Monday, March 04, 2002

Just like the Soviets and sundry Eastern Europeans of yore, the Chinese do not have a freely convertible currency, so I am burning the yuan that I bought on my last day, getting value for service here at the internet center of the Beijing international airport, instead of getting back half the dollars I paid for my wad of yuan. also, I bought a phone card, a bottle of real cheap Szechuan rice wine (100 proof!), and a VCD of some weird-ass Japanese anime. And I don't like anime. But I prefer being robbed behind a price tag to being extorted at the open currency exchange window. For a capital city, Beijing has been remarkably cheap. Exclusive of the tour package, I've spent less than $500 on trinkets, beads, silks, and other tourist crap sundries. I will be posting pictures of my Chairman Mao kitsch. It is to laugh, and the Chinese are laughing, all the way to the bank. They are mad after money, in these airy windswept totalitarian boulevards of Beijing. They are mad after money, and they are mad after fame, power, wealth, and more than one child. And they have the most risible employ,ment policies that I have ever seen. Except the service, now, here, has been excellent. Okay. Random thoughts end, as I have sixty yuan more to blow.

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