Today, we learned all about the Chinese stock market and how complex ownership of companies can be in Asian countries. It was shocking to learn that IPOs in China can trade for 160% to 2000% more than its original price at the end of the initial release day, despite the fact that over 90% of stocks decline in value. The Chinese market was a late bloomer but it appears that in 5 to 10 years, it will be comparable to those of the west. Although there exists a “market”, it is still heavily controlled by the state, but change is definitely in the air.
After class, we took the subway for the first time. I was amazed at how clean and organized the system was. It was also a much appreciated break from taxis. We traveled to the famous Silk Market. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Silk Market, it is a 6 floor shopping complex selling mostly knock-offs – watches, bags, clothes, electronics, cosmetics, toys, etc. To fuel the intense shopping that we were about to do, we filled up on some hot pot in a restaurant on the top floor of the market. It had a spectacular view of the financial district, with the very unique CCTV building standing out amongst the other high-rises. The hotpot was delicious and a filling meal for 8 of us came to less than 200 yuan, which is between $30 to $40 (CAD).
Let me just say this: I have never been in such an intense, overwhelming, and over-stimulating shopping environment. The sellers are extremely aggressive, you must be a firm negotiator, stand behind your offer, and remember that you can always get it for cheaper than you actually paid. For example, the watch I purchased was priced at 150 yuan, and I started the offer at 20 and finally, we both settled for 40 yuan.
All the bargaining and deals gave us an adrenaline rush. With such an energy rush, we weren’t ready to go back to the hotel after the Silk Market, so we strolled to see the CCTV building up close. It sticks out like a sore thumb. I also found out about an incredibly hilarious story related to CCTV. CCTV had displayed some fireworks during Chinese National Day and accidentally set the building next to it on fire. The fireworks were televised, but the part where the building caught on fire was censored from the rest of China.