It has been almost a year since we started to go out with Jennifer for shopping adventures in town. We have been to major vegetable and sea food markets, we saw Jennifer at her best when bargaining and getting the best price. We made several discoveries together of new herbs and exotic plants. We have also learned several interesting recipes using the items we found. This time we are going to do something unusual – we will take a sneak peak at the flower situation in town. If you talk to any gourmet chef you will discover that flowers are an important element of dining, whether as decoration or ingredients. So it is for Jennifer – she pays undivided attention on the flower arrangement in her life, at home and in the restaurant.
Most of us living in Dalian see those little flower shops on the streets that seam rather convenient. But did you know about the true flower paradise located on the south side of Renmin Square, a three-story building that looks more like a maze where you can find the greatest variety of fresh flowers? This is where all the little shop owners start their day. So if you ever have a free afternoon, it could be an interesting field trip to Dalian’s most fascinating shopping area.
From outside the building doesn’t look too impressive. At its several entrances you will immediately see the commotion of people running, walking in and out, carrying huge bunches of flowers. As soon as you walk through the entrance you get transported into this amazing world of fresh scent and color. All you see is flowers. Small walkways are hard to see and are just enough for one person. The space is arranged by sections: small flowers like roses and chrysanthemums are on one side; larger plants and indoor trees are on the other; you walk along between the rows of exploding green and feel like you are in a dream land, only the sales people screaming out “the best price” remind you of being in a market.
Prices here are much better than in those small shops on the street, but they change throughout the year and especially during the holidays. The only way to get the best price is to bargain and see what you get. We were there just before Chinese Valentine’s Day and the prices were higher: single chrysanthemum (single flower = yi zhi hua) were sold for 1 to 1.5 RMB and the price gets better if you buy a bunch. Roses vary from 2 to 5 RMB per flower. You can also buy just rose petals that are extremely good for your skin. It seems like each venue has its own price for these: Jennifer was able to get a small shopping bag full of rose petals for 3 RMB at one stand and couldn’t get it for less than 10 at another.
After an hour of exploring we came across the true beauty: an orchid shop. I have never seen such an incredible pattern on the flower and the price is fair: for a medium height single stem orchid (40cm) in bloom together with a nice pot, the lady wanted 30 RMB. She told us how to take care of it. The orchid doesn’t like a lot of water and direct sunlight; it blooms once a month, if happy. After the bloom is finished, it should be cut off to give chance for a new flower to be produced. Wouldn’t it make a perfect office flower?
The first and second floor look alike, but when we walked up to the third floor we saw a different picture: here you can buy all artificial flowers you can imagine. In addition, a great variety of pottery and ornaments, not to mention the massive selection of wrapping materials, flowers or presents – all can be found here.
On the way out we came across a section that sells gorgeous sunflowers. One flower like this can make such a romantic gift for your date. In some countries the sunflower is a symbol of family happiness. You can buy a single flower for 10 RMB or in a bunch that can be arranged right on the spot. If you have no time, arranged bouquets are also available.
It was another good day shopping with Jennifer. We walked out carrying a lot of different flowers to bring to The Riviera to bloom during Valentine’s Day. Our faces were blooming too, from spending a couple of hours in paradise. We all were excited and a little jealous of Jennifer, knowing that she would end her day in a rose petal bath.