TIME Bizarre

The 10 Strangest Things on Taobao, China’s Biggest Online Trading Platform

Alibaba Group To Split Taobao Online Retail Unit Into Three
Nelson Ching/Bloomberg via Getty Images From left, Etao.com, Tmall.com and Taobao.com websites are arranged on a computer in Beijing in June, 2011. Alibaba Group Holding, China's biggest online-commerce company, reorganized its Taobao retail unit into three companies to better meet customer demands, chief executive Jack Ma said

Taobao literally means "panning for gold." Here are some of it oddest treasures

Fancy a trip to space? Or perhaps you’d like to buy Michael Jackson’s crumbling Neverland resort, a snip at $100 million?

You can buy pretty much anything on Taobao — China’s version of eBay and its biggest online trading platform. The only catch is you need to be able to read and write Chinese. By geographical default, Taobao is a made-in-China bonanza where you can snap up everything from inconspicuous everyday items like clothes and furniture to more incongruous things such as wedding flip-flops — for the casual bride — or a bouncy castle in the shape of the sinking Titanic.

Last week, Taobao was named the most valuable brand in China. Owned by China’s second richest man and 2014 TIME Person of the Year runner-up Jack Ma, it was founded in 2003, and so successful that after just three years eBay itself conceded defeat and withdrew from the Chinese market.

Where there is abundance, there is inevitable weirdness. Here are some of the more marginal treasures to be found within its millions of listings.

1. Live Glowworms

“Good. Most glowworms are alive. I will buy again,” said one reviewer. The seller promises to reimburse you if your glowworms die in transit.

2. A Fart in a Bottle

Apparently the genuine article. “I felt bad after smelling it,” said one commenter. “I have bought this many times! The smell never changes,” said another. Top marks for consistency.

3. Hire Somebody to Express Your Love

Too shy to say “I love you?” Or just not the romantic type? This service has received excellent if rather telling reviews. “Very efficient,” said one commenter, with the characteristic brevity of people availing themselves of this service.

4. Kung Fu Secrets: 30-Day Astral-Projection Training Course

In its busiest month, this made 1,031 sales, and for 20¢, why would you not give it a try? Judging by the photograph accompanying the link above, this guy has been spending a lot of time outside of his body.

5. Noisy-Neighbor Revenge Machine

Buying this 100-watt AC motor could arguably be seen as a cutting your nose to spite your face, unless you go and stay with a relative. Reviewers seemed happy enough, though.

6. Taylor Swift–Tom Hiddleston Love Insurance

Tragically, this post, like the ephemeral Hiddleswift itself, is no more, since the subculture of taking bets in the guise of “insurance” is actually illegal. Incidentally, there were so many buyers that the seller couldn’t afford to pay out to his customers.

7. Revenge Masks for High-Beam Drivers

We can all agree that there’s a name for people who flash their high beams into your rearview mirror, and it’s not suitable for daytime TV. This sucker will light up like a couple of Weeping Angels in the face of your tail-gating nemesis, who will immediately soil himself or your money back. O.K., we made that last bit up.

8. Dog Translator

If you think Rover is saying anything other than “Food food food cuddle cuddle cuddle walk walk walk,” then this is for you.

9 Kneeling-Punishment Mats

It looks like a velvet cartoon pizza, but it will turn errant knees to jelly — and not in a nice way. “After kneeling for three minutes, he begged for forgiveness,” says one reviewer.

10 Recharge Your IQ

Probably a great idea if you have purchased one or more of the above. Reviews are glowing: “Before charging my IQ, I could hardly remember my girlfriend’s name.”

— With reporting by Yang Siqi and Zhang Chi / Beijing

Tap to read full story

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com


YOU BROKE TIME.COM!

Dear TIME Reader,

As a regular visitor to TIME.com, we are sure you enjoy all the great journalism created by our editors and reporters. Great journalism has great value, and it costs money to make it. One of the main ways we cover our costs is through advertising.

The use of software that blocks ads limits our ability to provide you with the journalism you enjoy. Consider turning your Ad Blocker off so that we can continue to provide the world class journalism you have become accustomed to.

The TIME Team