I really should say "Shopping and lunch," because what is shopping without lunch? I had one important commission to accomplish, and we decided to try the "Number 1 Department Store" at the intersection of Nanjing Road (the premiere downtown shopping area) and Xizong Road. The guidebook promised silk items at good prices, and so we headed in with high hopes. We were not disappointed! Among other bargains of the day, we found this wonderful sweater, which became an early birthday present for Fiona. It was much more fun than Macy's, much more interesting, but still a huge department store. The staff were numerous and attentive. Everyone spoke at least a word or two of English, and with Fiona's Chinese skills, we did just fine. (Plus, written numbers are the same in both languages, so we can check prices very easily. Right now, the exchange rate is about 6 Yuan to 1 dollar.) To make our purchases, we gave the item to the sales person, who wrote up a ticket. We took that ticket to the cashier (no wandering about looking for the counter -- it was right at hand), and the cashier took the credit card, and handed us the receipt, which we took back to the sales person. In the meantime, the sales person had nicely packaged our purchase, and we were ready to go.
On the way back to the hotel, Fiona and I stopped at a "Gourmet Noodle" restaurant we had spotted in a huge food court in the truly huge shopping area near the hotel. As I went off in search of the loo (a squatter down a dim passageway -- typical, and perfectly do-able if one is prepared with ones own tissues and hand soap -- which I was thanks to Fiona's excellent advice), Fiona studied the menu. I finally went for something smallish: black beans in yogurt, cold unsweetened soy milk, and "muffins." The black beans were very slightly sweet, and yogurt was just the right kind of tart. It was delicious. And the muffins (pictured below with truly wonderful spring rolls) were little cylindrical rice flour cakes with sweetened red beans on the bottom, and red bean past in the center. Wonderful!
The muffins were stamped with a red insignia -- probably of the restaurant. As usual, there were many servers. We have found that sometimes they will just appear to take one's order, and sometimes they wait for you to flag them down. Once again, Fiona's Chinese, elementary as it is, helped immensely. She could answer the waiter's question of whether we wanted cold or hot soy milk, for example. Fiona had a lovely, big bowl of noodles -- way too much, actually. We both think that people who eat a bowl that big (and everyone in the restaurant seemed to have one) probably don't eat another full meal in the same day.