Long-distance sleeper buses of the cheaper, more primitive kind leave groaning with vast quantities of rope-bound packages of china. In fact, the North Bus Station is surrounded by wholesale shops. Most hotels and museums sell it, too.

Just to the south of Renmin Square (Jing Chang Li Chi Mao Da Sha, Zhu Shan Zhong Lu) is a large five-floor ceramics market with some very creative artists among the mass-produced stuff. I was particularly impressed by the deities and mythical figures in Shang Ping Studio (tel. 0798/822-2081) on the third floor, as well as the some of the porcelain paintings in Tan Qing Xuan Zhi (tel. 0798/823-5677) on the fourth floor.

Even more interesting are the back streets behind Zhejiang Lu. From the train station, head left for the Wen Yuan Business Hotel (Wen Yuan Shang Wu Da Jiu Dian, Tong Zhan Lu 36) with the golden Thai-style temple roof. On the opposite side of the road, venture into one of the small alleys to find yourself in a rabbit warren of side streets and small wholesalers. Here you will find the more exotic lines such as the Cultural Revolution reproductions, where the Red Guards stand atop kneeling intellectuals wearing dunce caps and placards, with slogans such as "Kill the Capitalist." For all China's claims of development, the sheer number of coolies dragging backbreaking carts of pots and plates shows that technology has not reached many areas of logistics and distribution at least.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.