Tài Guìle!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Bargaining at the Silk Market

After spending Saturday with Keith at the Silk Market my head is spinning from an abundance of shouting and bargaining. The market was gloriously crammed with purses, wallets, belts, shoes, clothing, sunglasses and everything else you can possibly imagine. The main idea of this market was to haggle your way to a price cheaper than the vendor requests.

The building buzzed with excitement from wide-eyed foreigners and shouting Chinese vendors luring them into their stores. Passing by the doors of the shops, Chinese women shook silk scarves yelling “pretty scarves for you!” and pleaded with potential customers to try them out.

Keith quickly established his love of bargaining and advised me on how to negotiate my way to the cheapest price. His methods included not revealing if and when you desperately want an item, standing firm on your price, and a skill I don’t yet have: busting out in Chinese when the haggling gets really intense. The vendors all speak English quite well which is great for me and other foreigners. Keith likes to speak to them in English, but when he wants to clinch the deal, he speaks in Chinese to catch them off guard.

The Chinese slyly butter up customers with compliments and insist that the material is real and top-notch quality. Unfortunately Keith left me alone for 20 minutes and I found it difficult to resist the vendor’s flattery. I managed to overpay for an adorable [fake] Tory Burch purse, but I’m viewing it as an experience that I will learn from and grow to become better at bargaining. I also learned a new Chinese phrase which is often exclaimed after the vendors show you the price they want you to pay: Tài Guìle (pronounced “tie quay la”), which means “too expensive” in English.

I also learned that although I admittedly have a [slight] shopping addiction, Keith may need to attend a shoppers’ anonymous meeting. He returned to the market three times after Saturday to buy more wallets and bags.

The Silk Market is now definitely on my list of favorite places in Beijing!

Watch Keith try to pay ¥100/$15 USD for a North Face jacket here

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