Friday, June 20, 2008

Lesson 1: How to buy a soldering iron in China

We packed almost everything that we thought that we would need to do lab work in China. However, the one thing that we decided not to bring was a soldering iron due to the power conversion. We figured it would be easier to buy it here than risk trying to convert the power on it. Yesterday of course what do I need, a soldering iron!

I asked the graduate students if they had one, but no one could find me one. One of the graduate students wrote out the Chinese characters for soldering iron, the characters for the name of a store that "sells everything," and drew me a map to this store.

I figured I was on my way to a Wal-Mart or Home Depot type place. When I got to the store and went inside, I discovered it was full of hundreds of tiny stalls selling everything from goldfish to fruit to shoes. I started to laugh not sure what to do not sure how I was possibly going to find a soldering iron in here. I wandered around and bought some bananas. Finally I came across a stall that had some electronics goods. I showed the man the characters for soldering iron and voila he produced a soldering iron! I could not believe it! I only wished someone could have been with me to laugh with!

I was also confused that the soldering iron had no stand and that it plugged directly into the wall. I tried to ask this but my miming this question got me no where. I did manage to ask for solder though and he produced a small coil of solder.

When I asked how much for the soldering iron and the solder, he said 25 yuan ($3.6 dollars!). Of course I was at a market in China so I had to practice my bargaining skills. So I offered 20 yuan ($2.90) and he accepted. Great I saved MIRTHE $0.70! Although the soldering iron did the trick and saved the day, the tip fell out while I was soldering and burned my lab book! I guess you get what you pay for!

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