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Yiwu, Shopping Mecca for Small Commodities
2005-7-6 15:47:20     
In Yiwu, the market town well-known nationwide, everyday is market day!

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Anchor:  Time now for our regular travel show, "On the Road."  These days when it's so hot outside, a cool indoor activity is to shop in a nice air-conditioned mall. A lot of us have heard about Yiwu city in east China's Zhejiang Province and the shopping opportunities that this small city provides. Actually small household commodities produced from Yiwu are dominating markets all across China. So let's follow Yunfeng south to check out the shopping Mecca, Yiwu.

The journey is  very  smooth traveling along some of the newest highways in Zhejiang. In no time the bus pulls up in Yiwu and then the fun starts. First of all the basics, a bed; the main hotels are spread along one road Binwang Lu, and there are a full selection of prices and standards. I decided to pamper myself and stayed at the Kaixin Hotel, which provides each guest with free internet service in their room, handy for late-night chats with friends back home on messenger.

After a good night's sleep I was ready to hit the markets. Yiwu is promoted as a shopper's paradise, possessing as it does an ocean of goods; I decided to put this to the test. Wallet safely stowed in my pocket I headed out of the hotel to catch a taxi.

The standard of the hotel staffs was very impressive, all the lobby staff were eager to meet each guest a cheery greeting, and the kind doorman made sure that I knew where I was going; clearly taking pity on that as a stranger, I had to fight with the local map. In no time I was on my way to the Huangyuan Small Commodities Market, on Huangyuan Road.

As with all the markets in Yiwu this one is huge, although it is still a tiddler compared to the city's giant International Trade City. In summer, without air-conditioner, the Huangyuan market can get pretty sticky, but there's always fun around the corner. Sometimes the fun is self made, such as trying out the cool roller-trikes, whilst other amusing distractions are created by Many of the foreigners come from the Middle East, Africa and Russia and many speak little or no Chinese; the result is a pantomime of hand gestures.

I decided to play a game and see how many of certain items I could buy for 100 yuan. Large areas of this market are dedicated to household products, including plumbing and electrics. Of interest were stainless steel vacuum flasks and vacuum teapots, very handy for keeping that morning coffee hot and fresh during the  winter. The flasks ranged from 11-25 yuan depending on size and the teapots were 40 yuan. Another metallic gadget that caught my eye was a nifty fruit press, perfect for fresh juices, one of these would set you back with a price of 45 yuan. Mugs are roughly 1.5 and come in attractive sets of 4 or 6. The roller-trikes mentioned above start at 160 yuan and rise to 270 depending on the size you require.

Naturally with all Chinese markets bargaining is essential, and the more you buy of one item the cheaper it becomes. The stall holders are also very much used to dealing with foreigners and transactions can be carried out in relative silence as the bargaining takes place on a calculator.  Just remember never show too much interest in an object or you'll never get it cheap; plus, over exaggerated tuts and shrugs are always a good idea when bargaining, even if you haven't a clue make it look as though you're an expert in vacuum flask technology - fun guaranteed.

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