November 20, 2008

Shopping in China - MUST HAVE items

I'm on a roll with "must have" reflection posts. As much as I was anxious for Josie, I was equally excited to do some serious shopping while in China. I loathed the bartering, but Chris was the master of negotiations and we came home with some really lovely acquisitions. I should mention, that we never made it to the alley with the knock-off purses, sunglasses or designer clothes, but I'm so pleased with the special items that we did bring home from Josie's country.

Here are a few of my favorite purchases in China:

Nanchang is know for its porcelain and I just love this hand-painted tea set. Both Emma and Josie also picked out smaller tea sets as well as several vases and hinged boxes. The prices were a steal (my large tea set was around $35). If we would have had more room, I would have bought more tea sets for relatives and friends. The hinged boxes and vases ranged between $3 - $7. These same items were so much more money in Guangzhou.

Chris's chess set

Chris purchased two different chess sets while in China. One set he has at his school and one set is at home. They are made of ox bone and the carving on each piece is simply amazing. The price was an absolute steal. He paid $26 for his larger set. If it wasn't so big and heavy, he would have bought additional sets for friends. Chris bought his chess sets in Guangzhou.

Several stores in Guangzhou offer a service of doing reverse painting inside glass bottles. You can drop off a picture and then within 24 hours, you can pick up your painted bottle with the image painted inside. The only picture we had already developed of Josie was her identification card from her orphanage. Her bottle doesn't really reflect what she looked like at the time, but it's priceless. Emma's picture is very close to the school picture that we had in our wallets. We were so pleased with these purchases. They are such keepsakes.

I remember seeing my friend Steffie's daughter wearing a tiger hat while they were in China and I was on a mission to find one for Josie. The tiger hat is a traditional baby gift in China. The tiger is believed to protect the child from bad spirits and bring good luck. Our guide later told us that typically only boys wear these type of hats. Oh well. We thought she looked pretty darn cute in it.

I bought the girls several matching outfits in China and even bought Josie's baptismal dress. I'm so glad I bought several different sizes so that Josie can continue to wear them through the upcoming years. The prices are so low in Guangzhou for these type of outfits. The outfits cost around $5 or less. Some outfits were a bit pricier, but well worth it. While in Nanchang, our guide kept telling us to wait on purchasing shoes and outfits until we got to Guangzhou, and I'm glad we waited. She was right, the prices were half the cost as what we were looking at in Josie's province.

We bought the girls each big beautiful paper kites in Beijing. They weren't easy to pack in our luggage, but we never saw them in Nanchang or Guangzhou and I'm glad we bought them in Beijing. The kites cost about $5 and the detail work is amazing.

"A Gift From China", Guangzhou's First Charity Store has different items than most of the stores in Guangzhou. The items are a little more money, but better quality. One of my adoptive friends (thanks Cindy) told me about the dolls from this store and I couldn't resist buying each girl a set of mother/daughter dolls.

Our guide took us to the pearl market in Guangzhou to buy our pearls. I'd love to say our shopping experience was a lovely one, but Josie was an absolute terror while we were in the store. Chris ended up picking out all our jewelry (while I paced with her outside in her baby carrier). He did a wonderful job at negotiating and picking out several beautiful pieces. I can't say it, buy, BUY. The prices are so inexpensive and earrings make great gifts for friends and relatives.

For my readers who are about to travel to China, I'm sure they would LOVE to hear from other adoptive families regarding their favorite shopping adventures and China acquisitions. I can't wait to read your suggestions. It makes me want to go back and shop, shop, SHOP!! Thanks, friends!!


Nicole said...

We didn't do quite as much shopping, but we did come away with some nice things... here are several that I especially liked.

My favorite is my jade bangle bracelet. Tradition says that I'm supposed to wear it till Katelyn turns 16 and then give it to her... I think I may wait till she's at least 18 (16 just sounds really young to be wearing expensive jewelry), but it will be her's when she gets older.

We also bought a porcelain tea set for Katelyn and a porcelain bracelet... as Kim said, that's what her Province is known for.

Of course we bought a few outfits for Katelyn and matching ones for the boys. They wore them the day Katelyn was baptized.

Oh, and being the music person I am, I had to purchase a musical instrument while I was there... so I got a Ba Wu. Neat instrument.

Good idea, Kim! I'll have to blog about our purchases some time... you always have such great post topics!!

Mike and Barb said...

Ohhhh, this reminds me of some beautiful keepsakes that I have never taken pictures of, either!!
I LOVED all the porcelain, and we bought a full size tea set as well, and a small "play" one - yeah, right, that one will not be played with for like EVER. Not sure what to do with it, though, but it's gorgeous!
I also am glad we bought some embroidery from Hunan - that was pricey, but so special. We still need to get them framed.
We bought the girls some pearls as well, but I'm not really into pearls myself. We chose the small irregular pearls for some bracelets for the girls, and because they are considered "2nd class" because of it (which I find especially pretty), and they were double stranded bracelets and cost about $5 a piece. We ended up getting some for gifts for all the little nieces in the family.
And yes, the chinese dressed in various sizes.
We also had stamps made in Guangzhou - you can find them in all little souvenir shops - they have the American name and the Chinese symbols on it (I hope they are meaningful symbols :-)) ) Those are very unique as well.

Oatsvall Team said...

A must have is the mother/daughter love necklace shaped in a heart on a silver chain ... i got one on both trips for the girls and the lady said i should give it to my daughter when she turns 16 .. Also, I had silky blankets made that they both love and use ... I got these amazing glass bracelets at the pearl market that have so many colors in them that are just beautiful, and purses made in the their province ... Hope this helps.

CHEERpy TALK said...

iloved ur shopping items..esp paper kites.

Kim Kenward said...

Thanks for your suggestions, Angela. I've listed them below:

Porcelain - known for in the JiangXi province, a tea set for me and one for Tyler

Kites - a fish, a turtle and a crab

Sandlewood combs - supper cheap and I picked up a bunch for all mmy girlfriends with baby girls.

Embroidery - We picked up a piece we had framed at home that everyone thinks is so beautiful they think it is a painting and sometimes miss that it is an embroidery.

The Young's said...

Wow did some great shopping. We did shop....but there are only a few things I am glad that we purchased.

1. We purchased a few things from Sadie's province to give her at a later date. For example...Sadie is from we purchased her a jade braclett and some other jade a remembrance of her province.

2. Definitely pearls at the pearl market in Guangzhou. We got both our girls some...and I purchased a pendant that I just LOVE!!!

3. Even though we don't wear them very often...I'm glad we purchased the traditional Chinese clothes for all of us. It's just a good keepsake to have for the future!!! :)

That's it. Not really any different from the others...but you are right Kim...the prices are SO AMAZING....SHOP!!! One thing I WISH we would have purchased was at the silk factory in Beijing. Those silk comfortors were amazing and considering how much they would have cost here....I wish we would have gotten one...hind sight. They are hypoallergenic and keeps you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. That sounds awesome. We got one for me dad...but not us!! That's the only thing I wish we would have purchased. It was the beginning of our trip and we didn't know if we'd have enough money for the rest of our time there. We would have! :)'s great thinking back!!!

Kim...have a wonderful weekend!!
Love ya,

Anonymous said...

Hi Kim

I love your recent series how fun - I can't wait!

I am so glad you liked the charm. I am going to do my first give away on my blog - soon. Please bookmark me & check back and to enter!

Nikki said...

Since we were in Beijing and Guangzhou only, we didn't get to go to many places unless we were on our own. So, I didn't get to do as much shopping as I wanted to (although we went shopping EVERY SINGLE DAY!)
Also, since Lili was 4, we didn't get to buy a lot of shoes or clothes. The shoes especially were made for much younger kids. But, we did get some nice shoes and store/name brand clothes at some department stores.
I did get my mom a jade pendant with the 'grandma' symbol in gold in Guangzhou.
We got a lot of cheap, cheap, cheap toys on Shamian Island as well as in the Guangzhou marketplaces.
Be adventurous!! We took a taxi every day into Guangzhou on our own. Sometimes just me and our oldest kid. NOT scary AT ALL. We had a wonderful time. I'd highly recommend it. We went to one market that was just toys. Stalls and stalls of toys. Spent like 5 hours there.
One thing, they're not as willing to bargain in the town as they are on the island, but we still got amazing deals!
In Beijing at the Temple of Heaven as well as the Forbidden City we got lots of 'touristy' things.
If you like to scrapbook, pick up some stamps, postcards, etc. We got some great Mao and communist pins in the Forbidden City. They look so nice in scrapbooks!
I could talk about shopping ALL DAY!!!

Blessed Mom of Four, Now Five said...

Mandarin clothes, squeaky shoes, pearls and a teaset are our favorite must have items.

But, while in Ellie's province, we bought what JT loves most...a Barbie who Chinese. Can't buy one of those on the shelves of Wal-Mart in Georgia. She, then, received the English singing version for her birthday the next month...pretty cool, I think.

Shanna said...

We loved Susan's place. Susan and Dong made beautiful custom comforters for Kai and Chloe. I let the kids pick their favorite fabrics (with my direction, of course) and they had it ready the next day. The kids are madly in love with their blankets!!

Because we took the teenagers on our last trip, knock-off shopping was a big priority. We had to purchase another huge suit case to bring home all of their purses.

We went to an antique store and bought some amazing pieces that we treasure. Two urns that date back to over 100 years, a samurai sword, and two matching Buddah paintings dating back to over 150 years.

We really wanted Kai and Chloe to have some treasures to pass down to their children one day. In the mean time, I am enjoying them for myself!!

Great post Kim! I am really enjoying this month of blogging!!

Miss Scarlett said...

Hey there! I LOVE my Chinese pearls and jade, too! My friend who is going back in a few months is picking up several more dresses for us. We only bought three. We need at least enough to get through age 18, right?! lol! ; )

Our journey to adopt Lili-Kate said...

It is so nice to meet you. Your blog is full of so much good stuff. I have spent the time I should've been doing laundry reading and reading and reading. Thank you for all of the wonderful info! I am so glad to have someone to watch as they have led the way. Blessings!