Dr. Lomino in China: February 7
February 7: Not Your Usual Walmart
My shopping list now includes warm slippers (the marble floors are cold) and a number of items I thought would be easy to purchase here to save room in my suitcase— like toothpaste for instance. Little did I realize that the most mundane American things are almost impossible to find in Guangzhou stores. So when I discovered that Walmart was alive and well in China, I thought my shopping woes were over—surely everything I could possibly need would be available in the “super store.” Before going to the store, we make a trip to the local police station where I am required to register as a temporary resident of the city. We discover that I need an additional photo besides my passport, so we walk across the street to a small copy/photo shop and the efficient young women take care of the task quickly. I sit back and let Jecky take care of the registration. We travel by bus, then by foot to the site of the big blue Walmart sign. But that sign marked the end of any resemblance to Walmart stores back home.
Upon entering the produce section, I am amazed to see huge piles of mushrooms of every shape, color and size; eggs in cartons and bags—white, beige, chicken, and duck. My nose first alerts me that I am close to the seafood section. But this isn'tlike the frozen and refrigerated display I’m used to. The seafood is still alive! There are many varieties of fish including halibut, lying flat on the bottom of the tank, and bony sturgeon swimming slowly in their small aquarium. Shrimp are there too, crammed tightly, but with antennas busily moving about. Only octopus and squid are expired, cut up into small chunks.
I find slippers and a yoga mat (after some confusion with Jecky who thought I was asking about yogurt,) plus a couple of other items, but all in all, Walmart was a disappointment. We eat lunch at the Huahui Rice Roll establishment. Jecky is watching out for me as he orders, always keeping my veganism in mind. While he eats his meat rolls, I enjoy mushroom and onion rice rolls along with rice porridge which he insists I will like. It is very good, especially with the doughnut like squares which are added to soak up all the flavors. I am still struggling to master chopsticks, and am feeling very awkward. Fortunately the soups and porridges are eaten with small ceramic spoons which I usually end up using in spite of my best efforts. I am determined to learn!
This evening I stroll the meandering paths of the Favorview Palace gardens, just below my balcony. Enjoying the lush tropical vegetation and exotic bird songs descending from the trees above, I pass a jogger, several mothers with their young children and a couple of bikers. I look forward to getting better acquainted with my new home and the people who live here.
Today’s insight: I am impressed more and more every day with the Chinese focus on efficiency and efforts towards excellence in all they do.