4 “Ugh!” Stories That Happen Before 15:00 on a Normal Day in Yiwu

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So…I live in Yiwu.

That’s in China.

It’s the place where accessories are born.

Oh, the happiness. You might think it’s magical with all the miracle of birth and all, but this is far from the truth! Let me tell you why.

Sunshine in Yiwu

Sunshine in Yiwu

So a year and a half ago, when my Israeli boss asked me “wanna move to this hellish, polluted, boring, nothing-to-do, no-people-around place”, of course I said yeah.

After jumping up and down, running around in circles and high-fiving myself Barney Style (yes, I’ve just made a “How I Met Your Mother” reference), I got on the plane.

Now, for those who know me, I’m a woman of many words, but if I had to describe Yiwu in one work, it would definitely be Ugh!

And there is no “lack of a better word”.


Allow me to begin with the (few) good facts about the city, before I trash it.

After all, I am here to paint a complete picture should you decide to make the mistake of coming to live here.

This is what Yiwu has to offer you:

  • 3 Starbucks (one is super new! Just opened last week! Come get your free vanilla frappe!)
  • 2 really really good Arab restaurants
  • 1 amazing Vietnamese bar with the best tom yam soup ever
  • 1 Latino bar
  • 2 live-band bars
  • 1 Italian restaurant
  • 3 pools, but only one is outdoor and is open 2 months a year
  • 1 bowling alley with 5 lanes
  • Numerous KTV’s
  • 1 fabulous night market
  • The famous Futian Market – only the largest wholesale market in the world
Futian market - they sell everything

Futian market – they sell everything

Futian market

Futian market


Futian market

Futian market

And that’s the end of my list. 

Nice, huh!?

Oh! There is also a very nice Chabad House. Maybe that should be at the top of my list.

Dinner when there is nothing to eat in Yiwu

Dinner when there is nothing to eat in Yiwu

Chabad yiwu

Chabad yiwu

This lovely town is manufacturing-central: located in the richest province in China – Zhejiang- and has about 1.5 million Chinese who don’t speak English.

Yiwu is business oriented, money-talking, lightly to heavily polluted depending on the time of year, speaks some sort of horrific Chinese dialect, and always understand the language of money. You know what I’m talking about: “Hello, Money!?” or “hendou hendou meiyuan (a lot of USD)” to name a few.

They are obsessed with money! And making lots of it.

See picture attached and read the translation…

People in Yiwu are obsessed with money! And making lots of it. Check out the translation of a big sign on the street…

People in Yiwu are obsessed with money! And making lots of it. Check out the translation of a big sign on the street…

Polluted Yiwu

Polluted Yiwu

I added a phone to my office :)

I added a phone to my office 🙂

I can go on about the Yiwuren (people of Yiwu) for days, but I will tell you only what I’ve went through TODAY.

Let me begin by apologizing to the nice Chinese I DO like.

So this is how a normal day of my life looks like:

The Yiwuren (people of Yiwu) are probably the most weird people I have ever met: they are rude, plain, simple, with nasty habits that range from touching to sneezing in the supermarket all over the organic section. Without covering their months. GROSS! I don’t think the perfect Caesar Salad includes non-organic germs, so thank you. The have a flare for making all sort of sounds with the mouths, mainly when coughing, spitting, chowing, drinking,…


I think this is the only city in the world in which, when you are done with you meal, and request the check with the international sign for “check please” (your hand is writing in the air), the fuyuan (waiter)  looks at you with a dumb look, comes over, asks “shen ma?” (what..?)


The person in front of me on the bus (I went to see a factory today) is yelling at the phone to someone on speaker.

They can’t hear each other and begin having a most annoying conversation, yelling (they are incapable of speaking like normal folks). And it goes like this (I will translate):

“Hello! Hello!? Hello!!! I can’t here you! can you hear me!? 

Yes I can hear you! Hello?!!? Hello! 

Are you coming home!? Hello? Oh, you are on your way?!! 

I didn’t hear what you said!! Can you say again!? 

I said I am on the bus coming home!!!! Hello!!…”

and so on…

Of course they can’t hear you!

You are on speaker!

On a fucking bus!

While the driver won’t stop honking at slow cars, contemplating all ways possible for passing over the cars in front of him: from the right, from the left, passing between two cars, creating a new lane, driving on the other side of the road, driving on the sidewalk, running over an old lady.


The famous Yiwu drivers… all stand in the traffic jam and nowhere to go. Ugh!

The famous Yiwu drivers… all stand in the traffic jam and nowhere to go. Ugh!

My last story of the day (oh dear God it’s only 15:00…) includes butterflies.

Not the cute pretty colorful kind, the dead kind.

On a plate.

For lunch.


I was told this is a vegetable turned caterpillar and I need to eat it before it becomes a butterfly.

Lunch anyone?

Naturally I said I am a vegetarian (which is why they ordered this dish in the first place!!) and went to the bathroom to throw up.

No, I’m kidding.

But I took a picture.

I love sharing gross things with others.

It gives me a sense of fairness in an unfair world.


Vegetarian dish in Yiwu. Bon appetit!

Vegetarian dish in Yiwu. Bon appetit!

So, the people, yes the people, are what makes this city worth avoiding at all costs.

More to come should you need more stories of this lovely town.

Do come visit us 😀

The Welcome Committee of Yiwu,


Inbar Carmeli

Inbar Carmeli born in Israel. Grew up in USA. Hating Yiwu since November 2012. Pink is her favorite color. She works for an accessories company in Yiwu, China.


  1. Greg and Laura

    October 22, 2014 at 3:00 am

    Hi Inbar,

    We are a french couple (32 and 38) on a leasy bisness trip in yiwu.
    I have just read your blog, make me smile and laugh.

    I will be glad to meet you.

    Our names: Gregoire and Laura (room 1803 – kingdom hotel)
    China tel: 183 6798 5147

    Leaving on sunday 26 october.

    Plan to go to this spanish restaurant tonight (Mundiver restaurant)


  2. Sarala

    May 10, 2017 at 11:45 pm

    Dear Inbar,

    A very interesting article. Im wondering if you still live in Yiwu as i am coming down for some busines and would be nice to have a fellow female companion to show me around if you are keen.

  3. Sarah

    March 27, 2018 at 3:05 am

    Ok, but my question is… What is the Vietnamese bar called and where is it?! I’ve been dying for pho. XD

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