Entrance to Walmart, Chengdu The familiar yellow “falling prices” arrow greeted us at the door of the closest Wal-Mart one rainy day. The three Chinese characters used for Wal-Mart are pronounced Wo-er-ma. These characters were only chosen because the sounds they represent approximate the sound of the words Wal-Mart. (If they were literally translated it could mean either “rich like that” or “irrigate you”.  Stateside, Wal-Marts are often a culture unto themselves, and we thought visiting one here would be an interesting country to country comparison.Stacks of riceThe color scheme, sign-age, and layout, initially all felt so familiar. But we did not have to shop long before we noticed little oddities. Not big things at first – not things that made you feel like you were not in the U.S. – no, more just like a slightly alternate dimension. For example: when did Nestle start making Cheerios?Nestle CheeriosAnd these are the only peach/grape flavored Oreos I have ever seen.  Amber really likes the green tea ones.Oreo selectionWe saw Coke and orange juice for sale as a pair. The Sprite and OJ pairing I could understand but Coke and orange juice?! Perhaps the mix goes well with the snack and potato chip flavors we found.Coca Cola and orange juice packageHot pot flavored LaysDSC_0134Grilled squid flavored LaysChicken feet snacksLike other grocery stores here, there was a great bulk food section. Of course, there were lots of eggs for sale. And unlike in the U.S., where you have to buy them in containers of 6, 12, 18, or maybe 24, here you can purchase the exact amount you want. Just bag them yourself!Bulk riceBulk eggsCooking oil is pretty much only sold in the economy size. Chinese kitchens do not usually include ovens. Most things are cooked on the stove top, steamed, but quite often , in oil.Large cooking oil selectionAfter sampling amazing U.S. craft beers from one coast to the other, we often asked ourselves: who still drinks beer like Budweiser?! Well now we know. It is considered a premium imported beer. Those little red bottle-shaped cans are going for the equivalent of 2.69 USD each. In comparison, a larger can of local beer goes for about 82 cents. Apparently those million dollar Superbowl ads paid off!Budweisier selectionWe wandered through the appliance department. I had no idea there were so many variations of rice cookers! From simple to programmable, bargain to top end – two full shelves for a whole aisle.Rice cooker selectionTea is a daily staple and that, of course, takes hot water. We have seen these electric kettles for sale everywhere. We have one in our kitchen and use it several times a day. They work great. Since the electric grid in China is operating on 220 volts they get the water to a rolling boil in just a few minutes.Hot water pot selectionThese little top load washers are real space savers and work great too. We have been using one for several weeks and really like it. (It reminds me of one my grandma had many years ago when I was a kid.) We have never seen a dryer for sale in China but we have seen lots and lots of balconies, patios, awnings, window ledges, and sun porches with laundry hanging up to dry. (Another thing my grandmother used to do!) Washing machineWe completed our tour with a thorough examination of the meat and seafood department. It was extensive – complete with multiple live fish aquariums and “bulk” pork products. It was here we could definitely tell we were not in a Wal-Mart like any we had shopped before. There were dried squid…DSC_0121

Pig’s feet and intestines…Fresh pork selectionLive frogs and turtles…Frogs in a tankTurtles in a tankAnd the biggest salamander I have ever seen! It was at least 18 inches long. Apparently they grow that big, and apparently people eat them, and buy them in Wal-Mart. Salamander in a tank We only purchased a few things like some ultra pasteurized milk we found on the close-out shelf that said it was from European cows (for our coffee), bargain toothbrushes, and an umbrella. We left the salamander for shoppers who would know better what to do with it.Amber at the checkout

Coming up, pandas, pandas, pandas!