Written last week on the plane ride back to sweet, sweet shopping freedom…
We’re on our way back to the USA for the summer. This year has been a little light on postings. I apologize. Apparently, working full time means less time to get finished things onto the blog. I do have quite a few things started and abandoned that could perhaps still make an appearance. I have big writing goals for the summer. I always have these, of course. Maybe this year I will be able to meet some of them! Keep your fingers crossed.
But for now, an answer to a burning question! People often want to know what we bring home in the summer and the kinds of things we smuggle back in our suitcases to Shanghai. Maybe “smuggle” is the wrong word since China has never really bothered to investigate our suitcases in all the times we have gone back and forth. When we lived in Australia, I used to get stopped all the time and have things confiscated. Ranch dressing mix never made it in. It has dried milk powder in it and for the Aussies milk products of any kind were a no-no. My bags always got a thorough search. Going from the USA to China, TSA always goes through the bags as well. We get those nice little notes that inform us someone has looked through our stuff. I am sure they wonder what the hell we are doing, bringing what must look like a crazy amount of Target with us as we head to the Middle Kingdom. The Chinese probably care about some things coming in, but my ever-growing list of must haves isn’t anything they are interested in wasting their time finding. China is a busy, busy place. China has no time to worry about my suitcases full of contraband. They wave us through every single time.
To get ready for vacation, I always calculate my bags and their weight. But let’s be honest, I am only really concerned with weight on the trip back to Shanghai. I can bring home three 70 pound bags and so can Mark. The kids only get one 50 pound bag each, but still this means I can bring back 9 bags! So what do I bring from China to the USA? Empty suitcases, of course! I put bags inside bags to be sure I have enough of them for the return journey to Shanghai. I should also add that on the way back to China, those bags are filled to within half a pound of their maximum weight. Sometimes the agent checking us in will clap in appreciation. My skills are that impressive. So what’s in the bags? All this…
Things I Bring Back from the United States in No Particular Order:
- Peanut Butter
- Breakfast Cereal!
- Any and all over the counter medicine
- Crackers and Triscuits
- Dog Treats
- Granola Bars, Nutragrain Bars, Luna Bars
- Dry Onion Soup Mix
- Dry Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix
- Electronic Components for Mark
- Vanilla Extract
- Laundry detergent
- Chocolate Chips
- Shoes that fit for me
- Cheap clothes for the kids
- Shoes for the kids
- Make up
- Knitting Supplies
- Protein Powder
- Mio Drink Drops
- Cocoa (for baking)
- Cocoa Mix (for the kids to drink)
- Panko Bread Crumbs
- Dog Toys and Bones
- Ingredients for anything I want to make for Thanksgiving
- American Halloween candy
- Halloween costumes
- Dog medicine (Heartworm and Flea and Tick)
- Cat stuff
- Asthma medication
- Books for the school’s library
- Magic Erasers
- Dishwashing detergent
- BBQ Sauce (Sweet Baby Ray’s)
Yes, I know that many of these things are MADE IN CHINA. The dirty little secret here is that those things are made for export. You cannot buy them in China. Many of the other things I am hauling internationally are available in China. In order to buy them, however, I need to get a second job or take out a loan. It is very hard to just let that go when you are standing in Target and see something priced at $3 knowing that in Shanghai I would pay so so so much more.
Before you judge, I would like to mention that people we know bring in much crazier things. Entire blocks of cheddar cheese, for example. Not the small ones, mind you, but the ones from the deli. They buy the entire block and shove it in their suitcases. Someone else we know brought in a WHOLE LAMB. Yes, that’s what I said. They like lamb and they don’t trust the meat in China. While I was surprised that this managed to be something one could bring in a suitcase, I was also a little jealous that I hadn’t thought of it first. Sometimes desperation will do that to you. If you have a baby you will certainly smuggle baby formula and diapers. Luckily, I am past that stage so instead I have considered bringing back Maryland crab cakes, frozen veggie sausage, and frozen biscuits. What is left of my good sense stops me. For now. But you never know. If you happen to see us in the airport and we have a suitcase that looks a little, um, leaky, please just ignore us.