All-Star tour: Bargain hunting in Beijing a cultural experience

Pictured: Stanford sophomore Inky Ajanaku's new shoe collection, among other things, from Beijing's silk market.

The Pac-12 volleyball all-star team -- comprised of 13 conference players and three coaches -- is on a two-week playing tour in China. The Pac-12 Post will have an inside look at the team's experience throughout the trip, including photos, guest posts from members of the team and recaps of each match.

From USC libero Natalie Hagglund:

Sunday was a beautiful day in Beijing filled with lots of smiles and accomplished shoppers. After morning practice we all jumped on the bus in excitement and anticipation as we waited to arrive at the famous silk market! For those who are unfamiliar with the term, the silk market is a giant indoor mall filled with thousands of vendors selling deeply discounted designer items. Don't get fooled by the term "market" because I can assure you, this was not anything like an American "market." This was more like a five-story mall with vendors on every square foot, just waiting to be bargained. Before arriving to the silk market we each prepared for the mentally exhausting bargaining excursion. Questions of anxiety such as "Will I be too nice?", "Will I feel bad about lowering the price?" and "What if they say no?" fluttered throughout our van. When we entered those double doors, however, a fuse was ignited, and we immediately went mad. We scattered through the mall like eager ants scavenging every square foot. We were on a mission.

[Related: All-star team spends final day in Huaian]

Each of us developed our own bargaining tactics. For example, Lauren Plum went with a forceful strategy stating, "355 for this? This is fake! No way!" Hayley Crone went with the guilt trip stating, "I'm not stupid, so don't you rip me off now." Kelcey Dunaway attempted to overwhelm the vendors with love as she simply smiled and graciously asked for a lower price. I took the comparison route. I simply told the vendors in each store that the store right next to them was selling the exact product, but much cheaper! We all attempted to use at least one of these strategies when we bargained.

[Related: Pac-12 volleyball 2013 schedule, TV info released]

Three hours later we met at the bus. When we arrived at the bus, we were stunned at the countless bags each person had. With bright smiles, each of us pulled out our newest goodies and put them on display for the rest. We exchanged bargain stories and became extremely satisfied with our own goodies. There were headphones, purses, shoes, jewelry, makeup, perfume, clothes and electronics. Pretty much anything that you can think of buying was in the mall...and probably in a least one of our bags as well. I don't think any of us will ever forget about that silk market. It was honestly a dream come true.

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