I spent the day driving from obscure little shop to even more obscure little shop, looking for mint flavouring for our daughter’s bake sale on Friday. Guess what …. CHANGCHUN HAS NO MINT FLAVOURING! I also survived the ‘wild wild west’ driving attitude so popular here. Got home and promptly bashed my toe against the table. Yep, survived the roads but have trouble navigating my house …
Anyhooo. I tracked down the baking supply shop everyone told me about, just off the corner of Hongqi Jie and Chang’an Lu. It is tiny but has a few odds and ends, but no mint. Same goes for both the Walmart stores.
What Walmart did have was a small table stacked with Halloween decorations, masks and cheesy witches’ hats. The table was crowded by Chinese parents dressing their kids up in the masks, taking photos of them and putting it back on the table. So I guess Halloween here is good enough for a photo op, but not good enough to spend money on. We’ll see if that changes over the next few years.
Westernisation (is that a word?) is however spreading fast and furious, as Changchun has just opened its third Starbucks. The chain is a favourite hangout for the hip & cool Chinese, and the bleary-eyed, caffeine deprived expats.
In the past week or so I also visited the old Flower Market (aka the Smoking Shopping Centre), saw some naked frogs, had a 2-hour full-body massage and facial for RMB220 (ridiculously cheap), had the best Chinese food in an absolute dive of a place and took a scenic drive to a hill that will soon be a ski slope.
Here are a few more Changchun snapshots. Stay tuned!