Rolling Back The Great Wall

Welcome to a special edition of Canuck Walkabout!

In a bizarre turn of events, our hotel in Kunming was located across the street from a Wal-Mart. Yes, you read that right – an honest-to-goodness Wal-Mart Supercentre. A surprise to be sure, but a welcome one. Back in Canada we do our best to avoid going into Wal-Mart unless absolutely necessary. But in Kunming, this was far too interesting an opportunity to pass up.

One of Doug’s favourite travelling past-times (a past-time that Emily finds amusing, and tolerates mainly due to the presence of air conditioning…) is seeing other cultures’ interpretations of “Western” or “Canadian/American” culture.  What does a McDonald’s serve in Asia? What does a movie theater look like in Malaysia? What about a shopping mall? You can learn a lot about a culture by exploring their interpretations of western culture. And perhaps more interestingly, its an opportunity to understand how our culture is viewed by others around the world. Next time you’re abroad, give it a try. You may be surprised at what you find.

So thanks to our hotel location, we had the opportunity to answer one of life’s great questions: If everything in a Canadian Wal-Mart is made in China, where is the stuff in a Chinese Wal-Mart made? Let’s take a stroll through a Chinese Wal-Mart and find out!

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Looks pretty normal so far…We could just be in Markham.
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They have rows of lockers outside. They don’t look like post office boxes, so we aren’t sure what exactly they are used for.
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In front of the store is a row of vendors (mostly closed in this picture because its early). They were selling food and household goods.
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Out back they have a basketball court and ping pong tables, for the staff to use on break we assume.
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Let’s head inside…..yup, looks like a Wal-Mart alright. Except with even less shopping cart etiquette than a Canadian Wal-Mart, if you can even imagine such insanity.
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I’ve got my swim trunks, and my…outdoor slippers.  That doesn’t have as nice a ring to it.
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So many of the clothes just have random English words on them.  Emily saw this a lot in Taiwan and we are seeing it all over China.  Often the words make no sense, its just random English.
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Sultry underwear pose. Looks like unrealistic body images are a thing here too. Emily is suitably aghast, as you can see. Or maybe just really tired.
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They sell alcohol!
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Fine Australian wine.
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Probably not-so-fine Chinese wine. They really weren’t creative with their branding on this one.
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Some sort of hard liquor in a container with a pull tab top. It looks like this one is not meant to be left unfinished!
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Big fish in the live tanks. The seafood section is huge. The entire store was probably half food and half other goods.
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This is a pile of some sort of dried shrimp, we think.
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The fresh food section. Of course we have no idea what any of this is. Soup? Sauce? Sure.
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The pre-cooked meat stand. The food section of the store is full of these little stands.  Doug is too tall to work at one.
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Anyone for a free sample?
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Scoop your own rice!
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A good portion of the food section is devoted to “scoop your own” random Chinese ingredients/seasoning.
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We had trouble buying apples, and put up with the following process because of craving fresh fruit. We bagged four apples and headed to the check out, but the cashier wouldn’t sell them to us.  After some time and lots of pointing, we realized we needed to visit this counter back in the produce section.  This lady weighs, bags, and tags your produce purchase.  Only then can the cashier at the front ring it in.  This way the cashiers in the front aren’t slowed down by having to weigh things, or not knowing whether its a fuji or gala apple.  It seems like a good system.
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Always be prepared with these plastic boot covers for rain!  It might be hard to see if you’re looking on a small screen, but the second circle from the right (the red one) advertises these as “Fashion”.
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Two table clothes, seemingly very similar. Yet the one on the right is labeled “multipurpose”. “What other purposes could a table cloth have?”, we mused. Probably a cape for superhero situations.
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Now on to the check out area.  It looks pretty normal, and its thankfully quite free of the self check out machines.  They’re probably against Communist work ethic.
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The way to the exit is lined with more mini-stores.  They really hit you with shopping opportunities at every chance. This was later in the evening so they’re closing up.  It makes the exit a little claustrophobic, probably by design.
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This Wal-Mart has a built in 24-hour KFC, rather than a McDonald’s or Subway like in Canada.  The KFC is accessible from inside or outside, which seems to be an upgrade on our set up back at home.  The Chinese, and really everywhere we’ve been in Asia so far, absolutely love KFC.

And now for the answer you’ve all been waiting for: where is do all these value-priced goods come from? Are you ready for it? Hold on to your seat….

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Made in China.

So there you have it.  Unexpected? Honestly, we were a little surprised.  We figured the goods would be made somewhere even cheaper than China – Vietnam? Myanmar?  But the answer was more straightforward.  Maybe we were over thinking it.

  • Doug and Emily / June 3, 2017 @ 9:08am / Dali, China @ Yimoxuan Guesthouse
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4 thoughts on “Rolling Back The Great Wall

  1. The same bag and tag system is used in the domincan republic for fruits, vegetables etc. that I learned the same way that you did. Looks like a fun store to roam around…

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