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Going to Zhuji May 2016 and have many questions...

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  • #31
    Hi again!

    Part 1 The trip:

    I choose to fly from Copenhagen to Shanghai and then took the bus to Yiwu from the airport. It’s a 4 hour journey but the cheapest way to get there. The easiest way would rather be the maglev train or a taxi to Shanghai North or South and then the bullet train to Yiwu, but it will be a bit more expensive.

    As told before, my budget for the pearls was limited, so I choose to make the trip as cheap as possible to save the money for the pearls.
    Think I saved at least $100-200 to do it this way.

    After a few days purchasing in Yiwu and a long talk with my agent about the pearl market , I decided not to pay for a pre-package tourist trip. Not even the offer from him to have an interpreter with me for the cost of around $80 a day + expenses of at least two reasons.
    The costs and the problem that the whole pearl market knows exactly when the tourist busses arrive and is ready to lure some tourists. I did not either know if there was some hidden business connections with the interpreter or him, my agent, and the sellers on the market.

    I suspected and later got proofed that the Agent and my interpreter had some connections with the factory order shops at the Yiwu market, but managed to go past it, but that’s another story...

    I choose to travel incognito on my own and on the same time save at least $200-400 more.

    I had a pre arrangement with the Bank Of China, and the day before withdrew 100 000 Yen (around $15 000) in cash. I knew beforehand that the only way to do business in the pearl market in the beginning is cash payment, and it was naturally a bit worrying.

    In China the largest bill is 100 Yen and it was more than 1.2 kilo (almost 2.5 pound) of bills. But the strange thing is that I felt safe all the time carrying it. I also have a business insurance that covers the most of that money. Itīs not either the first time I carry that amount of cash.
    I prepared the cash by dividing them in different coloured paper envelope of 2, 4 and 10 000 Yen, to avoid showing the whole amount at any time.

    Some days before I asked the hotel personnel to write me a note in Chinese with the place I was going to. Without this note it would have been impossible to do the trip. (Photo)

    At 06.30 the 10:th of May I walked 10 minutes to the bus station in Yiwu, showed the note and pointed on the Chinese text and said Zhuji as good as I could in Chinese. I got the ticket for a cost of 20 Yen ($3). (Photo) The buss ride took little more than one hour. Good I thought. Now I’m in Zhuji and only a short walk to the pearl market.

    But no. I needed to take a local bus (1.50 Yen) to another bus station In Zhuji. That’s the black text on the note that a very help some ticket seller wrote for me in the first Zhuji bus station with translation help from the only English-speaking Chinese out of perhaps 500 people at the station.

    Another bus for 10 minutes (8 ?Yen) and a 5 minutes’ walk to another bus station. The note saved me again and a ticket was bought. 30 min bus ride later and I was in Shan Xia Hu town.
    I could not see the pearl market at first, but after a while, after some 10 min walking I saw it.

    (photo)

    The trip back:
    With a heavy suitcase full of pearls and almost no money left at around 17.30 and when the fair closed, I decided not to stay one more day as planned. I asked the last seller where the bus station was, and he walked with me for some 10 minutes to show where it was. These phenomena to walk beside someone for quite long distance just to show the way is not uncommon in China I noticed, but have never encountered it anywhere else in the world.

    I took the bus to Zhuji and decided to take the train back to Yiwu for some reasons. I was heavy loaded and I thought that it could not be especially hard for a potential Chinese thief to figure out that a western with heavy load coming with a bus from ShanXia Hua town probably and likely have some valuables in the suitcase. Probably some pearls.
    I stepped out of the bus and took a taxi to the train station in Zhuji. (pointed on the note and showed the taxi driver) Have planned beforehand for the train, but it was quite hard for me to buy the ticket No one talked English at all. 100% no one. Only Chinese, but I got my ticket at last.
    (Photo)
    After a 20 min trip with the bullet train (photo) and nearly missed the stop at Yiwu, I took the bus 801 from the train station 20 min to the center of Yiwu (1.50 yen) and a taxi (12 Yen) to the hotel.

    At around 21.30 I was back and prepared a noodle soup in the hotel room with boiled water. When I was waiting for it to cool down I passed out in the bed and woke up 8 hours later. And yes, the noodle soup was then quite cold…

    Some days after the exhausting trip, I asked my Agent if there are not easier way to go to the pearl market and yes there are. He proposed me to hire a private driver and a car for a day next time. To ask the hotel or the fixerīs outside (to be found outside almost all the hotels in china). This will cost around $250-300 and Iīm today willing to say that it is wort every dime. Perhaps the best is to share and split the cost with someone else.

    My trip to the market and back costed me around $20, but do not advice anyone to make it the way I did.

    As told before, the program mode on the camera was on during the first photos, but luckily noticed it when I photographed only some of the pearls (some Edisons)

    Photo 1: The note that made and saved both me and the whole trip.Click image for larger version

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    2: All the tickets bought on the tripClick image for larger version

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    The rest, just ask.

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    • #32
      What a wonderful account! Thank you for sharing the details, which are terrific. Making soup and then passing out only to awaken 8 hours later gives us, the reader, so much information about the trials of your day!

      Now -- I'd love to see the pearls, of course!!!

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      • #33
        Remulus, I am enthralled with your story. You were so brave and determined as well as prepared. More details and pictures, please. I think many of us only dream of going to the source on our quest for the best and most beautiful pearls.

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        • #34
          Thank you for this wonderful account of your trip...I look forward to reading more!

          Is that the Grace Pearl facility in the 6th photo?
          http://www.oceanscovejewelry.com
          Instagram: Ocean's Cove

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          • #35
            Originally posted by JerseyPearl View Post
            Thank you for this wonderful account of your trip...I look forward to reading more!

            Is that the Grace Pearl facility in the 6th photo?
            Sorry. Don't know actually. It's A building close to the fair that I thought looked good and photographed it. Placed around 300 m from the fair.

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            • #36
              Remulus, thank you so much for walking us through your adventure... your story would make a great documentary! Please do post pictures of your purchases. I'm hooked!

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              • #37
                What an exciting report ... you are a brave and intrepid adventurer! So look forward to photos of your pearl treasures!!! Thanks for taking the time to report for us My family and I just returned from a 3 week travel adventure around the Mediterranean, along with our grandson, age 8. He was a great traveler, learning phrases in many languages, and a tireless companion ... UNTIL we got off the plane back in the US, and stopped in a local restaurant to eat before our 3 hour drive home. Somewhere between the first spoon of his soup and the second, his little head fell down on his mom's lap, sound asleep for the first time in three weeks, and we had to carry him to the car, and 3 hours later to his bed. The next morning, while we were all still jet lagged, he woke up at 5:30am, bright eyed, and went off to school to tell his friends off his adventures LOL!
                Cathy

                CathyKeshi

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                • #38
                  There is a photo of the Grace Pearl facility on their website: http://www.gracepearl.com/en/index.asp
                  http://www.oceanscovejewelry.com
                  Instagram: Ocean's Cove

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                  • #39
                    Cathy your trip sounds like it was delightful! Biggest regret as a parent: not pulling my kids out of school for trips abroad that my mother wanted to take them on when they were younger...don't know what DH and I were thinking there!
                    http://www.oceanscovejewelry.com
                    Instagram: Ocean's Cove

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                    • #40
                      Thanks Cathy for your respond. Think your grandson and me have some experiences in common except that I did not even get a single spoon of food that evening

                      Part 2:1
                      The pearls and the market.

                      Will post more pictures later as part 2:2.

                      When I entered the building, the first impression was that this would be almost impossible to get a grip of the more than 1200 vendors, small shops owned by the producers, loaded with pearls everywhere, in only one or two days.

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                      The first thing I did was to walk around for almost an hour, and actually got a little grip of the fair at last. Itīs big, Yes, but not enormous like the fair in Yiwu. Perhaps the size of a football field. Did not photograph in the beginning either. Would not like to be perceived as a tourist.

                      I then visited some of the largest vendors to hear about the pricing. I had done some preparations in Yiwu before, to get a sense of the price and began to ask for it here. I talked with an owner of a large producer and presented me as a wholesale buyer from Sweden and got some prices. After a while I was trying to press the prices really hard and told him that I represent more than 30 goldsmith shops in Sweden. Just to see how much he could adjust the prices.

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                      What I told was not all untrue, but some of it. Sorry… Iīm little ashamed. The truth is that if I can get cheap pearls of good quality to Sweden, it would not be especially hard to sell them to some of the 30 other shops I know well. We cooperate today through our insurance company that we, 31 goldsmith shops own together, and that we always help each other with some hard to get goods. And, to get good pearls in Europe is not only hard, itīs impossible I have learned from this trip.

                      After a second visit at another producer I was ready to both photograph and buy. I had a reasonable idea of the pricing. Will tell more about this later. Was threatened by the owner in the second test to be escorted out from his shop by a security officer after haggling a bit too hard.

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                      Another worry was the language. Was told that not many spoke English, and that’s true, but the shops helped each other. They called for help from another vendorīs. The language barrier was actually not a big problem strangely enough.

                      If the seller did not speak any English, the haggling and pricing was made through a calculator where the price and bid was typed or by help from others. Almost every seller knows one English phrase and can ask you the question: Retail or wholesale. You have to answer the question before you get any prices.
                      If they do not ask the question you must tell them what you are.

                      Wholesale is a floating limit of a purchase of at least 2-5000 Yen. Retail is lower. If you answer wholesale and buy for say 2000 you will get a very angry seller and no chance of any bargain or haggling what so ever. They could also ask you to leave the shop and refuse to sell, which they actually did to me once when I was trying to buy silver clasps for 2500 Yen.
                      I later got back and made the deal by buying some more clasps for a little more than 5 000 yen (around $800) but he was NOT happy about the deal. The MOQ (minimum order quantity) or rather in this case, shopping quantity as wholesale, was 10 pcs each model and at least 200, but I manage to buy 5 each model and totally 130 and haggle down the price a little.

                      Time for some pearl photos:

                      Lovely just to see them, but even greater feeling to be able to touch and hand pick them before they buy. Bought some of them to make earrings (studs).

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                      Drop formed pearls of the highest quality (not the shape thou) that I bought to make some gold earring and pendants:

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                      Bought some white pearl neclaces to match and make a full set with the white earrings and pendants above. At least AA quality.

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                      Bought a pair of 15 mm Edison from the same vendor to make gold earings (Had a costom order on that):

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                      More Edison from the same vendor, but I did not bought it:

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                      Bought 10 of these strings in different colors.

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                      And a LOT of these in low quality and different sizes and colors, just to earn money for the bread and butter:

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                      Will post more photos later. Promise!

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                      • #41
                        Wow...really great to see and read this travel log!
                        http://www.oceanscovejewelry.com
                        Instagram: Ocean's Cove

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                        • #42
                          I love how brave you were with traveling and trying to communicate. I could never do that by myself. Great story and great photographs.

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                          • #43
                            What an interesting thread and great photos!

                            Those of us who will never go ourselves thank you.

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                            • #44
                              Interesting thread, Remulus!
                              ______Perlas
                              o-o-o E Unio Plurum o-o-o

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                              • #45
                                Thank you for taking from your time to share this amazing adventure with us, Remulus !

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