Finding food is an integral step in the process of getting “settled in.” Since my arrival last Wednesday, I’ve spent an embarrassing amount of time on the quest to find the fabled Supermarket. To the backdrop of other foreign teachers and locals saying “Just keep walking down this road, you can’t miss it!” I repeatedly proved them wrong.
On my first attempt, I found a lovely (chaotic) outdoor market with some delicious carbohydrate street food and questionable-looking produce, but definitely no sign of a large supermarket.On my second attempt, I walked further down the road, crossed a hectic intersection without dying (a major feat,) and found ANOTHER outdoor market, but alas, still no amazing, has-everything-you-could-possibly-need store.
So on my third (and gratefully last) attempt, I meant business. I wasn’t walking back to my dorm without oodles of groceries and necessary daily items. Like a towel. And peanut butter. Even if my feet fell off and I had to buy prosthetic limbs when I got to the store, this was happening.
I had been walking for about a minute, when Mr. Shi, the friendly neighborhood police officer/custodian/spy(?) in the foreigner dorm rode up on his moped yelling my name. I explained to him my epic quest in my characteristically-broken Chinese, until he told me to hop on–I was about to discover this supermarket IN STYLE!!!
For the record, this was my first moped ride in China. There’s nothing quite like having to swerve out of the way of oncoming traffic, and crossing a road on a red light by weaving through cars, bicycles, and adorable three-wheeled taxis. Moments later, we arrive at the one supermarket to rule them all: RT Mart (大润发 for those in-the-know.) Naturally, I thanked Mr. Shi profusely for making a 35 minute walk into a 7 minute moped ride. Also, I’m 97.4% sure I never would have found it, since I’m rather clueless about major store names in China. Mr. Shi, I salute you.
RT Mart is inside a glitzy mall, complete with lots of clothing stores, a moped shop, and a playpen for the kiddies. But then, there it is: China’s equivalent to Walmart. Two stories of Everything You Could Possibly Need.
Since I have to carry my purchases back, I try to show some restraint, with marginal success. At least I managed to stay away from the liquor section… bottles are heavy. My favorite find of the day was this:
Genius. I knew I needed more bimbo in my life. And cheap too! My dream of PB sandwiches came true.
So after spending some serious dough (OK, like $30), I met the truly difficult part: walking back. Not an easy task, when you’re reusable shopping bag is packed to the brim, and your other hand is full of peanut oil and toilet paper (which I later discovered were paper towels. Scratchy.) I walked for about 5 seconds, before I realized that this was retarded. I hopped in to a motorized rickshaw, and away we went. Another first for me. And for less than a dollar, I think it was well worth it. Here’s the view from my sweet ride.
So, my kitchen is now stocked with some bare-bones essentials, so I can explore the Middle Kingdom without starving to death. Win.