Before I moved to China I asked everyone I knew who had been there before what I should pack. I got all kinds of advice – in fact that was my very first blog post on my former blog (The Shanghai Chronicle). I took the advice seriously and pretty much packed it all (and lots more). In my two suitcases I crammed all matter of things that were used for my first 9 months in China.
Five years on, some of that advice no longer holds. The number of international stores in Shanghai has blossomed – from a Marks and Spencer where I can buy puff pastry and dresses that actually fit to the chain Watsons (a drugstore) which carries Cetaphil (my face wash). More and more of what I deem to be “normal” is appearing in the shops – and I’m guessing is also purchased by Chinese customers.
One thing that I remember specifically being warned to pack was dental floss. I was warned that Chinese people don’t care much about oral hygiene and since it was small, I should tuck it into my bag. Each time I have gone back to the US, I have continued to purchase a roll or two because it was something just not worth researching. Unfortunately, this time when I was back in the States, I forgot. My dental floss ran out only a couple days after I got back.
If I asked someone to mail it to me it would probably cost more in postage than the floss itself so I started looking for alternatives. My supermarket had some “dental floss picks” – which I bought, but was not very impressed. I had almost given up when I was in a 7-11 by my office and saw that they had dental floss. In a convenience store!
I bought a roll and took it home, examining the packaging and opened it up. It was regular dental floss. Turning the roll over, I realized that it had been made in Ireland.
That is a story of globalization. Dental floss purchased by an American woman at a convenience store in Shanghai that had been made in Ireland. It boggles the mind.
So now, I need to hope that American-style deoderant can make that same long trip!
Have you ever marveled at where the most basic of commodities comes from?