I live in Dalian, China, where stuff is hard to buy locally. The vast majority of our shopping is therefore done on Taobao and JD (which is conveniently located in WeChat’s menu.) But since I’m not very good at Chinese (and if you’re reading this blog, then you too, probably) I decided to make a list of things I bought in China.

NOTE: This list has a lot of geeky items. This list will be frequently updated. This list will only contain niche items of a hobbyist. This list may not be suitable for you. This list may have translation errors. This list may give you paranoia. Do not trust the list.

Let’s begin!

Phone Gear

  • 手机 (shou ji) - Phone
    • China is really diverse in what phones you can pick up. There’s Xiaomi (the biggest), Oppo, Vivo, Meizu, Oneplus… the list just goes on.
    • And this is where you can get seriously fucked. Some phones don’t do what you want them to do. Some phones just don’t work at all. Be careful and do your homework.
    • If you’re plannning to flash a custom ROM or root then definitely grab a Xiaomi or a Oneplus. Make SURE the baseband and radio stuff match what you’re going to flash or else you’ll have a brick.
    • Finally, all Android phones in China do not ship with Play Store by default. DO NOT buy from a seller that claims their phones have it. It probably means they open it with their grubby hands, flash a generic Play Store zip that has all sorts of malware and viruses on it, and then repackage hastily. Often the phone will have scratches and dings because the technician was an awful sonofabitch and there’s nothing you can do about it. Don’t buy Play-Store-pre-installed phones from China.
  • 手机金属卡套 (shou ji jin shu ka tao) - SIM card adapters
    • Cheap ones go for usually 5 yuan. Could be cheaper, but I wouldn’t want something flimsy that would break apart inside my phone.
    • Remember, if these break inside your Android phone you could potentially pay hundreds of dollars to fix the motherboard (or buy a new one). Don’t take chances!
    • However, these are very useful in a pinch. I recommend buying a bunch.

Camera Gear

  • 领夹麦克风 (ling jia mai ke feng) - Lapel microphone
    • You can get some pretty good deals on wireless lapel mics, but they can be kinda derpy, since they’re Chinese clones of similar products after all. Buy at your own discretion.
    • To search for wireless, type 无线 (wu xian) before the phrase above. To search for ones with wires, omit the phrase 无线.
  • 手机三脚架 (shou ji san jiao jia) - Phone tripods
  • 镜头 (jing tou) - Camera lens
    • Prepare to be raped by the price tag.
  • 相机 (xiang ji) - Camera (body)
    • Even more rape committed by price tag - officials investigate

Office Stationaries

  • 裁纸器 (cai zhi qi) - Paper cutters (trimmers)

Computer equipment

  • microSD 卡 (ka) - Pretty self explanatory, microSD card
    • Some people are hesitant to buy Chinese microSD cards, but as long as you buy from a reputable brand it is fine.
  • SD 卡 (ka) - SD card

Arduino/DIY

  • 杜邦线 (du bang xian) - Jumper Wires
    • These are used to plug various components into an Arduino. They’re kinda like jumper wires but have tiny metal pins sticking out at the end.
  • 电阻 (dian zu) - Resistors
    • Most sellers give you nice kits, which are a godsend when working on projects that require various resistors.
  • 乳胶手套 (ru jiao shou tao) - Latex gloves
    • This may be a weird entry, but I’ve found these to be excellent when doing soldering jobs. You really don’t want to get lead poisoning.

Audio Gear

  • MIDI 键盘 (jian pan) - MIDI keyboard

Life stuff

  • 免洗洗手液 (mian xi xi shou ye) - Alcohol-based hand sanitizer
    • These are so fucking essential in China. They’ve saved my ass (and my hands) a couple of times. They are really useful because most Chinese toilets don’t have hand soap (yeech) and the ones that do have them are fancy ones only. So yeah, definitely this if you’re planning to visit. I wouldn’t come to China without it, personally, but if you’re already here…

There’s a bunch more but I’ll update the list as I come along these items I need to buy on a recurring basis.