Wednesday, June 4, 2008

China Day 05: Bus Shopping

This is the oddest place.

After our usual good breakfast, we had an 8 AM bus call. Our 40 minute bus ride then became a unique purchasing opportunity.

One extremely popular souvenir to buy in China is a chop, which is a seal used to stamp your name in red ink on documents and such. Well, Grand Circle Travel wanted us to have the chance to buy very nice chops at a fixed price. (I for one really appreciated the chance to not have to bargain. I still find it very exhausting, and I'm not very good at it so I always figure I'm being cheated.)

Lilian passed around examples of several chop designs: a largish Buddha and a very cool, hefty dragon, as well as a dozen smaller chops with the symbols of the Chinese zodiac on them. Then she passed around order slips - you picked the design, and then gave the name you wanted engraved. The names appear in Chinese and English on the finished chops, and they come in a satin-lined gift box which includes a container of red paste ink. If you bought five, you got the sixth free so we bought six. I guess their technique of using the drive time as shopping time paid off. (Here is Lilian pitching the product:)
I was planning to buy a chop anyway, and actually these were much bigger and nicer than ones I saw later on, so I remain pleased. And one more advantage: Grand Circle shipped them for us to the last mainland stop on our tour, Guilin, so we didn't have to worry about the extra weight in our luggage. (Remember the weight limits - Fred sure did!)

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