Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Shop with me in Beijing!

My first surprise when I arrived in Beijing for a weeklong shopping trip in April was the massive new Beijing Airport Terminal 3. I’ve traveled around the world and seen many big airports, but I really have not seen any single terminal as big as this one. I was also impressed with the combination of Western contemporary architecture (glass and columns) with traditional Chinese elements (a red roof and golden colors). This New York Times article explains just how I felt about this architectural wonder.

I usually don’t like to go to Beijing in April because it is a very windy season (we don’t call it “wind,” we call it “blowing sand”) and it is cold at home (all heat is automatically turned off March 15th every year in the whole city, except for hotels). But surprisingly this year, it didn’t “blow sand” and was very warm. I could go out every day, come home clean, and stay warm!

My shopping trips in Beijing are always hectic and productive, but my assistants there find them stressful and unbearable because I shop from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day. After that, I either go to the book stores to look for new books until 9 p.m. or meet my family members and friends until 11 p.m. Then I start working with my ChinaSprout colleagues in New York until 1 or 2 a.m. So for sure, these shopping trips can be stressful for me too.

Since I was a little too productive while shopping, I didn’t get a chance to take photos in all the markets I visited, but at least I did remember in some places. Here are some I want to share with you:

Tea Market
All the tea we sell at ChinaSprout is from this vendor in Beijing’s enormous tea market. The first time I went there, I couldn’t decide which one to buy from because there are hundreds, if not thousands, of vendors selling tea. Each of them asked me to try their tea. Finally I sat down in this little tea house and started chatting with this lady and her husband. Not only did they have good tea, they are very nice people. I felt I could trust them! So since then, I only buy tea from them. Hope you enjoy their tea too.

In the tea market, I also saw this little girl on the trolley drawing and writing Chinese characters. I asked her which grade she is in. She said she is not in school yet, but she just loves to practice writing! I wish my son did the same!

Fabric Market
Have you noticed most of our children’s clothes are designed by ChinaSprout? How? Let me show you! First, I visit the market to select the fabrics.

Then I meet with our tailor, and together we design the dresses or jackets. We’ve made many samples but select only a few to offer our customers. See the fabric I selected this time?

Here are the dresses . How do you like them?

Antique Market
It is called Antique Market, but most products there are not antiques. I buy many craft items there. You see our ink and brush vendor and painting vendors? Find anything that we sell?

I saw these cute clay figures, but I’m not sure if we will carry them. What do you think?

Anyway, I shopped all these markets in about two-thirds of a day. I’ll show you more shopping spree photos in my next posting. Now that you’ve seen these photos and learned that I shop ‘til I drop, would you want to shop with me in Beijing?