When I made the decision to get a new computer I knew that I had to face a few challenges. The language barrier was one, but I managed to find my way to several computer shops and determine if they sold the Asus brand I was looking for. When I had the specifications I went again, and eventually took a Chinese teacher with me to interpret.
We spent some time with one concession at a big computer sales centre, and managed to get the price down a little. They treated us - we sat down, a bowl a sweets was put in front of us, and a glass of water, and about 6 staff stood around while we discussed the computer and my needs.
Eventually we decided to walk away, and went to another concession where again we were treated to seats, water etc. The first place said they could deliver the computer by Sunday morning, but the other was vague, so we went back to the first. When we arrived there was some fighting between two staff members and it was a chaotic scene for a few minutes so we waited until all had settled down. But of course, because we had been to the other concession, the price had come down again.
Having eventually agreed, I paid 100 Yuan deposit, and left agreeing to come back on the Sunday to collect the computer. I showed them my Australian Visa card - no worries, I was told. Yeh, right.
On the Sunday I arrived around 10.15 am - and they were still preparing the computer for me, so I sat and waited for them to finish loading the OS. I could not have Vista (lucky me) because it is in Chinese, and they only had XP in English. (That worked for me!!!)
Eventually all was ready, and I had to go upstairs to pay. Guess what! Australian Visa card did not appear to work. Now, thinking this would all be simple I did not have a translater with me, so managed to work out what was going on (most of the time) alone.
"We wait" I was told. They got a chair for me, and we sat around "waiting". For what I do not know. By this stage it was Chinese meal time, and they were concerned whether I had eaten! They got me a bottle of water - but all I wanted was to pay and leave.
When I asked about the Visa card, I was told to wait. Eventually I managed to work out that it had not gone through - what we were waiting for was a divine intervention I think! Anyway I said I could go to the bank. So the salesman, carrying the box and computer followed me across the road to the bank. I needed to gt 12,000 Yuan from the bank. But my limit was 6,000 according to the ATM, so we went into the bank. Me, the salesman, and my computer!
After discussion in Chinese, looking at my passport, my Visa card etc, it all got too hard.
So I said I'd paid the money that I had, and return to the college. Maybe I could transfer the necessary funds to another account and access the money and come back. This freaked them all out as they thought I wanted to take the computer and I hadn't paid for it. They settled when I explained that I would pay the balance BEFORE I took the computer.
So I caught the bus back to the college, transferred the funds, rode my bike to the nearest ATM, got the money, walked to the bus station and got the bus back into town.
Now this is Sunday - the BIG day for shopping when the millions of Shaoxing people spend their day and money in the city. It is chaos.
Eventually I got to the computer shop, paid my money and walked back to the bus stop, and returned to the college.
Nothing is easy here. It had taken me 6 1/2 hours to do all this. I arrived back home and barely had the energy to open the bag to look at the new computer.