Beijing – Saturday Shopping

Saturday morning we woke up early (9AM is early when you’re on vacation!) and had a really delicious Western style breakfast. (Eggs, toast, bacon, sausage) Then we decided that we would go shopping – M. for a camera and DH and I for an Apple Powerbook. Seemed simple and straightforward – a quick trip to the computer market. After all, we knew exactly what we wanted.

At the computer market we did find exactly what we wanted rather quickly, but then the problems began. Just a word of warning – if you are planning a visit to China, bring lots of travelers cheques or if you’re brave – cash! Do not rely on a credit card. Do not think that you can just throw down a card like you would do in many other places on the earth. I’ve used my North American credit card at a beach shack in Costa Rica…but never have I had so many problems as I had in Beijing trying to buy a computer.

See, to use a foreign credit card, the merchant has to call the Bank of China, they have to approve it, and then they take 5%. We agreed that was okay, with a little discount of the computer price, but then my credit card company wouldn’t allow the charge. I needed to call them to say it was actually me and not some sort of fraud. Well, it took another hour just to figure out how to call internationally. From a computer market, there was no phone that was able to make an international call. We finally had to download the internet phone program Skype and set up an account so that I could call my credit card company.

Almost 4 hours after we walked in, we walked out with my new computer. M. and T. were totally annoyed. I can’t believe they stuck it out with us, as the whole building had “power heat” on, and it must have been 30 degrees (90 F) in there.  I was pretty stressed out over the whole thing and not feeling so great from the cold, but the moment I realized that the computer was mine I was ecstatic.

We were so worn out by the experience that we decided to put off until Sunday our trip to the Forbidden City. We needed some food and some siesta to prepare for New Year’s Eve.


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