Bargaining in Chinese
My trip has almost come to an end, and at first I did not think that I had improved in my language speaking. However, my judgement on my language skills changed when my friends and I went to another flea market here. We went to the Hongqiao Market, also known as the Pearl Market.
While I am not a huge fan of pearls, I am a huge fan of authentic looking Chinese stuff, which usually is just at tourist areas in China. Ironically, the Pearl Market only had foreign shoppers there. But I had a skill that most of the sellers were unaware of, which is that I speak a little Chinese.
The sellers at this market were a little more aggressive than the ones at the Silk Market, also known as the Fake Market. As soon as I stepped inside there were hands grabbing me steering me toward their product, asking me if I want to buy. The main phrase one must know before venturing into the dark depths of a Chinese flea market is “wo bu yao”, which means I do not want.
That phrase was my best friend in the market on Friday. I definitely will say that knowing Chinese is a definite way to get better sales because some people were impressed, others figured out I was a student and gave me a big discount, plus it was easier to talk the prices down because there was no longer a language barrier.
The Scarf Lady
I don’t know why, but in China I have become obsessed with colorful scarfs. I probably will not be able to fit them into an outfit back home, but that does not stop me from buying them. I walked passed this lady’s table at the market and she said that a scarf was only 50 yuan, which is like $7.35.
So I stopped by her table and started the battle to win my next scarf. She was holding this beautiful scarf and I asked her how much the scarf was and somehow my beautiful 50 yuan all of a sudden turned into 380 yuan.
When I confronted her about the original price she had said, she turned to this cheap and tragic looking scarf. I nicely told her I don’t want that one, and that I want the one in her hand. After a minute of serious bargaining and sticking to my budget, she gave me the scarf for 100 yuan. I now understand the lure of bargaining in China. I get such a rush when I get the price drop into a range that I am happy with.
From visiting the flea market, I realized that I was able to hold full conversations with the sales people, which made the shopping even more fun for me. I talked down many people’s prices and even though they looked a bit aggravated, they also looked impressed and like they were having fun. I ended up getting quite a few nifty things that I can give as gifts or just enjoy.
At the beginning of this trip, I found the flea markets in China intimidating, because I did not know what to say or how to bargain. Going back to the flea market at the end of my trip was a great experience, because it showed me how much my language skills have grown. It also showed me that I gained more confidence in myself as a Chinese speaker, because I am willing to try and bargain now.