Sunday, April 24, 2011

Shanhai Bazaar

Saturday, 23 April

There are two large bazaars located a bit outside the city. I'd been to the one called Central 3 or 4 times by now, but never to the one that's a bit further away, called Shanhai or something.

Buses 36 and 43 can take us there; we hopped on Bus 36 and waited quite some time as we slowly passed through part of the city, past one busy section full of shopping centers and smaller markets, across the long bridge after which you find yourself effectively out of the city, and a few stops more to Central Bazaar.

One or two more stops later there appeared on our right another bazaar, and everyone got off the bus. This must be our stop!

It was early afternoon, chilly yet sunny, and luckily the bazaar was not crowded. Sophia and I wandered around, and I found that visiting a bazaar is not stressful if you're not intent on buying something in particular. The bazaars are huge, with hundreds, maybe thousands, of stands, and while you can find a bargain in the bazaar, it can take a whole day of searching to find one. So going just to look and see was a pleasant enough experience.

I found a cheap pair of tennis shoes, pretending to be the Puma brand, and I bought those for $10, not even bothering to bargain, the price was low enough. We went to an indoor place with bathroom and bedroom stuff, and I searched amongst the pillows for a soft pillow. How could I explain to the lady working there that I did not want a "nice" pillow, because all the nice pillows are firm? I finally found two cheap, soft pillows, less than $10 for both--and again, I did not bother to bargain.

We wandered some more, looking for a purse for Sophia. She had had a nice "purse" (a handbag or something that would be appropriate on a guy, so not sure the exact name for it), that she had lost a month ago. It had been good quality and we'd got it for only $10, but we couldn't find anything of similar quality and price today.

She looked at toys, and one thing I've noticed about bazaars is that the toys are always crummily cheap.

We found a candy store, selling candy by the kilo, and Sophia recognized some chocolates that she liked. 700 Tenge for a kilo sounded expensive, but I ended up getting half a kilo--which was a ton of candy! For only a bit more than $2, so that was a good deal after all.

Then we saw bikes. I've been wanting to get her a bike for some time now; we looked a lot last year, but spending over 100 bucks on something makes me wary; yet I know that bikes cost more than that!

This year we looked again, and bikes were even more expensive than last year. And Sophia's at an awkward stage, too big for a little kids' bike, too small for a teen bike; and she's still very awkward at riding, she still needs to practice.

So we tried a bike--too big--and then another one--good size and blue, too! (She doesn't like pink.) It didn't have gears, as a lot of bikes do, and I figure that's okay since she's still learning, plus gears are probably more expensive. The guy selling the bike saw how much she wobbled while testing it, so he offered to put on training wheels--2000 Tenge. I said okay. I'd really been hoping she wouldn't need training wheels, but I guess she does.

In the end, the grand total for her bike was 13000 Tenge -- that's just under $90.

Now--how to get this bike home? Home was rather far away, and there are no nice bike lanes on the busy road back into the city. And the wind was fierce.

So I decided to see if we could get it onto the bus.

The bus attendant said something to us when we got on; in fact, she said a lot. But she never said anything resembling, "Get off my bus!" or anything that I could understand. She never made any "Get off my bus!" gestures, so I figured, if she didn't force us off the bus, we'd stay on. She charged me 40 extra Tenge for the bike.

I felt bad as we went further into the city and the bus got really crowded. I avoided eye contact with the attendant, who at one point spoke to me again. Not sure what she said, but after several guesses on google translate, it looks like she might have said, "это выжает" which means something like "It's a squeeze." So maybe she was unhappy, but I wasn't breaking any rules (maybe?)

She helped us get the bike off the bus when we finally made it to our stop.

Sophia biked part of the home, and then after dinner she biked in front of our apartment.

We're on the first floor, and right out the door is a large play area, consisting of a small playground and a large concrete area, akin to a parking lot--but no cars allowed. Perfect for a kid to practice bike riding on.

No comments:

Post a Comment