shopping for five!!

Shopping excursions in this part of the world are always an adventure!! Whether it be the fresh fruit & veggie markets, the smelly meat stalls, or large, sprawling department stores - you never know what you are getting yourself into!! We are very grateful for all the venues (big & small) that we can shop at, though it is quite different to everyday shopping in California.

Today, I wanted to give you a taste of our biggest supermarket - CARREFOUR! It is a French-based retailer, one of the largest hypermarkets in the world!! Here in China it is phonetically pronounced "Jia-luh-foo" (家乐福), literally meaning = jia (home) le (happiness) fu (prosperity). It first opened here in 1995 - and now has over 250 stores across this nation, and has played a major role in bringing about a retail revolution!

In our city - there are 3 of these gigantic superstores!! The store on our side of town is massive!! You enter thru the main door only to find your way to the escalator entrance after wandering thru an indoor mall....then once you find the actual store, you check in your bag/purse - and grab a cart!! I guess you can equate it to a crowded WalMart, within a frenzy of Chinese patrons rushing around completely unaware of the push-n-shove to find the newest product of convenience.

I typically shop here (once a month!) to stock up on kitchen & cleaning supplies, packaged snacks and Mamy Poko diapers! If I am shopping solo, it can be fun to wander the aisles to find cheap deals on paper plates, Chinese spices, special beverages or dried sweet potato. If I am accompanied by one or two of the girls, we tend to speed with my list - politely avoiding too much attention. Many of my fellow shoppers enjoy coming here because its a "one-stop-shop" complete with electronics, appliances, clothing, books, and fresh groceries too. Carrefour is a very modern outlet - and quite clean too. In the food section (which I purposely avoid) you can find tanks of live fish, eels, bullfrogs & turtles, along with a cacophony of smells - pork sausages, marinated meats, entire lamb carcasses, and whole ducks hanging by the neck. All this is out in the open - not refrigerated. And sometimes I will even hear a familiar tune of "Hotel California"....which is always nice.

The check-out stand is a riot as you inch yourself into a "line" making sure no one sneaks in front of you. There isn't much ettiquette, unless you consider standing your ground and taking every inch you can get. I have grown used to it, and hope that my manners haven't suffered. Maybe next time you see me in an American supermarket you will laugh as I speedily race down the aisles, barely avoiding head-on collisions or navigating tight spaces with ease (and scaring everyone around me)?? This is what is takes to survive, when shopping for five.