Thursday, April 28, 2011

High-Tech Fairs and Underground Markets

Tap, tap, tap. It’s 8:30 a.m. and there’s a knock on the door. I get up from my spot behind the computer to answer it. Opening the door a crack I spot Helen, our translator, and she’s right on time.

With our purses already packed it only takes a moment for Shelley and I to slip on our shoes and we’re out the door. This morning the hotel offers a free shuttle bus to the fair for all buyers and sellers so that makes getting there very easy.

Once we arrive we go back to the booths we had scouted out the afternoon before and begin looking at bead samples, prices, and shipping options.

By lunch time we’ve collected all the information we need so we decide to head to the bead market in Guangzhou that Helen’s friend recommended.

The shopping center where the bead markets are located is impressive. 15 stories high it towers above us and is equipped with numerous escalators and elevators.

With the help of a store owner we find an entryway between two stores and hit the basement bead markets.

Wow! Seeing the multitude of beads my breath catches in my throat. Turquoise, red, white, purple, green. Every type, colour, and size imaginable! It’s incredible.

We make our way through a maze of dark hallways past hundreds of tiny bead stores. Boxes are strewn everywhere and I watch as hundreds of workers fill them with beads.

Other workers then collect them and cart them up the stairs to waiting vans.

It’s a beehive of activity. “This is how it’s done,” I think to myself. “This is where the beads around the world come from. It’s so cool to see this!”

Walking further my eyes begin to burn and I can’t help but cough. Although there are ‘No Smoking’ signs posted everywhere the narrow hallways are thick with cigarette smoke. Discarded cigarette butts litter the floor between packing boxes, used tape and garbage. This place really has an underground feel to it.

In the stores the air is better, so we start to scout around to see what types of beads we would be interested in purchasing. By the time we’re finished it’s almost 5:00 p.m. so we head back outside to find a place to eat.

Music, mingling with the murmur of thousands of voices fills the outside square. Lights twinkle and flash, as food vendors call. Slowly twirling in a circle I try to take it all in. China is incredible.


  1. I would love to see that!

  2. Looks like such an amazing trip! I'm so glad you were able to do that! And by the way, you look so beautiful in these photos Will! Miss you tons!! So excited to see what God is doing through you and your ministries.