Saturday, 11 October 2008

A visit to the supermarket

Yesterday my friend and I had an interesting couple of hours in Shaoxing. First of all we purchased tickets to a Chinese opera. There is a building in the city which is a "copy" of the Sydney Opera House. I'll try and post a photo of it later. It is not my first attempt to get to see some traditional Chinese Opera. I've been thwarted by the language barrier, and the lack of interest by my students who had "offered" to help me. It seems that young people have no interest in the old culture of their country.

In any case armed with the correct about of money, we set out to buy 6 tickets to a performance from the Sichuan Opera Company. It really was hilarious as we used sign language, our book of Chinese words, a few Chinese and English words, and eventually we got front row tickets for the performance tonight.

Then, happily we went to the supermarket. The big Trust Mart in the centre of town, to buy a few snacks for a trip on a canal by boat that we did last night. Venturing into a supermarket is always and adventure. Young people will approach us for our cell phone number, a chat, a photo - any one or all of these. Older people will stand and stare at us, and even look into our supermarket trolley to see what we buy. See what we eat.

Finding one's way around the supermarket shelves is not too difficult. These days many of the familiar brands from home are easy to identify - so for most things it is easy. Fresh food, packaged food - well that is different.

The supermarket has a lot of live fish and animals. A huge tank where you catch your own fish. Smaller tanks with frogs, tortoises, eels, crabs, prawns etc. Catch them yourself. Meat is sitting on beds of ice - and the locals handle it all, looking to see which piece has the most meat, or the least fat, or the least bone.

The food handling procedures that we are familiar with, are not yet part of the scene in China. Although they are clean. Workers wear clean uniforms, rubber boots, hair nets, and gloves. There are some times when we just shudder a little as we pass by.

Yesterday we were looking at cakes - the Chinese make marvellous cakes - when a bag of something jumped up on another supermarket trolley. A huge fish, recently caught from the tank, was protesting it's capture in the big plastic bag and much to our surprise leaped as if trying to escape. Quite frightened us!

Then when we had eventually completed our loading of our trolley, we got on a queue to get to the cash register. They actually have televisions so that you can while away the time on the queue. It took nearly half an hour to make it to the cash register. Shame we could not understand the telly.

The joys of shopping in China.

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