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First Time With Taobao!

I’ve been in Chongqing for a little over one year as this blog post is released. It’s an experience that has been insightful as well as inspiring. But it did come with some obstacles.

I am an African American man who is 203cm in height with long legs, a size 47.5 feet, and pretty broad shoulders when I decide to stand up right. I also have an insatiable taste for geek/nerd culture that I’ve been accustom to having easy access to in my hometown. So, yeah, for my first month in new country, I was having a hard time with shopping. But, once I got some friends, I was introduced to something quite marvelous: Taobao.

Remark me when I say this, you’re going to be tasked with a few things on your first week in Chongqing. You will be escorted to get a phone/data plan for mobile and internet on your first day. That’s followed by a physical to make sure that everything was okay. I also got registered with the police department and, finally, got a quick tour of the area before going into training. Now, during of this, I heard the word “Taobao” so many times that I officially became intrigued. What the bloody hell is Taobao?

To keep it simple, Taobao is China’s answer to Amazon. It’s one-stop shopping for any and everything you could ever think of. And I do mean everything. Trust me, I spent the first three days - on and off - just seeing what they had to offer. That was a year ago and I’m still scratching the surface on this app of wonder I managed to get a lot of necessities for my apartment. It made redecorating relatively easy. I just can’t do clothes shopping on there; they don’t have my size. Plus, it’s better if I’m in the actual store to try them on beforehand. But I didn’t realize that everything meant…well…EVERYTHING. It’s a pretty funny story.

So, I’m a man that doesn’t like gel deodorant and can only use cocoa butter lotion. Blame it on my family for the latter though I’m also to blame since I have five tattoos that have healed faster because of said cocoa butter lotion. The problem was that I couldn’t find it in any of the local markets and the gel deodorant made me itch while any non-cocoa butter lotion just wouldn’t work. And since hygiene is really important to me - and everybody else.

One day, I said, “Why the hell not?” and typed in “Cocoa Butter Lotion” in the search box. What I saw made my jaw drop? Taobao had cocoa butter lotion - and I made sure I bought in bulk. While doing so, I did the same thing for my favourite brand of powder deodorant. My boss and I had quite a laugh about it as he was the one who introduced me to it and set it up for me. He was also the one who told me that Taobao had everything. The first few to tell me, anyway.

Believe me when I say this, when coming to China, two apps are going to be integral to your comfort: Dianping and Taobao. The former I’ll explain later and I must emphasize that you’re better off having one of Chinese friends setting it up for you. And mark me as I say that once you start using Taobao, you won’t stop. It’s I’m shopping, I’m browsing for future purchase.

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