China can be Cheap (but might not be)

The other day I was wandering around (have you noticed I do that a lot?) and I came across a large shopping center. The best part of going to shopping centers is that they all seem to be air conditioned. In my past trips to Beijing, this hasn’t really mattered because it has usually been cool when I visited. This time, however, summer is raging. I talked to a Chinese guy yesterday and he told me that this year was hotter than usual.

I went inside and rode the escalators to the top (6th) floor. Inside were shops of all kinds. It looked about the same as many urban malls in America with clothing, appliance, sportswear and several Chinese versions of Victoria’s Secret. I spent some time looking at clothes  at Uniglo and eventually ended up in the stationery section of a department store looking at pens and notebooks. My pen had run out of ink and I was looking to replace it. I finally settled on a Pilot V5 Hi-Techpoint, an updated version of a pen of mine that recently ran out of ink. It has liquid black ink and a small point that allows me to write fairly quickly, something that is important with as many words as I write these days.

I also picked out a bound (not spiral) notebook. Total price? 46 RMB, about $6.50. Had I been in a sharper state of mind, I would have realized that was about the same price as I could get them in the States. By now, you would think I would know better. If you have to pay the US price, you’re probably paying too much (for most items). When I got back to campus later I happened to be passing through the central convenience/electronics/tobacco/clothing store and I saw that I could have bought similar items for about one third of what I had just spent. Next time I’ll be more careful. China can be cheap, but it is like anywhere else. If you’re not paying attention, someone will get the best of you.My overpriced notebook