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
    • I used to recommend people buy cheap Chinese phones. Not anymore. Read here on why.
  • 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.
  • 手机支架 (shou ji zhi jia) OR 手机座 (shou ji zuo) - Phone Stands (Holders)
    • This is so useful, my family steals this from me every day. Fuck.
    • I recommend ones that have two joints so you can flexibly place your devices on your desks. Something like this one:

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
  • LED补光灯 (bu gang deng) OR 摄影灯 (she ying deng) OR 拍照相机补光灯 (pai zhao xiang ji bu guang deng) - LED lights for cameras
  • 热靴座 (re xue zuo) - Hot shoe mount
    • For the unaware, these are little mounting screw things for the LED light bulbs above. They sit on your camera’s hot shoe and clamp the lights on top.

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
  • 耳机转换器 (er ji zhuan huan qi) OR 3.5mm音频分线器 (yin pin fen xian qi) - Audio 3.5mm splitters
    • These are used to split the standard 4-pin earphones and headphones into the more traditional 3-pin layout used by computers. Very useful if you have a lapel mic that connects to your smartphone via the 4-pin but won’t connect to your desktop workstation.

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.