09 June 2006

More China news

How does that Warhol quote go? "In the future, everyone will go to China for 15 minutes"? The more people I tell about my pending move, the more people I find have been there, are going there, have opinions, whatever. I'm obviously not the first blogger to go to China, there are LOTS of great China Blogs. But I did think I was at least one of the first PF Bloggers. Not so.

MyMoneyBlog is on a family trip to Beijing. So why not take this opportunity to comment on his observations. After all, I've spent nearly twice as much time in China as he has. ;)
* Haggling is a pain in the butt, but makes a huge difference in the price you pay for stuff if you're a tourist. It's like picking a fight every time you want to buy a gift for somebody. In the end the vendor looks like you just said his mother was ugly, but you know in the end his profit margin was still astronomical.

Haggling is a pain in the butt? No! It's fun as shit! Perhaps is my Boston attitude, or because I read a lot of TalkTalkChina before I went there, but I found the haggling to be one of the better parts of the trip. The best method I found was to truly not want the item, and just walk away. Let the vendor do the work of chasing you down and showing you a price on their ubiquitous calculator.
* Smog. Beijing is way too smoggy. Even though they actually shut down entire factories to improve the air quality before the 2008 Olympics, everything is still a haze. Even on a perfectly clear day you can't see a blue sky. I couldn't live here.

That's great. I have two years of this to look forward to. Apparently the smog is much worse than it was a few years ago. Forget the sky, you can't even see the sun on most days, just a diffuse light blur that casts no shadows. Also, smog is too nice of a word. It doesn't fully capture the special blend of factory emissions, car exhaust, and the abrasive sand from the Gobi desert.
* Street food is pretty tasty and cheap, but I'm pretty sure I got ripped off a couple times since I can't read the signs. Ripped off is a bit harsh since at most I paid 50 cents more than a local would have.

Just like with buying gifts, you're only getting ripped off if you're paying more than what the item is worth to you. You will always get the "Chinese Price" for things (so they say). After walking out on a few transactions, you can probably figure out what the true "Chinese" price is, or at least what the lowest bai ren price is (still lower than the Japanese price, according to more than one vendor).

I hope MyMoneyBlog enjoys the rest of his trip. I certainly enjoyed mine. I'm not looking forward to the pollution, though.


  • We're thinking of taking a Viking River Cruise on the Yangtze with visits to Beijing, Shanghai, and Xian (terra cotta army). Thoughts?

    By Anonymous Ch'ing Ch'ing, at 10 June, 2006 21:39  

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