Category Archives: Shop

A small suggestion to the DVD shops…

Now, I would never complain about the service one gets from any DVD seller in Shanghai. DVDs are cheap, quick to market, and did I mention cheap? So I just have one small suggestion:

“Can you use a little less packaging?”

I’m far from being a tree hugger – like I could find one to hug in this town – but opening a DVD involves un-peeling and throwing away at least three different types of plastic, the glossy cardboard covers, and another paper sleeve.

And here’s the kicker: for less packaging, I’ll guarantee not one foreigner will complain if charged the same amount. In fact, put them in a recyclable paper sleeve and put the word “organic” “green” or “dolphin friendly” and people will pay extra. It works for breakfast cereal and tuna, why not DVDs?

In the meantime, here’s a suggestion for readers who want to keep away from all the packaging – visit or and search for the program you are looking for. 8 times out of 10 the program will be available at blistering fast speeds inside China.

Where to buy glasses in Shanghai

Need new peepers? If you have your script handy there are plenty of places around town to get a stylish pair of glasses at a fraction of the cost you’d pay back home.

When I was a wee new expat I was scratching my head at some of the asking prices of glasses around the centre of town in Shanghai – it seemed like prices were almost a 3rd more expensive than back home. Considering the amount of people in Shanghai who wear glasses and relative income of locals this just didn’t make a whole lot of sense – were people spending almost half a month’s salary on a new pair of glasses?

“Of course not!”, I was soon told by my Shanghai friend more than a year ago now – and that week I was introduced to the world of cheap, cheap glasses in China.

While I’m only slightly short-sighted, keeping up appearances that I’m a nerd smart guy is important, which is probably why I’ve puchased almost 4 pairs already – all of them still in good working order.

For better or worse, here are my recommendations on where to buy glasses and some extra tips you may want to consider before forking out your hard earned RMB.

- Glasses shops which offer cheap glasses are all through the city. I visit my local shop in Jing’an where I get a good price for helping the shopkeepers son practice his English while I wait for my lenses to be put in the frames. Like most things in Shanghai, the better you know the shop keeper, the better the price.

- There are whole glasses markets around town. For foreigners the easiest one is the markets just near Shanghai Railway Station on Meiyuan Lu – it’s called 3yes Optical and located on level 5F – there are two levels of camera equipment below it which is also worth checking out. It’s full of fashionable glasses made to order but you need to bargain to get a decent price. Most shopkeepers understand English and foreigner’s poor Chinese. If you’re more adventurous there are more markets located north of town – prices are actually about the same but no English.

- It does cost more for better lenses. An 80RMB or 100RMB pair of glasses will probably include cheap lenses.

- The frames are most probably fake. Personally, I hate having brands on my glasses but I’m guessing that the D&G branded glasses and the like are probably imitations. If you have a moral objection to it then it might be worth avoiding these shops and paying 3000RMB+ for a pair of original frames.

- Get your eyes tested by a professional. I’ve never had my eyes tested here but when a friend was in town recently they did their testing and it was off slightly. It might be best to get your eyes tested by a doctor back at home or someone who is professionally qualified in China. I’m guessing the people at the markets may not be university qualified (but I’ve been wrong before).

- Don’t spend too much. Unless you’ve got some seriously complex eyes I wouldn’t be paying over 500RMB for a pair of glasses at the markets.

Feel free to add in further tips in the comments section below.

How to recharge a China Mobile card in English

The title of today’s post suggests this has been something I’ve found difficult to do without the help of the lovely lady in the convenience store who obviously thinks I’m as retarded as I look.

However, today the shopkeep’s daughter was crying in the store and she was pre-occupied with other customers so I got the card and went on my merry way. Now, the problem with recharging the card is that the English instructions aren’t very clear, in fact, they are downright confusing. However, I don’t blame China Mobile – I live in a country of a bazillion Mandarin speakers so I really should be able to understand the Chinese instructions better.

But, I don’t (yet). So, if you’re in the same boat as me then follow these instructions on how to set up and recharge a Chine Mobile pre-pay account. Don’t try and understand what is being said…just follow these instructions:

1. Purchase a pre-pay sim if you don’t already have one.
2. Put it in your phone
3. Purchase a China Mobile pre-pay recharge card
4. Scratch off the coat to get the PIN number
5. Dial 13800138000
6. The automated service will begin. Press 2 for English, then press 2, then press 1#, and then 1 to confirm.
7. You will now be prompted for the PIN number which is the scratched off bit on your card. After entering it hit the # key.
8. It will say something like ‘wait a minute’ before it confirms that your card is now charged and ready to go. If you have fat triangle fingers and screwed it up then go back to 7.

That’s it. At any time you should be able to ring up 10086 and find out how much credit you have left on the pre-pay account. Normally you’ll get 1-2 txt messages a day warning you before it’s over as well. If you’re expecting important calls it’s noteworthy to not let it expire as people won’t be able to call you if you don’t recharge the card.

Shanzhai eye: Dike shoes

I love Shanzhai (山寨) goods, aka counterfeit knockoffs, in China. Whenever there’s a fashionable good, a group of entrepreneurial go-getters are ready to re-create said good and serve it up in the fake markets. In Shanghai, western tourists can be seen flocking to the markets for a bit of brand-name Shanzhai action and scuttling out later with rip-off booty hidden in inconspicuous black bags.

But it ain’t the plagiarism or the framin’ I like, it’s the subtle changes some of the goods ship with. iPeds, Hello Kittly, D@G, and Polo shirts horses with 3 legs…I’m sure you’re picking up what I’m putting down.

Last weekend we came across these Nike, Dike shoes.


Past and present: Huangpu Park

Huangpu Park located at the northern end of the Bund is a small green area with a colourful past. In the ye olde racist days the foreign powers that ran Shanghai excluded Chinese from entering the Park. Here is the official sign that was once at the gate:

In the kung foo movie “Fist of Fury”, based in Shanghai, Bruce Lee gets angry about not being able to enter the park and kicks a sign to bits which read “No Chinese, or dogs allowed”. Kicking the arse of a few Japanese guys in the process has made this scene one of Bruce Lee’s most famous. This scene is definitely a Twisted Sister, “We’re not gonna take it”, moment.

Today, the park is filled with locals practicing Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Badminton, playing chess, and generally chilling out from the hustle and bustle of Shanghai. Fittingly, there’s also a monument commemorating those who have freed China from foreigners and the Bund Historical Museum depicting the history (without Bruce Lee) and pictures from yesteryear.

Here’s a picture I took this morning at the park’s gates:

Shanghai Ugg boots

While it’s well known that ginger kids are best suited to colder weather, my feet have been walking iceblocks since Jack Frost rode into town recently. So, while walking around the street markets near Yuyuan Garden I was pretty chuffed to run into these Gorilla Ugg boots:

Half man, half monkey and 40RMB poorer my toes are in a much, much happier place.