Friday Nov 02, 2007

Beijing Silk Market - Shopping & Bargain Paradise

Beijing Silk Market (a.k.a. Xiushui Silk Market) is a multi-floor shopping complex in the Beijing Downtown. It is famous for fake branded goods such as Coach and Prada purse, RayBan glasses, iPod, Silk scarves, Jeans and you name it. It's also famous for extreme bargaining. And you may be surprised how extreme is extreme by reading the tips below along with a table of comparative prices paid.

It is directly connected from the Yong'anli Subway station on Line of Subway.

Here are the basic shopping tips that I learned by talking to others and practiced during my shopping stint:

  1. Each item has three prices - Printed, American and Chinese. Typically Printed and American price are the same, may be American price slightly lower. The Chinese price is typically 50-70% of the American price. The first quote from the shopkeeper will be based upon your skin color. However the most important rule is to NEVER buy at any of the first quote price. Always quote a price that is 10% of the Chinese price and then haggle your way up. Going up is only an additional buffer and is not a necessary step. In any case, don't pay more than 15-20% of the Chinese price. You may find it ridiculous but it worked in most of the cases as you can see from the table of comparative prices below.
  2. Some of the commonly used phrases to indicate the stage of bargain are - Joking price (when the shopkeeper find the price is ridiculous), Final price (quoted multiple times from the shopkeeper, sometimes final final price) and Yes or No price (mostly used to quote the final price from the shopkeeper). You can pretty much ignore the first two prices and consider third one slightly seriously (see next point) if you are interested in the item.
  3. Be ready to NOT to buy irrespective of the item and you might end up buying it for a ridiculously low price.
  4. This is an important one. If the price is not meeting your expectation, WALK away from the shop. It may be hard to do it sometimes because you may like the item very much but force yourself out of the shop. There is a high likelihood that you'll be physically pulled in the shop so don't feel offended but stick to your price. If need be, pretend walking out of the shop and you'll see the shopkeeper shouting from the behind with your price. It's important to confirm and double confirm the price and especially the currency ;-)
  5. The magic word is "moment". If you hear this word from the shopkeeper, which most likely will be the case, that means you are likely in a position to strike a deal at your price.
  6. Some of the shopkeepers get really angry and start throwing items (mostly with clothes) around. Don't budge, this is just a tactic to show they are upset and instead keep smiling and stick to your price.
  7. Buying more than one item will get you a better price. As the prices are ridiculously cheap, it's worth buying more than one and gift it back home.
  8. A key rule is to bargain with smile and that will improve your chances of meeting your price :)

Here is a comparative table of quoted and paid prices for some of the items:

Item Quoted Paid
Silk Scarves 650 55
Denim Jacket (heavy embroidery) 1200 180
Kimono 450 40
Denim Jeans (with embroidery) 450 35
Silk Two-piece Dress for Kids 600 50

Happy shopping & bargaining!

Technorati: traveltips shopping silkmarket beijing bargain

Thursday Dec 21, 2006

Why I bought Nikon D80 ?

I've been looking around for a new digital camera for past few days as my original camera died. Initially I was looking for a compact digital camera (with second thoughts on digital SLR) and narrowed down my search to Nikon Coolpix S10 (impressive 10x optical zoom) and Canon SD 800. They both are great cameras but I did not like Coolpix S10 mainly because of the swivel design of lens (it has advantages but I'd rather have one less mechanical moving part) and non-uniform thickness of the camera. Canon SD 800 is a one of the finest in compact segment but has very limited manual controls, specially manual focus. 

So I prepared a list of features that I need:

  1. Faster operation: Instant startup (less than a second), focuses and takes photo quickly
  2. Capture fast moving action + continuous shooting (aka rapid fire shooting or burst shooting)
  3. Fully automatic + complete manual control in case I need to exploit
  4. Good resolution: at least 6-8 MP, more is ok
  5. Reuse the zoom lens (Sigma 100-300mm F4.5-6.7 UC) and filters bought for Nikon N70

#1 - #3 features are must, #4 is very common these days and #5 restricted my choice to Nikon. And after all Nikon is a well established name in cameras and offers wide variety in digital cameras so I consider it a safe bet (another personal reason listed below). After preparing the feature list, it was evident that features #1, #2 and #3 are not supported by digital compact cameras. Prosumer digital compact cameras (PROfessional features + conSUMER body) offer burst shooting but it's tend to give blurry pictures because of the slow focusing ability. So I decided to purchase a digital SLR which can serve the required functionality.

Nikon D200 is a great camera targeted at professionals but is slightly on the expensive side (approx $2000). D40 is released last month, cheap but can only Auto Focus with lenses that have built-in focus motors (my existing lenses are not motorized). Nikon D70s is now replaced with D80. The Nikon 18-135 mm lens offers outstanding performance and, according to a local camera store, often far better than the cheaper lenses shipped in other kits. D70s is a discontinued model and D80 is a great upgrade for D50. My brother (who is an advanced photographer) also has a D80 (this is the personal reason) and very happy with the results. So the combined effect is that I narrowed down my choice to D80. The internet prices range from $1180 - $1300 but I finally bought it yesterday from for $1214 (not a huge price difference from internet and the store is 5 minutes drive from my home). Christmas arrived a few days early for me this year :) has an in-depth review of the camera (make sure to select different options from the list box). Here is another excellent review from a user and provides comparison with D50/D70 and D200. A non-technical review by a user, although concise, is helpful. D80 Users Group (spanning 140 countries with approx 40,000 photographers visiting daily) has interesting discussions related to the camera. The digital cameras can be compared side-by-side if you are interested in matching the feature sets.

This camera has everything I need:

  1. 0.18 sec start-up, 80ms shutter speed and sophisticated AF system better suited for fast action photos
  2. 3 frames per second and up to 100 consecutive JPEG images
  3. Fully automatic, including different modes, and complete manual control (more than what I need and so is extensible) 
  4. 10.1 MP
  5. Supports Nikon F Mount for my existing lens

Watch and learn Digitutor (look for the button on the page) is an excellent interactive tutorial to learn about D80 features. I'll play with the camera over next few days and, in the process, also revise my photography skills.

Technorati: nikon d80 digital photography dslr nikon shopping


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Arun Gupta is a technology enthusiast, a passionate runner, author, and a community guy who works for Oracle Corp.

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