My town in China is relatively small. Now, keep in mind it is small by Chinese standards, because there are 1,000,000 people here. Even though there are more people than almost every city in Canada, the 1,000,000 people here has a small town feel to it. I have never thought, “Holy crap there are too many people in this town,” because I was in too big a crowd. It is a good, quiet, town.
There are two major supermarkets in my town (along with some smaller ones). Only one of them has an “Imported Foods,” section. The other one has a few items in the store. In the imported foods section, there are juices from across Asia, there is overpriced oatmeal from Canada, as well as Whistler Spring Water from Canada. There are a few cookies from Britain, and some super pasteurized milk from Germany. The only item I have ever seen from the USA is Spam. There are an unholy number of different kinds of Spam on the shelves in the supermarket. I have never tried Spam, and I don’t plan on it. Best case scenario, I like it, then I have gotten myself a Spam habit. Worst case, it is terrible. Either way, I do not benefit.
Other than these items, there isn’t much in the store from abroad. Imported items I have bought in Fengxian are as follows, condensed milk, pasta, ketchup, and jam. I can’t even get butter, or cheese here. If I want either of those two options, it is minimum, a five hour round trip for me. I have to take a two hour bus to the big city (Xuzhou), walk 25 minutes to the supermarket, 25 minutes back to the bus, and two hours on the bus home. I have been here for 8 months, I have gone on 3 shopping trips. I have never felt like more of a country bumpkin than the first time I took a trip to the city for groceries. I bought butter, cheese, tabasco, and HP sauce.
I can survive without any of these items. I don’t mind being without, although I do love having butter on hand, because I love butter. I am glad I am living in a city with so few imported items. The reason is, if they were available, I would buy them. I know me, I know I would drop a few bucks here, and a few bucks there. Problem is, if I had a thousand imported items to buy, I would buy too many.
Not having access to the items means I don’t have to spend the money. Bottom line, I am very ok with saving money. 🙂