An interesting feature of several department store/grocery store combos in Zibo is that you must walk through the department store to get to the grocery store. Typically, an escalator takes you up one or two flights to get in to the store, and you work your way through, down and out. I don't really mind because I am still goggling at everything and of course it's all new for Ross as well. Anyway, we were walking through the clothing department and noticed that -- OMG -- this store had larger sizes, as in sizes that might conceivably, some of them, anyway, might fit Ross's handsome broad-shouldered self and um, me too. (As our assiduous bike riding and stair climbing has not yet won the upper hand over the campaign to sample every variety of Chinese cuisine.)
So that was great news because a Chinese "large" is a "medium" or "small" to us. When I packed for China, I brought two suitcases, vacuum-packed so I could shove in as many clothes and shoes as possible. The ever-gallant program director (my "handler") from the school, had to help me haul them up the three flights of stairs to my apartment. ("What have you got in here? Gold?" he muttered). But of course the reason I had to bring a year's worth of clothing was that I can't fit Chinese sizes.
But with the advent of the humid warm weather in June, I realized that my summer wardrobe needed some backup. I really needed some more lightweight blouses and slacks. A Chinese colleague took me under her wing and drove me to the fabric market where we wandered through alleys filled with stalls of all kinds of fabric, including silk. She kindly tried to haggle for me. I can now pick out a few words of Chinese and understood the merchant to be responding, "Why should I give a discount price to a laowai?" If I could afford to fly across the Pacific, why couldn't I pay for my fabric? Hard to argue with that, I think.
Then it was off to a tailor's. Up four flights of stairs to her apartment. Taking my measurements. Wonderment and hilarity ensues. She asks for next-to-nothing to make me four tops and two slacks. Ah, much cooler in this humid heat. And what great workmanship.
So a tailor is always an option if you know what you want. Ross would like to get a Chinese man's shirt, the kind with toggles instead of buttons, and a tailor might be the way to go. But we'll keep checking back at this particular mall to see if they bring in any very large winter coats.