Sunday, May 6, 2007

Shopping Zhongshan Lu

We went shopping today – ostensibly to buy bed pillows since Mimi is coming to visit and we don’t have enough pillows to go around. We headed for Zhongshan Lu (Lu = street) and Trust-Mart, the Chinese version of Wal-Mart. (Trust-Mart is actually on Siming Nan Lu (Nan = South), but the bus stops just past Zhongshan Lu, and you have to walk back two blocks). We decided to wander down Zhongshan Lu first – it is one of the main shopping streets in Xiamen and this portion of the street is closed to automobile traffic. That makes it fun to wander and window-shop. There are statues, like the one above, as well as shops. But mostly Zhongshan Lu is about the shopping. So we SHOPPED!

We found the coolest little shop on Zhongshan Lu that sells clothing inspired by ethnic minority costumes. While the principal ethnic group in China is Han, there are something like 55 recognized minority groups in China, many of them in the south of China. (This site gives lots of great info about the various minority groups.)

Zoe and Maya are from Guangxi Province, which is majority minority – principally Zhuang, Dong, Yi, and Miao peoples. In fact, Guangxi isn’t even a province, it is officially the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region (The Chinese Constitution provides for self-government by minority peoples, and that is accomplished in 5 "autonomous" regions, including Tibet, and we know just how autonomous Tibet is!).

It’s highly likely that Zoe belongs to one of the minority groups, though Maya’s features seem to be Han. Anyway, I’m a sucker for the elaborate costumes of the various minority groups – I have a Miao jacket hanging on my wall at home, I bought a Zhuang pleated skirt and a Yi headdress during my last trip to Guangxi Province. So I was excited to see this shop.

The blue outfit is inspired by Zhuang costumes – the pleated skirt and elaborate embroidery are the key elements. This is what drew me into the shop. Aren’t they adorable?! And then the girls HAD to have these Korean-inspired dresses (Korean is considered an ethnic minority group in China because a community exists inside the Chinese border and has for centuries) because yellow is Zoe’s favorite color and Maya loves butterflies.
The ladies at the shop were really sweet and helpful, though they did not speak any English. The hardest thing to convey to them was that I wanted TWO of each outfit -- I guess matching "sister dresses" are not that common in China (for obvious reasons!). As we were about to leave the shop, Maya noticed a Santa mask hanging on the wall and pointed it out to me. Immediately the shopkeeper took it down and gave it to Maya! So the other sales person went to find Zoe a present – a headband with bobbing snowmen! So Merry Christmas in May! We walked down the street with the snowmen bobbing away, and Maya asked me, "Why is everyone laughing at us?" Well, it wasn't because we were out-of-season for snowmen -- you see Christmas decorations up year-round in China!
We’ll definitely be going back to this shop – there were many other intriguing items, including the cutest baby-sized Mongolian felt boots. I’m already regretting not getting them to go with my growing Chinese shoes collection (tiger shoes, worn by children to scare off tigers; tiny shoes for bound feet; the satin embroidered mary janes Maya was wearing when we met. . .).

We did other shopping, too. The girls picked out little 2-yuan beaded bracelets in one shop. And then we found this dress for Maya at the Printemps Department Store, and the complementary dress for Zoe at the Laiya Department Store. And the shoes are from Trust-Mart. Zoe was excited by the shoes – “These are my first shoes we bought in China!” So she deemed them her birthday present, since today is her half-birthday (I can’t believe she’s 6 and a HALF!). Definitely a child after my own heart -- more excited about the shoes than the jewelry!

As is our family tradition, since this is Zoe's half-birthday, she got to pick where we went out to dinner. And of course she picked McDonald's (blech!). We ended up getting take-out since there were no free tables, and took our food to the grounds of Nanputuo Temple for a picnic. Boy, you feel guilty eating chicken nuggets and fish sandwiches under the eyes of vegetarian Buddhist monks! I felt oddly compelled to make a donation before leaving the temple!
So we spent our last day of Golden Week spreading some gold around. Tomorrow it is back to school, and to work to earn more gold. And don’t worry, Mimi, we bought pillows, so you’re all set!


mimifrancoise said...

I just love the photos of the girls with the ethnic costume-like dresses. Even though I am not a big shopper, Id like to go to the shopping street ...I am sure I'll find something.
I know I'll sleep well with my new pillows!
See you soon.

Wendy said...

I love those outfits! Madeline is also Zhuang--we were told anyway due to her finding area (Guangxi baby also--Guiping). I would love to get some of those outfits--could I send you money and our address? Since we met Madeline at 25 months, she was really in no mood to shop or leave the hotel really and I didn't get to buy a thing--luckily her foster mother gave us a ton of love balls!
I also love those Korean dresses! Madeline's fav color is also yellow--she is three. Too cute!

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the locals will notice that the girls are wearing ethnic dresses? It would be interesting to find out who actually buys and wears the ethnic outfits from that shop, whether they are just worn casually or if they are for special events. The outfits are just beautiful.

Elizabeth J.

malinda said...

Good questions, Elizabeth! I saw a little girl at Zoe's and Maya's school wearing a dress that looked to me like a Mongolian outfit -- in fact, I've included her picture in the "Scenes from the Playground" post in April. (Though I could never get her standing still and facing me!). So I recognized it, but I don't know if anyone else did -- I'll have to ask next time she wears it. But it was definitely casual wear for her.

Zartman said...

Great post and I'm glad to see you are shopping other places besides evil Wal*Mart.

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Viagra said...

It would be interesting to find out who actually buys and wears the ethnic outfits from that shop.

Cheap Viagra said...

I didn't get to buy a thing--luckily her foster mother gave us a ton of love balls!
I also love those Korean dresses! Madeline's fav color is also yellow--she is three

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