If you live in China, you know just how much most people have come to depend on Taobao. You can get ANYTHING on Taobao. Some of my friends from Israel just bought a shofar on Taobao, for crying out loud. (Or for blowing a horn out loud?)

And you know what makes Taobao rock even harder? FREEBIES!

Certain vendors will throw in a zengpin (free gift) with your order. I don’t know why, but it makes me pretty happy to open up a box and find a little something extra inside. (I recently retook the Five Love Languages quiz and found that my highest score was for “receiving gifts,” so maybe it’s related.) They’re certainly not expensive, but they’re usually fun, funny, and/or useful.

Taobao freebies are all winners in my book!

Here is a smattering of our most recent zengpin with the prizes I’m giving them. It’s like Kindergarten, where everyone gets a prize for something, even if it’s “Most Improved at Using Tissues Instead of Their Deskmate’s Shirt.”

1. Most Likely to Have Been Sitting on a Warehouse Shelf Since 1997


I could probably sell this Logitech mouse pad on eBay “mint in box!!!” to some of my more nostalgic peers who remember the good ol’ days when having a dial-up modem and a wired mouse made you cutting edge.

2. Most Disappointing


When I first saw this, I got really excited. I mean, at first glance, it looks like it would the PERFECT addition to the Srourl Pirate costume I’ve been working on! I’ve been looking everywhere for an authentic Srourlian eye patch, and now a vendor sends me one for free?!? What luck! But upon further inspection, I realized it’s not that kind of eye patch. It’s a pair of stick-on mini masks for beautifying your under-eye area. Dang it.

3. Craziest Coincidence


We got this washcloth as a bonus gift from one vendor, then several months later, another vendor included this hand towel in their shipment. They are an exact match! What are the chances that two vendors from different provinces would send matching linens? I guess I’d better keep ordering randomly from vendors around the country in the hopes of getting a few more pieces to round out this collection.

4. Most Terrifying


Along with my order of contact solution came this fairly standard lens care kit. The contact lens case is normal. The tweezers are also pretty common, though I personally think they are useless. But, what’s that strange addition? A mini plunger? I think you are supposed to stick this thing into your eye to suck out your contact. What?!? Ugh! Heebie-jeebies! Who thought that was a good idea?

So, we agree that it’s weird enough to have to use this implement of torture to extract your lens. But, look closer at this thing.


Now tell me you don’t hear an evil robotic voice chanting “EX – TER – MI – NATE” in increasingly higher pitches. If I find a mini angel statue in the next order, I’m calling The Doctor. And I won’t be surprise if the Police Box he shows up in is only 8″ high.

5. Most Inexplicable


Let’s note some things about this ring:

  • It is made of the same bright metallic blue guys add to their motorcycles and cars when they imagine they will be drag racing the streets of Toyko any day now.
  • Engraved on the ring is the Lord’s Prayer.
  • In Spanish.
  • It is size 19, which is enormous. It’s off the charts even for American men, who apparently have the hugest fingers in the world.

I would love to hear the backstory on this ring, wouldn’t you?

6. Most Supremely Awesome


When I ordered some gardening supplies for my little balcony herb garden, the vendor threw in a LIVE CACTUS and a LIVE SUCCULENT. They actually shipped them through the mail! And even included little pots to plant them in upon arrival. I absolutely love having plants around the house, so this zengpin will probably have a long reign as my absolute favorite Taobao freebie.


Get my next post sent right to you.

12 Times Taobao Made My Eyes Bleed

Our Three-Wheeler Just Got a Sweet Upgrade

These 9 Chinese Notebooks are All the Inspiration You Need