It was one of those months. I had been to Shanghai, Suzhou, Ningbo, Moganshan, and Hangzhou, and I was planning to go to Xi’an, Chengdu, and Chongqing the next week. At the end of June, I had the opportunity to visit a friend in Tokyo. Those seats. My back. The blind acupressure masseur began to recognize my voice. But it didn’t really matter. Though my body was a bit out of order, my head was rolling from all the sensory delights it had taken in: the Shanghai construction, the Tokyo subway, the Suzhou preservation, and Moganshan’s natural beauty. In a few days, it would be the Xi’an wall, Chengdu’s vitality, and Chongqing’s masses. In August it would be none other than the Beijing games. In China, one chance, have to go. Luckily, a friend in Beijing will be out of town, and I’ll be able to use his place to sleep. I’ve seen cheap hotels up north asking for over 1,500RMB per night while the games are on. Wow. It’s strange. Some stuff is still really cheap, and other things are skyrocketing. We were in a bar in Ningbo the other day and the beers were 50RMB. Double wow. It has taken me a while to really notice, but things are getting pricey. Games aside, on the whole, it’s not as cheap as it used to be. I mean 50RMB for a beer? In Ningbo? The city isn’t bad or anything, but I paid less than that in Tokyo. It was a Sunday night in July and the place wasn’t full, but it wasn’t close to being empty. What do I know? Charge 60RMB. If people are willing to pay it, why not? Those of us in the know will always be able to find the bargains. Having to constantly look around keeps us on our toes right?
A little girl ran past the balcony I was sitting on. She had a huge smile on her face. Those 1RMB ice pops really make the kids happy. I was sipping on a glass of 0RMB ice water with fresh-squeezed lemon juice. It was my usual thing to have an espresso followed by glasses upon glasses of ice water with lemon juice. Then a friend walked by with sweat dripping off his nose. This heat really teaches you how not to get upset, or not to move for that matter. He asked the waitress to have a glass of what I was drinking. Then she let me have it. “You’re a good customer, and when it was only you having lemon juice in the water, it was fine, but now everyone wants it. Now, I’m going to have to give it a price and put it on the menu, and people are going to think I’m a miser, but do you know how much those lemons cost? About 4RMB a piece, and it takes one whole lemon to make a cup of that. They’re imported.” Who knew? Sorry.
By Tim Hoerle