I am not off to start a love affair with China, nor anything specific Chinese, but their economic reforms during the past 15 years deserve respect. Their laogai remains controversial (if not plain an infringement on human rights!). Prisoners are put to ‘good’ (???) use through labor, unlike in South Africa, where inmates watches paid satellite TV in comfort.
Informal shopping in China has a very strong entrepreneurial flair … you must haggle for everything. The language barrier is huge, but luckily, they all keep calculators on hand. And so, the dance begins. They tap and show. You tap and show. They wave dramatic arms in the air. They tap. You tap. Now they introduce sound effects. Grunts. Moans. You should give it to them, they are passionate about profit. It is a short, yet intense engagement and whoever gives in first, normally loses. My first experience with this ‘system’ was when I wanted to buy miniature terracotta soldiers. We started at 150 yuan for a box of 5 statuettes presumably made of terracotta. Got him down to 100, shame he looks malnourished and could probably do with the money.
Bought 1 box. Glowing from my good deed, I started to take some photos of my surroundings … only to hear the same guy selling the same box set to another tourist at 20 yuan. I bought 3 more boxes, but somehow, he did not look under fed to me anymore, to the contrary I employed the luxury of traveling abroad with a strong command of the Afrikaans language. At least whilst I have learned my lesson, the sea cannot wash him clean.
By the time we left the Terracotta Museum, the going price for that stupid same box was 5 yuan. FFS!
Modes of transport contracted to make this holiday possible:
- 15km bicycle ride, Yangzhou (1)
- Battery Bus, Yangzhou (1)
- Boat cruise, Li River (1)
- Business class flights (4)
- Chairlift, Great Wall (1)
- Economy flights (3)
- Emirates airport transfers (3)
- High speed ferry, Macau (2)
- High speed train to Xi’an (1)
- Hong Kong harbor ferry (1)
- Maglev, Shanghai (1)
- MTR subway, Hong Kong (lots!)
- Private airport transfer, HK (1)
- Public bus, Macau (3)
- Subway to Terminal A, Dubai (1)
- Subway, Shanghai (1)
- Taxi Ride, Beijing (3)
- Taxi ride, Shanghai (1)
- The Venetian Casino bus (2)
- Toboggan, Great Wall (1)
- Tour company vans (4)
… and 157km walked in 14 days.
Continue reading China – part 20 (of 20).