Wang Chung in Chinatown.

I just got back from a trip to New York City with some of the boys, and as all my trips to the Big Apple go, somehow I always end up in Chinatown. Usually lured by the dim sum and amused by the antics: the hustle, the bustle, the smells, the sights, the hanging poultry in the windows, the floundering fish, the unidentified street food. And then, you have the infamous "knockoff purse dealers".

My dim sum quest will usually always land me at Mandarin Court, which is about as authentic as it gets--not for the squeamish, but highly recommended by many. But this story is not about dim sum. Back to the purses. Armed with a shopping list for the girls in our lives (i.e. sisters), we proceed with our tote quest. Three guys. Shopping for purses.

It was not long before we figure out the tricks of the trade. You see, the best knockoffs are not the ones that are obvious to find. If you stand on any of the busy corners and just yell "Purses?" you'll instantly be flocked by Chinese women armed with mini catalogues. Pointing to the one we liked we were then escorted down one of the alleys, led by a young Oriental girl who looked like she just leapt out from the pages of an Anime comic. We'll call her Sayuri.

We're half-way down the alley when Sayuri asks us to wait as she calls her partner in crime. I look around and notice that we're part of a larger group of tourists--all women. As we're all lined up against the alley wall like inmates waiting to get mug shots, New York's finest decides to drive through the alley. At that point Sayuri instantly drops to the ground and hides behind a mound of trash bags, looking back at us and laughing nonchalantly. As soon as the officer's gone, she gets back on her cell phone and motions for all of us to follow her. Three guys, and a group of women following a 20-something Oriental girl down an alley in New York City. I look back and the herd of tourists behind us had mysteriously disappeared--probably dispersed to the many "secret dwellings" where these dealings go down.

Sayuri leads us to a small door in the wall, after which another Oriental girl steps out with the purse we pointed to. Now, if you know anything about Chinatown, you know that haggling is a popular Chinese sport. We go back and forth a few times and--not agreeing on price--Sayuri is now throwing in everything but the kitchen sink. In the interest of bringing a long story to close and keeping your attention, the magic number is finally reached and we settled on a couple of black and white Chanel handbags. The only thing missing was Bob Barker calling us to "come on down".  ►SS


Anonymous said...

I can so picture you doing this! When's the next trip to NYC? I want a purse! :-) LO

Anonymous said...

Awesome and unbelievably close to my experiences. If you haven't gone into the back of the various "clinics" in Chinatown yet you are really missing something:) Love the article Sam!

Anonymous said...

Sam, you are a crack up. Too bad I don't travel anymore for work. You're a blast to hang out with. Keep on jettin'!

Anonymous said...

Funny stuff!! look forward to reading more!

Anonymous said...

too bad you haven't tried the experience of shopping for purses in minivans! lol

Post a Comment