Hello! I've gotten through yet another eventful week here in Kunming. So many thing's have happened: I successfully got myself out of a scam (<-- read the story), I wrote lots of reports at work, and most importantly, I got my Taobao account up and running!
Some of you probably don't know what Taobao is, but it is a fantastic online service, similar to Amazon, where you can buy all sorts of great stuff online, and get it delivered straight to your door within a matter of days. It also runs under the name Alibaba, and is available all over domestic China, I think even including some options for international delivery. Check it out here.
Unlike the states, China has a really robust group domestic delivery services, I'm not sure exactly how many, but many many more than your standard UPS/Fedex dichotomy, a fact which makes shipping really convenient. For example, I ordered coffee from Hangzhou, and it got to me here in Kunming a day and a half later (that is over 2000 kilometers folks). I was in the a delivery service office around 6pm on a saturday, and someone comes in asking if there was still time to put something out in the last shipment, and they were like oh-yeah-sure-no-problem.
Taobao is really popular in China, everyone has an account. People buy clothes, electronics, kitchen supplies, light bulbs, cleaning supplies, even food! What had me sold was that I could buy a french press coffee maker and ground coffee beans, something you'd be hard pressed to find in any regular grocery store (believe me I've looked). Another really convenient aspect about Taobao is that once you have your account set up, you can use the payment system to add value to your cell phone account, and to pay for other daily expenses.
So all in all, my life has been made easier now that I have Taobao! I can just go online, find what I want, at a fixed price, and have it delivered to me. This is so much easier than going out and hunting for whatever obscure item I want, wondering how much it is, asking the shop keeper, wondering if I should haggle, feebly trying to haggle for a moment, paying the (probably exorbitant) price, and lugging the thing home... It was totally worth all that time I spent trying to set up my account; it literally took me three entire weeks to get it right, between all the security checks the have on there, all the passwords they require you to make, all the calls to customer service.
Haha but Taobao, I commend you. You are pretty awesome. If you want to make an account, make sure that you make the payment account, 支付宝, FIRST, then open the taobao account itself, this will save you some time. Also, if you have any questions about opening account, ask me down below. I made all the mistakes possible when I opened mine, so I may be able to help you sort out your situation. Anyways, happy shopping everyone, 购物愉快！