Saturday, September 13: The open market on campus is a lively place on a Saturday morning. Here, vendors sell fruits, vegetables, spices, nuts, plastic household goods, chickens, fish, pork, beef, clothing, and shoes. They even sell prepared meals and have picnic tables set up for people to stop for a snack, lunch or dinner. It’s noisy and fun, and it looks like it’s the social hour for locals to catch up with their neighbors.
It’s a little difficult for me to shop here because I have few Chinese skills. As this is an open market, you need to be able to negotiate and say what you want. I came here earlier this week to buy some rice. I only wanted a bit because I only have myself to feed, but the woman kept dishing huge bowlfuls of rice onto the scale. I gestured that I didn’t want that much, that she should put some back, but instead she kept putting more onto the scale. It seems she was trying to give me an even number of kilos, but I didn’t want that much. No matter what I did, she wouldn’t put any back into her bin. I ended up lugging home a huge bag of rice. It may last for 6 months! Because of all this rice, I made a special trip to WalMart in downtown Nanning to buy a rice cooker.
A similar thing happened with kiwi fruit. I wanted only 3, but the man kept gesturing I needed to take 10. I didn’t want 10, and I tried my best to make that clear to him. Finally he put up 5 fingers and put 5 in a bag. I really didn’t want 5, but I took them and paid accordingly. When I took one out to eat the next morning, it was overly ripe. I ate it anyway and felt queasy the rest of the day. The next one I ate wasn’t quite ripe, but I ate it anyway with no repercussions. When I ate the third one, I got some kind of painful bite on the side of my tongue. I wondered if there were some kind of bug embedded in that kiwi. Needless to say, I threw the other two away.
I haven’t had any other issues with the food because I haven’t bought much here. The first time I came here, I did buy some plums that were cheap and delicious. I also bought a dragon fruit that lasted me about 4 days and was wonderfully refreshing. I hope I can learn some Chinese numbers and phrases so that I can better negotiate this market.
I imagine I’ll get better at negotiating with vendors at this market. It’s the closest market to my apartment, so I really should take advantage of it when possible. I’ll try to learn a few useful Chinese phrases to help me find my way. 🙂