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China’s “Dama” focus on the good life

By Sun Ye | China Daily | Updated: 2014-05-08 09:32

China’s “Dama” focus on the good life

Jeju's temperate climate makes it a popular holiday destination. Photo by Liu Debin/For China Daily

It starts in the kitchen. The buffet actually offers steamed buns, fried rice and hot water. It even has a corner that delivers nonstop ramen. When one sits for dinner, there is baijiu (Chinese liquor) on offer and a Chinese menu option.

China’s “Dama” focus on the good life

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China’s “Dama” focus on the good life

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Considerate, but the liner has won over the 50-something women with its Italian flair as well as the comforting Chinese foods. The passengers photograph each other by the red candles, take pictures of the menu, stand up to dance to the singer when he belts out That's Amore and clap wildly. The black-and-white picture that says La Dolce Vita is the favorite backdrop for photos with friends-and yes, the majority of dama travel in packs of friends. One tells me that her husband is too sedate and not "adventurous" enough for her outings.

On deck three, the duty-free shop deck finds them busily converting yuan to dollars, comparing notes and taking advantage of a 10-percent discount as if it's money made, not spent. Shopping may well be their favorite pasttime: In both Jeju and Busan, a major chunk of time is allotted to department stores.

The dama have done meticulous homework about the duty-free goods: They tote sheets of printed-out (sometimes handwritten) notes with the names, the packaging and the recommended prices of cosmetics and ginseng goods listed. As they progress, they check off items on the shopping list, with the help of Chinese-speaking sales staff-the Shilla duty free shop in Jeju has at least one Chinese speaker per stand.

According to a report released at the end of last year by the Yonhap News Agency, 12 million foreign travelors visited South Korea in 2013 and 36 percent were Chinese.

The UnionPay cards get a solid workout and shopping bags strain under the weight of goods until the loudspeaker toting tour guide yells: "Come on Group 75! The ship won't wait!"

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