Monday, December 08, 2008

Main Street, Taishan

Walking down the main shopping street of Taishan, you would never get the idea that boosting domestic consumption is the next big economic challenge the Chinese government has to confront. People everywhere. Music blaring from speakers. Bright lights. Sure, some of the spending is at the "2 Yuan" store (China's answer to the dollar store). But there also appears to be continual action at the stall where plasma TVs are sold.

The main promenade itself is quite a sight to behold. Stone patterned streets, a nice contrast to the badly-poured concrete of much of the rest of town. Refurbished building facades, a nice contrast to the crumbly-looking faces found above store fronts in other neighborhoods.

As for us, we spent hours walking up and down the street, basically following Julie from store to store. She tried on some shoes...No luck. Thirty-nines were the largest size, and Julie wears something like a forty-two. She looked at some scarves. At 50-60 kuai a piece, tai gui le (too expensive). Wallets. Hair stuff. Not unique enough. Nothing really stood out.

In the meantime, I came across a most unusual scene. Right in the middle of the street, there was a Christian church. Stepping in to have a peak, I stumbled into a chapel full of people, all rehearsing Christmas carols. Before I knew what was happening, I was cleared a space in a pew, given a hymnal, and doing my best to join in on Chinese versions of songs like "Silent Night."

Right outside, the night was anything but silent. Strolling back out into the street, I was once again engulfed by the crowd, thankful to be along for the ride...



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