Given the more than 1,000,000 plus people in Mandalay and the amount of wealth here, I find it a bit surprising that there are only 4 "major" grocery stores. By "major" I mean a grocery store as we would call it in the USA. There are a myriad of open air options for buying meat and produce and small stores in every neighborhood to buy basics but for a western style shopping experience, three stores.
The largest and seemingly most popular is called Ocean. It is in the basement of Diamond Plaza. Diamond Plaza is a five story vertical mall. The fifth floor is dedicated to a movie theatre and arcade style entertainment. I heard from a friend yesterday that he'd just watched the Hobbitt in 3D there. It was his first time at the theatre and he said it was on a par with American theatres. And the great news - icy cold air conditioning. Something to keep in mind this summer. And the price? $2.50 USD.
The fourth floor is dedicated to furniture stores, a couple of massage and/or salons and fast food. I was excited when they opened AFC recently - a KFC clone with tasty fried chicken. I've been there a few times but mostly hit up the sushi place, as I did yesterday. Four large pieces of shrimp sushi and six small pieces of California rolls was $2.40.
On the third floor is one of my favorite stores, which I can never remember the name of. Something like Dollar Plus. Everything isn't a dollar, but it is cheap and they sell everything from makeup, toys, clothes, dishes, cleaning supplies, etc. Yesterday I bought a monopoly game, deck of Uno cards, bag of five large clumps of plastic stuff, foot brush/pumice combo, and a cooking pot for less than $10. I don't know what I'll do with the plastic stringy stuff but it's colorful and I know there's a craft in it that first graders will love.
The second floor is clothing and shoes mostly. Since none of it fits me I never visit there. Did I mention visiting a Tesco (think Walmart) in Bangkok and the largest shoe size for women was size 6?
The main floor is mostly jewelry (artificial) and make-up. My primary reason for going there is to exchange dollars to Kyat (pronounced chawt) and to access the escalator or elevator to other levels.
Ocean, in the basement is the largest store in the mall. It is typical in Asia for grocery stores to be in the basements of large malls. Ocean is more like a Super Target than a typical grocery store. Having said that, the whole store would fit in the grocery section of a Super Target. But they have electronics, furniture, clothing, makeup, liquor and food.
Yesterday I was excited. A couple of weeks ago the government cracked down on stores selling imported goods without paying requisite taxes. So Ocean (and City Mart, the other large store) pulled all imported liquor and some of the food popular with foreigners) off the shelves. Yesterday, it was all back.
I didn't need a lot in the way of groceries but picked up a Scrabble game, two 3D dinosaur puzzles that I think my kids will go nuts over, canned corn, marshmallows, large onions (which are 3X more than the small local onions), a large bag of laundry detergent (enough for 3 months), a really large bag of the local peppers that are similar to poblanos), a can of black olives, two packages of white Irish cheddar cheese, apples, 2 cans of imported tomato paste and the grand total was $36. That's way more than I normally pay but the games and luxury imported items added up.
It cost $10 for the taxi to get to the store and back. Even with that, everything was much cheaper than in the US.
That's the facts about shopping at Diamond Plaza. In my next post, I'll describe how it feels to shop there.