Taobao is a powerful shopping app in China made by the Chinese multinational e-commerce conglomerate—Alibaba Group. You can buy everything here. Yes, this is not an exaggeration. Everything from the regular stuff like ordering takeout, buying plane tickets, Netflix accounts, groceries, to strange ones like buying giant cruise ships, sex dolls, plastic surgery kits, air, AIDS testers, EVERYTHING is available.
As a foreigner, I was amazed at how comprehensive Taobao was when I first arrived in China back in 2016. Pretty much whenever I found myself lost about where to find something, the answer I’d get from friends is “just search on Taobao”. It’s sort of like how whenever you had a question, people would just tell you to search on Google
Taobao is sort of like the genie from Aladdin in China. The app’s nickname in China is: the Almighty Taobao.
Now, just how powerful is it you ask? Well, besides all the NSFW stuff that we’re obviously not going to cover (because they deserve their own separate article), there are tons of strange and outrageous things you can buy on Taobao. Here’s a list of some of the craziest things I’ve come across on Taobao
You can buy:
1. A bottle of an 18-year-old girl’s spit for ￥20
Yeah, I get it. A 19-year-old girl’s spit just isn’t cutting it for you anymore. If you’ve been hopping from store to store because you just couldn’t find that bottle of spit from an 18-year-old girl, well, look no further. You can purchase it on Taobao for just 20 yuan
Alright, all jokes aside, I’m not sure why anyone would ever need this. I understand there are all kinds of fetishes in the world, but this seems a little obscene. I get it, you have your own fantasies. But it just seems like there are so many other ways for you to satisfy those fantasies apart from this. Besides, there’s no way for you to verify its authenticity. But anyway, as outrageous as it sounds, if this tickles your pickles, then go for it.
2. A small bottle of fart for ￥99.9
You’d think it’s a Halloween toy by just looking at the name but, after seeing the picture, I’m not so sure anymore. I guess if your own fart just isn’t doing it for you anymore, then this is probably what you’re looking for? Again, fetishes of all kinds, huh.
I understand the need to satisfy cravings, but 100 yuan for a jar of fart is asking a little too much. Even if the seller condensed his own methane gas into that jar using some costly means, which doesn’t make a difference anyway, this is still a rip off in my opinion.
3. A Lesson
I don’t mean like a regular school lesson taught by a teacher. I mean like one of those “you’ve been a bad boy and need to be taught a lesson” kind of lesson. So, if you feel like you did something bad and needed to be punished so that you’d never do it again, then you can now treat yourself to a big old plate of “get taught a lesson” on Taobao for somewhere between 1 and 900 yuan
I guess it’s quite a sweet deal if you need someone, especially a stranger, to give you a wakeup call, or one of those “you’ve been living under a rock” realizations. Not sure what the 900 yuan lesson would be though. I’m sort of interested in who’d show up to give you the lesson. But that’s a topic for another article when (if) I actually try it out.
4. A dead mosquito’s corpse (freshly swatted)
I understand the need for bug corpses for all kinds of reasons. I just find it hilarious that they have to emphasize the “freshly swatted” part in the title. My question here is really about the logistics of the item. I mean, if I lived far away and it took the corpse 3 days to arrive, does the “freshly swatted” part still apply? I wonder how the seller would make it up to me. Maybe I’d get a 1-yuan refund?
Now this is where we enter the grey area in our legal system. See Chinese is a tonal language where different characters can have the same tone and pronunciation. For example, “jian” (fourth tone) can mean a sword or a profanity. So, some sellers are clever enough to use this potential “loophole” in the language and auto-detection system, and come up with clever (or sly) ways of naming these products that are borderline illegal depending on their purpose. So an English equivalent would be something like “a-fro-disiac”
I haven’t purchased this item yet so I’m naturally clueless to its potency and strength. But either way this seems like an immoral and deviant product to be selling openly on an e-commerce platform.
6. A cruise ship
After living in China for a year, I was already getting used to being able to purchase all kinds of transportation related items on Taobao like bicycles, rollerblades, cars, or even small ships. But cruise ships?! Yes, this is still searchable and available on Taobao today. Outstanding.
7. Gambling rocks/stones.
For lack of a better translation, this is probably the best I can do to describe this item. It’s only available through the auction section in Taobao. They are ridiculously priced because of one thing: they might contain a precious cut of emerald inside. Might.
That said, what do people do? They bet on the rock through an auction. So you can either pay a big sum for nothing or hit the jackpot and break even, or do the same with a low bid and be a happy camper. It’s all luck.
Obviously, hitting the jackpot with a low bid is what everyone’s aiming for, but what are the chances? Apparently someone did in fact get a giant emerald after winning the bid with a small sum. Pretty damn lucky if you ask me.
8. Boyfriend/girlfriend rental
Ah, yes. Besides pets, insects, and other animals you can buy, there are also channels where people offer, well, themselves. I’m not implying sex or prostitution here. People “rent” a partner usually to satisfy their parents on the topic of marriage. In other words, they hire actors to pretend to be their boyfriends/girlfriends so their parents wouldn’t nag about them being single.
This actually originated from the Chinese culture of parents rushing marriages when their kids are in their late 20s. It’s a common experience for young adults in China to have their parents nag about marriage or finding a partner during Chinese New Year. Chinese parents, most anyway, are rather adamant about marriage and having grandchildren. The Chinese have even held marriage markets for people to meet one another under the condition of marriage. The Shanghai Marriage Market is a great example.
9. A vintage European cougar statue
Uhm, not much to be said here but, wow. Great art pieces cost a fortune I understand. Maybe I just don’t have the artistic eye but, this just doesn’t look like it’s worth this much. But what do I know, right?
10. Have African kids read/sing out anything
Yes, you can ask African kids, or army soldiers, to read or sing out something for you through a Taobao purchase. What happens here is when you purchase the item, you also send in a message to the seller telling him what you’d like to be read out loud. And then the seller records a video of these African kids saying your message and sends it back to you.
These phrases or songs are usually common wishes or blessings in Chinese. Sometimes people send in famous poetry pieces from the Tang Dynasty and have these kids recite them. According to reports, it has been discovered that these children actually receive very little from these purchases because the majority of the cut has been taken by these sellers. Either way it’s outrageous to have this as an item that you can buy.
11. Out-of-body experience
Last but not least, and certainly the creepiest of them all, you can buy a lesson and book on how to trigger an out-of-body experience. Apparently, you can just buy an OBE through Taobao. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, an out-of-body experience is an experience in which a person seems to perceive the world from a location outside their physical body. So, going into an ethereal form, or being in the astral plane
The picture is already spooky enough, but now you can actually receive a lesson on how it’s done. This is perhaps one of the scariest things on Taobao you could ever buy. Shudders
Anyway, now that we’re at the end, isn’t Taobao a wonderful place now that you know all the strange stuff you can buy on it? If you have more you’d like to share with us, contact us here: firstname.lastname@example.org