. OK, I can see one thing Tai and I need to understand. What is not far for her will most likely be far for me. LOL Here’s how we started out:
Tai says, “darling I take you to Chinese supermarket. It is not far away so we walk.” I say, Yes I would like to go to the supermarket dear.” We leave for our venture out. After walking about 2 miles up and down hills, tackling the rise and decline of steps, maneuvering ongoing sidewalk repairs, and weaving through people we arrive at the grocery store. We (I) made it! I was ready for her to put me in the grocery cart and wheel me around.
The entrance to the grocery store is a bit misleading to me at least. I have no idea what the outside sign says at the entrance. But when you go in there is a little store/shop that has nothing to do with the market. A very simple and small electronics store. In the back of this tiny shop there is an escalator going down into a basement area. This is where you enter what I call “the underground market.” A woman stationed just before you enter the supermarket takes Tai’s handbag (Tai was carrying a large pocketbook) and puts it in a large canvas bag with a strap and zips it up. Then she puts a lock on the zipper so she cannot get to her purse while in the store. A deterrent to shoplifting I presume. There were not many people there. However, one of the first things I noticed and felt was being stared at immediately. I am guessing they don’t get a lot of white, bearded, blonde Americans in their store. This is something I have noticed as well as Tai and I walk along the streets. As people approach us, I get stares like “what are you doing here or who do you think you are,” or of disgust at both Tai and I because she is with a foreigner, then there are some bewildered looks, some no looks at all as they seem oblivious to everything around them, and I get some smiles and happy looks too. However, it is the older generation where I see the disgusted looks primarily.
Browsing around I could see prices, the best I could determine are pretty much the same as back home. Some things are cheaper. There are many things that are not prepackaged. All the meats are displayed the same as in a butcher shop. Choose what and how much you want and they will fix you up. Apparently, there are a couple of customer service employees in each grocery section ready to sell you on their products. They waste no time making suggestions for you while opening a plastic bag expecting you to fill it. I was looking at some nectarines and they were very pleased I was interested in their fruit. Then I saw some peaches that looked nice and the other customer service girl stepped in also. Unfortunately, Tai did not find the humor in this display of peddling fruit by these two girls as did and we quickly moved on to the “dairy” section. Immediately we were shadowed by an employee waiting to help us. There are limited selections in the dairy case. Some milk in quarts (no gallons or half gallons), some yogurt, many things I did not recognize, there was no cheese of any type, and no butter/margarine. No cream cheese for my bagels which I found out later are not available either in China. Like fresh seafood? You can pick your fresh fish as they are swimming in tanks. That would include fish, eels, turtles and a choice of sea life I did not know the identity. I wasn’t able to see how the fish were sold. Did they clean the fish there or did you just buy as is and do all the cleaning at home? I did not get many pictures in this supermarket as Tai was rushing me through the different sections of the store. I think I was embarrassing her trying to take pictures. So, I tried taking some pictures incognito. Yes, I’m a crazy white American… no see Chinese supermarket before. Take picture… snap snap… LOL That is all for now. Until next time, keep your faith.
Wǒ shì zài zhōngguó hǎiyáng zhōng de wò ēr duō. Zhǎo wǒ!
I am Waldo in a sea of Chinese people. Find me!