Buying Lingerie In China

What? No that's not a typo there in the subject line. Tonight's blog post is all about buying lingerie...in China.

No, that's not the lingerie I bought. The fish would kill me if I posted my lingerie online...or maybe not, I've never really asked him but I don't believe in over-sharing.

I met up with my girlfriend (strictly platonic, not that this matters) today to go shopping. Well, actually we went to visit a Chinese school first but I decided not to enrol. It's way too expensive and the teacher isn't great. I guess self-study it is. Unless I can find a good school / private teacher who is willing to teach me what I want to learn.

Due to the nature of tonight's topic, I don't want to leave you hanging in suspense for too long though so I won't delve further into my encounters with finding a good Mandarin teacher in China but let me tell you this much: it ain't easy.

So... After a long but fruitless meeting, my friend and I decided to head to Optic Valley shopping centre to go shopping. In hindsight, that wasn't the best idea. Yesterday was Mid-Autumn Day. A lot of people are off work today and the shopping centre was a sea of people. There's a Chinese chengyu that describes this best: 人山人海。I usually just translate it into "People Mountain People Sea". I know that that's Chinglish but there's no better way to describe China's crowds.

Despite the crowds, we still managed to eat something and then stroll around the shopping centre to look at a few things. I wonder if I can convince my fish to spend 560RMB on a handbag I really like...probably not but I'll try it anyway. We combed the shopping centre for an autumn coat for my friend but couldn't find any. We also couldn't find a suitable pair of dungarees (???). Amidst all that, we stopped in front of a lingerie shop and a sexy-looking bra caught my eyes. I pointed it out to my friend and we both agreed that it looked rather hot.

If you're not familiar with shopping in China you won't know that Chinese shopping assistants can be rather intrusive and overly helpful. They will do almost everything you ask them to, all just to get you to buy something in their store. When you enter, the entire staff welcomes you so enthusiastically that your ears ring for an hour afterwards and when you as much as look at something, a shopping assistant will immediately come to your aid and "help you" try things on, etc. Usually you don't have the time to object, you're just pushed around like a doll.

The same thing happened to me. The shopping assistant came over and agreed with us, telling us that the bra looked very good indeed. She then immediately asked me if I wanted to try it on and I laughed.

"I'm pretty sure you don't have my size", I rejected her offer politely and before I had the chance to object, she'd dragged me in further into the shop and my friend found herself holding on to my handbag while the shop assistant measured my bust with a pretty red tape and her hands. Afterwards she smiled triumphantly: "We do have your size, I'll get you the right bra."

Before I had the chance to object, she'd scuttled off and feeling a little bad I followed her and when she handed me the right bra, I politely accepted it with both hands. A second later I found myself inside the changing room, the shopping assistant had shoved me inside after repeatedly telling me to try the bra on.

I could hear my friend giggling while I tried to try the bra on but before I could actually properly do so, the shop assistant politely asked if I needed help: "I'll come in and help you." I didn't have the time to tell her that I didn't need her help and before I could actually do anything, she'd grabbed the bra from my hands and proceeded to enthusiastically tell me that my way of trying the bra on was too complicated and she'd help me. Now, I've no problems with letting another woman see my breasts but at that point I didn't know how comfortable I felt with having a stranger help me try on a bra. In Ireland people squirm when they have to hand over a pack of condoms in the pharmacy, I assure you they don't have shopping assistants who help you try on a bra.

Again, I had no chance to object and things got out of hand fairly quickly. My kind shopping assistant proceeded to adjust the bra and the straps as well as my breasts until she was satisfied. I just stood there unsure of what to do really...

Somehow the bra looked better on the hanger than on me and the shop assistant noticed fairly quickly that I didn't seem too happy. She helped me out of it, but only after asking my friend to join us in the changing room to ask for her opinion. Thankfully my friend sided with me. She too didn't like the bra and before I could object I was half naked again - she shopping assistant had helped me out of the bra and my friend left the changing room laughing. Glancing in the mirror I shrugged and covered myself. Just as well because my personal assistant pushed the curtain aside and joined me, handing me another bra. "You'll like this one," she assured me.

I did like it and sadly I told her so. Before I could object, she helped me to try it on and my breasts got another free massage. My friend was called inside again and the two ladies debated the look of the bra right in front of me. When they asked me what I thought of it, I couldn't deny that the bra felt very comfortable although I really couldn't tell you whether that was because it genuinely fitted like a glove or because my breasts were happy campers following a free massage. The fish laughed himself silly when he heard the story and even I can't stop grinning.

Let's face it, it's not every day that you unintentionally end up shopping for underwear and get your breasts massaged for free...welcome to China!!!