Thursday, August 16, 2007

A Long Excursion

Since we did not buy anything at the furniture place yesterday, several of us decided to go to Ikea today. Ikea is in Shanghai proper as opposed to the more suburban area we live in so there was much traveling to do in order to get there.

We took a van-taxi to the metro station. We decided to purchase the metro pass instead of the single ticket and to do so we needed to speak to a person. Luckily we had friends to help out.

Along with us for this trip were a Canadian married couple – Terry and Buffy who will be teaching kindergarten and are now in their second year in China. Also on board was Sarah who is a first year China spender, but has spent a year in Vietnam and another in South Korea. Terry and Buffy have learned a little Chinese and it was Buffy who ordered our passes.

We took one metro to another one which took us near Ikea. The metro system is pretty neat, and all the cars are very clean. Unfortunately, their stops are not as neatly labeled as I would like and it is slightly difficult to know where you are and where you are going.

But we made it and jumped inside Ikea. Holy Cow! That’s a big store! It is laid out like a giant snake - you start out in one room, with some house hold furniture and this connects to another room with more stuff which connects to another room with more stuff and so on. Unlike most stores – say Wal-mart – where everything is in a super large room and you are free to go where you like, Ikea was designed so that you had to walk through every single room (thus potentially seeing more items and potentially buying them) before reaching the check-out.

And there were no check-out counters anywhere but the end. The place was packed as well. People every which way wondering to and fro constantly swarming about. It was exhausting.

Amy and I found one little chest-of-drawers that we liked – they were on sale “as is.” There was a little label on them and the part in English said we could pick it up in a certain area and it gave us an aisle and station number. We then wandered pretty quickly through the rest of the store, stopping briefly to buy pillows before running into the section where we thought we could buy the dresser.

In my head I expected to find a counter where upon we would produce our paper and somebody would run up to the dresser and bring it down. Instead we were in a warehouse type room with tons of ready-made furniture all fitted in their boxes for us to take home. The numbers we had led us to the same dresser, but the brand new ones not on sale.

We talked to sales ladies, but with our no Chinese and their broken English we couldn’t quite understand each other. Eventually they got the ‘as is’ part of our speech and sent us down a little ways. Turns out the store has a section dedicated to damaged goods and we found a similar dresser for even less money. It isn’t fancy or pretty but it will work.

With some confusion and haggling we paid for it and managed to get set up for it to be shipped to ourselves.

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