Category Archives: Shopping

Self check-out counters – yay or nay

Our local grocery stores, most of them, are switching to self check-out counters. While they still have check-outs with cashiers, there are more of the self check-outs in the stores.

Of course, the giant conglomerate, Walmart, has more self check-outs than tellers. Which is to be expected. It’s a big chain all around the world, and there is the pressure for them to be the leaders in changes.

But recently, our local grocery stores have been renovating and adding the counters. At first, I was skeptical of them. I disliked the fact that I had to bag my own groceries (then realized that at most of the stores I shop at, I bag them myself anyway). And are they really faster than a cashier? I have debated back and forth about this.

Yesterday, I realized that in fact I LIKE them ! More than a cashier in fact. And I do not believe for a moment that so many people are losing their jobs because of them. I believe a few may have, but for the most part, I still see the same amount of cashiers and employees milling about the stores.

What changed my mind? Well, I had to make a quick stop in our local Food Basics store on my way to work. As I walked in, I noticed the “express lane – 10 items or less” had at least 8 people standing there. I went to get my items (I knew what I wanted to get and knew exactly where the items were). As I approached the cashiers, some 5 minutes later, the SAME PEOPLE were still standing in line with their items, and no one was using the self check-out lanes. There are 6 self check-out counters. Every one was available. So my thought was – well I could stand in line, and possibly be late for work, or I could zip on through the self check-out and be on my way with lots of time to get to work. Off I went. In a matter of 3 minutes, I had checked them out, bagged and was back in my car ready to go. I spent a total of 8 minutes in the store getting my stuff and paying and heading out. The same people were still standing in the express lane.

So my thinking is – if I only have a few items, YES I am going to use the self check-out. If I have a buggy full of groceries, then I will most likely use a cashier. But for those people making a stand and refusing to use them, who are you helping? You are all standing there, holding each other up, paying for your 10 items or less, and wasting valuable time – time is not forever. I choose to use mine carefully.

Okay, I know not everyone will agree with my thinking, and that’s okay. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, or to perhaps “see the light” that it makes sense (at least to me) to be quick picking up a few things. But maybe, if you think of it as – how much time do I really have in this world to waste it protesting over something that will not change, no matter how much you protest – is it really worth it?

Thoughts to ponder…

‚ÄčThe many oddities of China

Quirks,  oddities, translations gone askew.  There are so many unique qualities of China, its hard to narrow it all down to one category.

Wearing velour sweat suits in 29 degree weather!!
From the constant spitting, to the use of the sidewalk as a toilet, to the incredible generosity of the Chinese people. It’s interesting to see the many faces of China.

Translations are my favourite. They really want to embrace the Western way yet have no clue that the way they translate does not make sense.  I make a point now to look at the signs, the food labels and the clothes.  

The authentic Chinese food is truly incredible. Some of the best food I have ever had. But I steer away from street food because pigeon isn’t at the top of my list to eat!

They have unique choices to food that is common I am sure worldwide.  While I have had cucumber chips and lime chips, some flavours I won’t try (squid flavour? No thanks!)

There are so many odd things I see here, but some things are rather disturbing.

This is a child (2 year old) size tshirt. Scary!!
It is definitely interesting to see all the unique things here!!

Books Books Books!!

I believe that everyone has some sort of addiction. Maybe its a caffeine addiction. Maybe a sugar addiction, or even something stronger. My addiction is books ~ specifically notebooks.

China has very cheap office supplies!  And it is all good quality. My problem is the notebook.  All sizes.  But they have to be lined paper. My addiction is very specific.

You may be wondering ~ what is she doing with all these books?? I am glad you asked!!

Since I am a teacher, at least four of the notebooks are for lesson planning, with each grade having its own book.  There is one that is for my journaling. One is for my scribblings of the book I am trying to write about my travels.

That leaves about 10 to 12.  Each one has something in it. Lists. Names of students. Addresses. Random things I write.  I know one or two have different ideas for blogs. One also has information about places I want to travel to. There is no specific purpose for any of the others, other than to satisfy my addiction. 

So why am I blogging about such a random topic?  To show that teaching and traveling the world is sometimes boring but in a good way. There are lazy days. Days I want to be introspective. Those are very good days to journal!

Living in foreign countries can sound glamorous but, in reality, it is not always that way. It is a way of life, a routine. I just happen to be living and working in China. And so with a routine comes mundane and boring days. And that’s why I have books. To fill them with my words. My visions. My nonsensical lists. And yes there are many nonsensical lists! Haha

It’s okay to have boring days. Creativeness can come from those days. New travel plans can be decided on. A whole world can open up to you, if you give boredom a chance.  

So give it a try ~ plan a day of nothing, with just a notebook and a pen to keep you busy. You might be surprised at how fun a boring day can be!

China surprises!!

‚ÄčIt has been over six months since I arrived and I am still learning new things each day when I am out. These are some things that may surprise you about China:

Pedestrians have no rights. Seriously we have no rights.  We walk whenever there is a break in traffic.  Cars do not slow down for you. Sometimes it feels like you are risking your life by crossing 8 lanes of traffic. I have become very good at maneuvering my way across the roads.
Public transportation.   It’s a very different experience here. At small stops, a lot of the time the bus simply slows down enough for you to jump on and then takes off before the door is closed. You need to be quick!  It is very cheap to take the bus ~ only 1 rmb (about 20 cents Canadian). They pack on the people ~ like a sardine can. People push, they sometimes are aggressive with their pushing. You learn to push back. I also have learned when the best non crowded times are to get on a bus!!
Stray dogs. This is a very sad part of the area I live in. Many people within the gated area have dogs as pets. But outside of this area, there are a lot of stray dogs. They look frightened and sad, but it is still better to keep away from them. There have been many times I have seen parents make their child run away from them. Its sad.
Snow removal. This city amazes me with the snow removal!!  They waste no time getting out the snow ploughs and shovels to clear the snow. And the amount of people who are doing the shoveling is astonishing. Men and women of all ages. Once the snow stops falling, they get out their brooms and start sweeping the snow off the roads. It really is awesome to see how they do it. They do not, however, use any salt. Its very slippery some days!!
Shopping centres.  If anyone has a noise sensitivity, you need to be aware of the noise. And this isn’t from the shoppers. The different stores have people standing there, with microphones, yelling about their sales. They talk over one another. I know this now and so plan my shopping on days when I know I can handle the amount of noise I will encounter.  And in the supermarkets, they have people offering free samples and they are very pushy!!  I know to say BU now (no) and walk away. 
These are just a few examples of surprising things I have encountered. It still amazes me that some of these things happen!!

More tips on China

To continue with my personal tips on being in northeast China,
6.  Shopping centres ~ they have specialized shopping centres everywhere! Furniture centres, clothing, shoes ~ it’s fascinating. And there is even one for tea!!! There are lots of general ones that have everything but sometimes its fun to go to the specialized ones!
7.  Squatting ~ okay this is one that surprised me. I had no idea about the squatting “toilets”. I cannot get used to that. But whats been more eye opening are the parents letting their children go to the bathroom anywhere. Parking lots, on the grass…anywhere. They squat and they go. Be prepared.
8. Bathroom etiquette ~ more on this. Carry tissue, and hand sanitizer. There is rarely toilet paper. Never hot water. Rarely soap. And rarely paper towels to dry your hands. It is very disconcerting. So again be prepared! Starbucks, KFC and Pizza Hut are exceptions to this.
9. Restaurants ~ when you go to a restaurant here, they bring you a menu and stand there until you order. It does no good to ask for a few minutes. They wait. Its stressful!! On the plus side, the bigger restaurants will usually have English menus. So if you know what you want when you go in, it is a good thing.
10.  Public transportation ~ most buses I have been on are crowded, loud and people are pushy. More pushy than I ever experienced in Canada. It does not matter if you are “first” in line. They will push you out of the way. I have learned to push back. They don’t care if you do ~ it is just the way they all are! They expect it I think!
Stay tuned for more tips and observations!!