Saturday, August 30, 2008

How much to pay?

How much should I pay? It's one of the great cognitive dissonances involved with traveling to countries such as China. After some lively bargaining at the flea markets, John and I were able to grab most of our souvenirs at around $2-$6 per item. While we at first enjoyed the process, the novelty effect wore off towards the end. It even became a chore at times, trying to knock off that last dollar or fifty cents. All the while, surrounding vendors are screaming at us to buy their knock-off products and/or sisters.

On the flip side, I spent $8 per drink at bars and nightclubs with nary a moment's pause. In fact, John and I probably spent more money on drinks (and karaoke rooms) than we did at the flea markets, and we went out only a few nights during our action-packed Sino-Olympic adventure.

As I finished off the remainder of my Chinese currency at the duty-free (i.e., expensive) shops, it struck me how absurd the whole situation was. It's one of the hallmarks of pronounced economic disparity.

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