Ordos: A Successful Shoe Shop

I went shoe shopping the other day, with surprisingly successful results! There’s a shoe shop that I see just before I get off the bus to walk to school so I decided the other day to have a look and if I found a pair of shoes that fit me, I would get some whatever the cost. I was really after something to replace my Toms which after about half an hours’ wear now turn my feet stinky. I’ve decided I’m going to use them for the gym though, as that won’t matter for something like that, (oh yeah, I went to the gym and actually enjoyed it, so we’re going to sign up soon.)

Anyway, I went into the shop and had a look around. The sales assistant was following me, but I expect this as it happens a lot in China and not just because I’m a foreigner, though I am sure that doesn’t really help either! I picked out a couple that I liked and asked (in Chinese!) for the biggest size they had. In the end, I tried on pair on and they didn’t fit, so I said (again in Chinese) that they were too small. I then showed her the label in my Karrimor shoes I was wearing and she audibly gasped when she saw the size. I’m a 9 (43 in EU and that’s what the Chinese also use) so I was practically a clown in her eyes. She even got another customer involved to see how big my feet were. I managed to pick up that they were asking me where I came from and managed to answer in Chinese too. I asked if there was anywhere I could buy bigger sizes and in her broken English she said ‘Mr!’ I know they sometimes use this term for men, but I do know the Chinese for man, so was able to confirm what she’d said. No matter, I knew my feet were going to be big in Chinese standards so I thanked her and left the shop.

I decided to not give up on the shoe quest and went into a shopping mall which I hadn’t ventured into yet. On the sign in the entrance I saw ‘Clarks’ and I promise you Gregory, that I will get a picture of it for you! Anyway, I had a wander around trying to find Clarks, but ended up on the tip (4th) floor having not found it yet. The 4th floor has a lot of sports shops so I had a wander around, thinking that if I couldn’t buy boots I would just get some new trainers or something. Then I hit the jackpot. There were some boot like shoes on display which looked quite big but not obviously men’s boots. I had a closer look and they were a little fluffy inside and cheaper than the boots I’d seen in the first shop! I asked the sales assistant to get me a size 43, but she came out with a 42. I tried them, but they were just a little bit too tight. As I was parading in front of the mirror though, trying to explain (in Chinese) that they were too small, a man in a suit came over and I thought he was just watching me put new shoes on (weird!). Turned out he worked in the mall and he spoke pretty good English. I managed to explain to him (in English!) that the shoes were too small so he asked the sales assistant to get a size up. Dutifully she did that but while I was waiting for her he was asking me questions about where I was from and when I said England he said he liked football, and players like David Beckham and Michael Owen!

The bigger size came back and they fit me and as I thought that I should probably get shoes in China when they fit me and look pretty good, I bought them. They were 469RMB (£46ish) but for Ordos that is pretty cheap overall so I was very happy with my purchase. Here they are in all their glory anyway.

New boots!

After buying my shoes, which meant going to a cashier lady to get a receipt, as each individual shop does not have a till, I was still on a mission to find Clarks. I ended up back on the ground floor and managed to spot all the shoe shops through the beauty counters. As I walked towards it however, I was grabbed by one of the girls on a beauty counter and sat down on a stool. On one hand she rubbed in some jelly like stuff, then she got a colleague to rub in some kind of bath salt and give me a hand massage to show off their wares. To be honest, I never knew a hand massage could be so satisfying but as I wasn’t interested in buying any of their products, I left as soon as I could and headed to Clarks. I wish I hadn’t. I was looking at prices from 900RMB – 2000RMB! Obviously it’s going to be higher, as the shop is branded as ‘Clarks England’ so it’s considered luxury, but that’s ridiculous. It’s not surprising I left soon after.

We had a funny night on Thursday night. We all went out for a meal after Morgan and I had our Friday classes on Thursday night, due to there being a Halloween party at Location 2 on the Friday evening (more on that shortly). We had a good meal, including eating camel meat, which Phil had ordered then made us guess. For some reason I managed to guess camel straight off, but it was really tasty so I had no complaints, and I don’t think anyone did really! After finishing our meal, we wanted to drink some more beer, just not at home. We managed to get into a restaurant and after explaining we didn’t want to eat (their kitchen was closed) we went up into one of the private rooms for a few drinks. This would have been relaxing had one of the staff’s children not kept trying to come into the room! In fairness, he was really sweet and I think his mum was encouraging him (the menfolk among us wanted the mother to come in, she was hot or something!) but he had a glass of tea which kept getting refilled. He was constantly ‘cambe’ –ing Norman (to cambe  is to drink up/finish your drink) and he kept spilling his tea on the floor and making Norman drink his beer! In the end, to get rid of him and drop the hint, we ended up locking ourselves in the room. The kid had a wicked laugh though!

To the Halloween party. We didn’t really know anything about it apart from the fact that it was in two session between 6-8pm. It got to half 5 and Morgan and I were going to head in the next 5 minutes anyway, when we got a call from Phil saying ‘come now, there’s loads of children.’ Morgan I headed to Location 2 but nothing could prepare us for what we saw when we got there. There as a massive crowd of children in front of the doors and Sophia was holding the doors shut! Morgan and I had to push our way through to get to the door and it felt a bit paparazzi-like as the students were calling both our names and we were saying ‘hello!’ back at them. The CTs were already doing lessons so Morgan and I chose one each, but shortly after these finished. Didn’t stop there though. I had to crowd control the stairs as once the rooms were full, students were still trying to get upstairs! In the end, Phil said we should do lessons outside, so he, Sophia and myself were outside making a mess of the streets by wrapping students up as mummies. I also did a few games and songs and just kept repeating. In the end I reckon I was outside for the best part of an hour and a quarter! Anyway, once all the students had gone and we’d cleaned up all the tissue from inside and out, the CTs wanted photos with Morgan and I so here are a few of our colleagues!

From L to R, back to front: Gaby, Morgan, Betty, Me, Liz, Daisy (with mask!) and Jenny in red t-shirt

Anyway, it’s the middle of the weekend again. I’m up on a Sunday evening to listen to the football, though from now on it’s going to be even later as the clocks change back at home and they don’t here, so I’ll be 8 hours ahead until March!

Morgan, David and I are off to Beijing tomorrow.  I’m very excited. We’re not doing the wall on this visit, as we’ll still have plenty of time to go and do it. Instead I think we’ll do things like the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, and probably some shopping too. Expect some good photos and a massive blog post next weekend!

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Author: Bennett

2 years as an expat in China and now doing the same in New Zealand, Bennett sure likes to experience "slow travel!"

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