Article by XIANEASE
One of the hardest parts of moving abroad is reorienting yourself. That doesn’t just mean finding places to eat at, bars to drink at or learning how to get around; once the big things get figured out, you start to notice all the little things you’re missing. For most of those things, there’s Taobao, but Taobao is easier to say than it can be to work with—maybe you can’t read Chinese, or you don’t have any cards that can be used online, or you can’t figure out where to send it, or your local coworkers are tired of being your personal delivery service, or whatever. Sometimes, you just want to be able to go somewhere and give a person money for your goods and services, like in the good ol’ days. For all those odds and ends you can’t seem to find at your friendly neighborhood Walmart, get your bartering hat on and give these oddly specific markets a try.
Costume Market Address: #40, Xi Da Jie 西大街40号
Halloween has just passed us by, but there are any number of reasons why the Costume Market could come in handy over the remainder of the year (English teachers always beleaguered by bizarre performances and events at your school, we’re talking about you). Masks, makeup, boas, props, clothes, there’s a lot here. Maybe you don’t even have a reason to buy costume regalia—either way, it wouldn’t hurt to have a cheeky look around.
Hair and Makeup Market Address: #1, Dong Da Jie 东大街1号40号
Did you blow up your beloved hair straightener because you brought it from overseas and the awesome power of Chinese electricity was too much for it to handle? Are those oh-so-specific products you use (and just ran out of) too pricey at the department stores? Do you need a wig? If so, you might want to go down to the East Gate for a gander around the Hair and Makeup Market. This multi-floor complex is full of stuff to keep you looking fresh and sexy. It should be fairly easy to find, just sniff around for the sharp smell of hairspray that should be hanging in the air.
Fabric Market Address: Crossing of Wen Yi Lu and You Yi Lu 文艺路友谊路口
This is one for the DIY freaks among us. You’re mostly going to find raw materials here; bolts of cloth, memory foam and the like line the aisles, but you don’t have to be doing your own Project Runway challenge to make the most out of this market. There are aunties at sewing machines that can do the hard part for you. With a little ingenuity, even those of you who are more likely to draw blood with a sewing needle than make a stitch can get what you came for—as long as what you came for is curtains and bedspreads and pillows and stuff like that.
Fish and Flower Market Address: North of Han Guang Lu 含光路北段
Everyone’s heard of the Bird and Flower Market in the Muslim district, but maybe you’re someone who appreciates the more aquatic things in life. This massive bazaar is teeming with plants and flowers of all shapes, sizes and hues and should provide a nice break from the Xi’an gray. Going here to get a nice bouquet of flowers is a no-brainer, but you’ll also be able to find some unique things for your aquarium, including, but not limited to, starfish and jellyfish.
Tool Market Address: North Third Ring Road 北三环
The apartments that are in an affordable price range for a foreigner are not always the most sturdily built. Even when you’ve got a really nice place, lots of little things can go wrong, or maybe you just like to do little projects to keep busy and spruce up the place. If you’re going to get serious about your at-home DIY, you’re going to want to head down to this market. It’s like they say: if you want a job done right you have to do it yourself, and a few minutes of haggling for tools could save you hours of arguing with whatever handyman your landlord sends into your apartment.