I had an outing without kids in tow! I went with some friends to the Pearl Market – actually a misnomer because they also have amber, jade, all manner of gem and glass beads, etc. I didn’t buy anything but I did come up with some great gift ideas and will definitely have to go back there before we return to the states. We went to another market nearby where they sell traditional crafts. Once again, I sat back and watched how everyone else bargained and what prices they were paying but I am definitely going back there before we head home, and probably when we have folks visit. After that the group split up and a few of us wandered through the crowded alleys in back of the market building – basement noodle shops where folks sat on stools and the cook sharpened his knife on the pavement before cutting the meat, some additional jade and craft stalls, etc. I left everyone else to take the Metro home. The rest of the group lives in a gated community on Ersha Island. They do not have ready access to the subway, so they took a cab.
China is certainly a great place for raw materials (e.g. beads, pearls). The garment district of the city begins directly across the street from the south gate of campus. Although I have not explored it yet, I have seen blocks upon blocks of shops selling fabric and accessories. There is a large garment mall just a block away and I expect that it is much like those I visited today – filled to the gills with fabric. Perhaps a visit is in order, Leila?