The perpetual pursuit of the perfect, plump, plausibly-priced papaya

In the  previous installment of the Papaya Chronicles, I shared with you that the best price I was able to get for a papaya was about 5RMB, at the supermarket. Whenever I shop at independent vendors, I get the foreigner price. Seems they can always tell I’m not originally from China. I think my accent gives me away. In any event, last week, when I went shopping with Peggy and Fanny, they took me to an outdoor market and introduced me to their favorite papaya vendor. I selected my single papaya, he placed it on the scale, and announced the price 2RMB. I couldn’t help chuckling out loud. He laughed, too, likely because he knew foreigners don’t often get to hear those words, “Two RMB,” attached to anything in Sanya (or China) except perhaps a bus ride.

So, I asked them to tell him to remember my face (hee hee), so that when I returned, he would treat me like a regular ol’ Chinese customer since I planned to return. Then, “happy as a pig in papaya juice,” I took my new acquisition back home and enjoyed it.

Yesterday, I returned, found Mr. Fair Deal Perfect Papaya Man, he remembered me (good eye for faces), and sold me TWO papayas for 4RMB. So, I’m not exactly sure what the unit price is (my ability to palm and weigh in kg needs some work), what I do know is that this….

Costs me 2RMB, not 5, not 8, and not the 15 Mr. Papaya near Lost Hostel wanted me to pay.

So, here’s my traveler’s tip for you: when YOU come to Sanya, Hainan, and want a plump, perfect, plausibly-priced papaya, take the number 8, 16, 10, 2, 7 or 10 bus to the stop closest to original Wang Hao Supermarket #1, not the Wang Hao nearest to the bus station, but the one that’s now the new location of the original Wang Hao after the owner of the building they were renting from didn’t renew their lease, forcing them to move to the new location near the International Hotel, (got it?), and then walk through the mall, out the back, across the street, through an alley, past the covered area with the meat vendors, past the vegetable vendor ladies who may gawk at you if you’re Jamaican, step over the dog lazing in the exit, and into the open area where the fruit vendors are located, make your way through the crowd and find this man….


Mr. Fair Deal Perfect Papaya Man.

Say, Ni Hao in your best Putonghua, and then tell him that Walt, the Jamaican, sent you. Pay for your papaya, and enjoy!

Secret Sanya Sea Salt Safari! (…..don’t tell anybody!)

The ebook edition is completed, but my writing energies are still being diverted towards completing the paperback edition of Living True to Your Self. However, I’ve been able to raise my standard of living here in Hainan:

I was able to locate sea salt here in Sanya. Now, that may not seem like earth-shattering news to you, but it is for me.  I don’t eat table salt (check the ingredients of your favorite brand of supermarket-bought salt, and note the dextrose (sugar), aluminum (think “Alzheimer’s), and other unnecessary anti-caking and otherwise harmful ingredients. Sanya, being a coastal town should have natural sea salt readily available, right? You would think.

However, the authorities have convinced the people that consuming sea salt is bad and that it is most often contaminated. Whether true or not, it takes a bit of asking and searching to find it, as vendors are forbidden to sell it openly, and one has to ask (with the help of a Chinese person), the right questions, the right people, and, presumably not appear to be a government plant searching for violators.

I won’t reveal my methods, my contacts, or my supplier. I’ll just show you the hand-off.

Sea salt on Hainan

Psssst. Hey, buddy, wanna buy some sea salt?

Living True to Your Self

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  • Living True To Your Self! by Walt F.J. Goodridge
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Here’s the front and back cover copy for my new book,
    Living True to Your Self.I’m very excited about it, as it was first conceived exactly one year ago this week, but didn’t get the “green light” from the universe and my muse until I landed here in Hainan, China. So, technically, it’s the book that has taken the longest for me to write! You might consider this the “prequel” to Turn Your Passion Into Profit, as it lays the foundation for the belief system that makes turning your passion into profit possible! It’s scheduled for paperback release on or about March 15, 2011, but as a visitor to my blog, you can get an advanced preview! See offer below!

    No one can teach you
    how to live true to your self!
    Living true to your self is a unique experience
    that only
    you can teach you.


    But, what if…

    But, what if you knew someone who did it? What if you had a friend who discovered his own secret, reclaimed his power, broke free from conventional ways of thinking and living, reinvented himself, escaped the rat race, and was right now living true to himself, happily creating his dream lifestyle traveling the world from a home base on a tropical island… with the freedom and the “effortless income” stream to prove it?

    What if he were willing to recall and share with you not just what he did, but how he did it? In other words, what if he shared with you, in detail, what he truly believes about himself, about other people, and about the world? What if he shared how he motivates himself, what he actually says (or never says) to himself in order to keep going, even what he thinks about at night? What if he shared what he does (and never does), when he does it, and even what he eats in order to create (and sustain) his dream life?

    What if he were willing to do all that, and you were willing to listen? You just might pick up a valuable tip, an effective strategy, a game plan, a way of seeing your self, other people, and the world that you never thought of before. It might be something subtle, or it might be some significant information, inspiration or idea that could make all the difference in your private journey to reclaim YOUR power, break free of YOUR limitations, and live true to YOUR self!

    Take The Living True Survey Before (and after) ordering
    And here’s the special offer: Order the paperback now, using the link below, and you’ll be able to download the ebook right away. Then, when the paperback is ready in a few weeks, I’ll send that to you as well! It’s a win, win situation!

    (c) 2011 Walt Goodridge. All rights reserved.

    6 x9; 216 pages; $16.00.

    www.LivingTrueToYourSelf.com (read more!)
    Order now
    More>>

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  • Nǐ kàn shénme? (translation: Whatyou lookin’ at??)

    So, the other morning, I’m running bare-chested on the beach in Dadonghai, and, for some reason, people are staring at me. I’m really not sure why. Was it my slim, svelt, sexy physique? Was it the fact that no one else does this strange jogging thing in China except a few crazy Americans rarely spotted this far from the mainland? Was it the fact that I’m Jamaican? Was it the fact that I was the only one half-naked at this time of day (There’s a nude section of the beach, but those guys don’t come out until after sunrise). Well, I can’t be sure, but at least a few Chinese tourists thought it warranted taking a photo to document and share the strange things that happen on Hainan.

    After my jog, I approached one of the paparazzi, and mimed and signed and pidgin Putonghua’ed a request while handing him my email address. Seems I was successful in my communication, since I just got an email containing this!

    The subject line was 沙滩慢跑, which translates to “beach jogging.” Thanks, stranger!

    Dadonghai

    I’m presently at the UFO hotel in Dadonghai, Sanya, Hainan. It’s much more centrally-located, close to supermarkets, a small, but great beach and many visitors from Kazakhstan, from Russia and all over China. Note for travelers on the Jamaican in China tour of Hainan: If you take the #8 bus from the airport, get off the bus at Summer Mall (夏日百货 in Chinese; Dadonghai Square), then walk back down Yuya and you’ll see an 18-story building (next to City Hotel). the entrance to UFO is behind the 18-story building.


    UFO

    The young entrepreneur proprietors of UFO, a great, small hotel in the heart of activity in Sanya, Hainan.


    In the lobby

    On the day before my first day at UFO–while I was using their wi-fi, I met Fanny and Peggy from Changsha, college students on holiday who came to Hainan to see the ocean for the first time. Fanny (left) is studying English (to be a translator), and Peggy is studying Interior Design to perfect her artistic talents

    The girls were nice enough to go shopping with me the next day to help me communicate and locate some items I’d been interested in getting. So, we met at 8:00am the next morning and headed out by bus to the Number One Market!


    returning after a morning of shopping


    As is the custom at many of the hostels, Peggy made her mark on history by adding a painting to the wall of the UFO hotel.


    Outside the UFO!

    The girls had to leave to catch a train to Haiku, and then a boat to their next destination. So we said our goodbyes at the bus stop across the street!

    Note from Walt: If you’d like my personal recommendations of places to stay in Sanya, check out the ad below:

    On the road again!

    I made it through the high season! I’m checking into a new hotel on another side of Sanya (Dadong hai), and I now will have internet access!  While I was in the High Season Heist Hotel, I didn’t have internet access, and that allowed me to focus on some writing. I’ll be making an announcement soon! Stay tuned!


    Nomad’s Log. My syntax is changing.

    Freedom. The final frontier. These are the voyages of the Jamaican in China. His life long mission: to explore new world views, to seek a strange new life in different civilizations. To boldly go where no Jamaican man has gone before!

    Cue theme music:

    Nomad’s Log. Day 6. The year of the Rabbit.

    As I spend more time in China, I’ve noticed something strange happening. I’ve noticed that my writing syntax is changing. I wrote an email to a friend yesterday and wrote something like: You were planning on giving up that hotmail account, yes? In another instance, I wrote something like, “This is what you wanted, no?”

    As you may know, to form a question in Mandarin, you add the word “ma” to the end. “Ma” turns a statement into a question. For example, Nǐ de háizi means “your child.” When you add “ma” to the end, you get “Nǐ de háizi ma” which means “Your child, [question],” in other words “Is that your child?”

    The English equivalent would be “You were planning on giving up that hotmail account, yes?

    A Chinese Capitalism Primer Or “Would You Buy a Used Papaya from This Man?”

    All the produce in China is priced per 500g. So, when you see a sign announcing 2.20RMB for a papaya, it actually means 2.20RMB/500g, or 4.40RMB/kg. Now, then, I’ve figured out why they do that–it’s to confuse the tourists! No, really. I can prove it.

    Fruits in China
    Fruits in China
    Fruits in China

    Most tourists, say an American (or a Jamaican who used to live in New York), thinks in terms of pounds. 1kg is actually 2 lbs, so when I see 2.20RMB, I think it’s 2.20RMB per pound, but it’s not. That’s confusing enough, but here’s where the trick comes in. The street vendors who sell produce use an entirely different system of computing prices. It’s called “free market, mood-based opportunity capitalism.” In other words, they charge by the pound, gram, kilogram, weather, nationality of the purchaser, color of your shirt, or day of the week, it really could be anything, depending on mood of the seller.

    In 2009, when I visited China for the first time, I walked into a shop in Shanghai–within about an hour of landing at the airport–to buy a small 250ml bottle of water and asked the price.  Storekeeper told me 2RMB. Now I know enough to know it should be no more than 1RMB, or perhaps I was simply sensing intuitively that “the game” was on. I stepped out of the shop, called my translator in (at the time, I was traveling with Chun Yu Wang, author of Chicken Feathers and Garlic Skin,) and had her ask the price. She’s Chinese. Caught in the act, the owner shyly admitted to her it was 1.00RMB. We all laughed at his obvious, failed attempt to play and win the game.

    On another day, in Wuxi, I walked into a store to get a bag of cashews (7.50 RMB) and a bag of dried fruit (12.00RMB) with prices plainly written on the items. The shop cashier/owner punched in the prices in a calculator (she didn’t use the scanner like she did the day before), turned the small screen toward me indicating that my bill was 30RMB. Ahem. Now, I may not speak Mandarin, lady, but I went to school to be a civil engineer. We covered basic addition. First day, even. Heck, I can even do that one in my head. I took the calculator, silently punched in the numbers myself, turned the small screen back toward her showing her I would be paying 19.50 RMB. She waved her hand in disdain, took the 20RMB bill, gave me my .50 RMB change–all this in a wordless exchange of calculator buttons, bills and screen displays.

    You might have already read my tale of The Greedy Innkeeper In Xishuangbanna.

    Here in Hainan, I went to buy some nesberries, (that’s what we call it in Jamaica) sapodilla in America. The street vendor put my three nesberries on the electronic scale, punched some mood-based numbers, and asked for 20RMB, I gave him 10RMB, he laughed. I took my fruit and walked out. Say it with me now, “Someone will pay it….it just won’t be me!”

    Around the corner from the Lost Hostel here in Sanya, there’s a vendor selling fruit. Asking price for a small papaya? 20RMB. Now, I shop at the supermarket in the city centre, so I know that a small papaya costs about 5RMB. I laughed and walked away.

    The next day, as I returned from shopping, I decided I wanted a mango. I knew about what it should cost from my supermarket shopping experience. So, I walked towards Mr. Papaya’s stand, and fortunately, at the same time, there was a Chinese woman also buying mangos. So, sensing my own opportunity, I pretended to browse a little longer, delaying my purchase, lingering for a bit to give the lady a chance to select her mangos and pay for them. Then, I watched the screen of the electronic scale carefully, and noted that Mr. Papaya punched in 17RMB/kg for her mangos. (A day or two before, he had entered 29 for my mangos.) So, now that he had her mangos on the scale and told her the price, I approached him at the scale.

    He knew that I had seen the price per kilogram that he had punched in for her. I knew that HE knew that I saw the price per kilogram that he had punched in for her. So, perhaps to avoid embarrasment, he had no choice but to give me the mangos at the same price. I could be mistaken, but he didn’t seem happy, though. I paid 15RMB for my two mangos (about what I would pay at the supermarket). He gave me my fruits and said “goodbye,” (An unusual thing for him to say, actually. I’ve never had anyone tell me goodbye before. Guess he wanted me to say “goodbye,” too (in other words. leave!) before I discovered the Chinese prices for everything on his stand!

    Mr Papaya in China
    Would you buy a 20RMB papaya from this man? (Mr. Papaya)

    I imagine that some people would have paid Mr. Papaya the 20RMB for various reasons:(1) to avoid a scene because they dislike confrontation, (2) Feeling ill-equipped to communicate effectively if there’s a language barrier, (3) It’s still cheap given the conversion rate to their native currency, and (4) perhaps other reasons I simply can’t relate to.  However, there’s just something in me that won’t allow me to willingly pay for something when I know the price is being inflated simply out of what I perceive to be opportunism based on a stereotype of the unaware, easily-manipulated, easy-target foreigner.

    It’s a way of business I’ve seen in many places–different prices for different customers. It’s done in the tourism business on Saipan. It’s done in Laos, and everyone who travels has likely experienced it to some degree. Business is about seizing the opportunity to get the most you can get at any and every given moment. The cost is variable and based not on any pre-determined intrinsic or objective value, but the ability and willingness (unwitting or otherwise) of the consumer to pay.

    Now, maybe I’m being too forgiving, but I’ m not mad at the people who practice “opportunity marketing.”  You know, In some ways, it’s no different from a hair stylist charging John Edwards $400 for a haircut. Yes, it’s a bit stressful for me, since I already hate shopping. But, I don’t want to impose an outsider’s standard of how business should be done. But, I’d like to hear what YOU think.

    After he negotiated a good rate for my High Season Hainan Hotel room, my friend, Jian, emailed me the following:

    “hey Walt,I read the news last night. People are complaining to the media that the whole tourist industry of Hainan is taking advantage of the Spring festival (Chinese New Year). The local Chinese government official commented: “This is normal.” (that is, no big deal. Don’t fuss.) Now you see why people say the Chinese capitalism is actually more real than the western one.

    Mr Papaya in China


    It occurs to me, as I enjoy my 5RMB supermarket-bought papaya here in Hainan, that my friend Jian is right!

    See? I’m not the only one…

    Since I don’t have internet access in this new 100RMB/night hotel on Hainan, I get up every morning at 5:00AM, trek the 2 miles to the Lost Hostel and use their wi-fi. Have to do it early, since the speed of the internet connection slows down as more people wake up and get online. So, off I go today, whistling a happy tune, walking the empty morning streetlamp-lit streets of Hainan…..

    The streets of Hainan

    Yep, just me and my thoughts….an occasional car…..a few chickens….a rat….

    Wait a minute!

    What’s that? Up in the road…..a head?
    The streets of Hainan


    Yep, it’s a head allright…and a neck, a torso and a body!
    The streets of Hainan


    See? I’m not the only one who’s prepared to sleep on the beach to make a point.

    The streets of Hainan
    He looks European.

    Let’s hope he didn’t have a suitcase, backpack or laptop next to him when he went to sleep last night, ’cause this morning…….

    I’m not the only one….

    –Bonnie Raitt

    A Patois Primer

    How to speak Jamaican Patois PrimerFor those who have asked: Jamaica’s language is English. As a former British colony, the Jamaican political and educational system culture, habits, worldview, and social norms are influenced by British culture. (I believe my aunt in Kingston still has her 4pm cup of tea every day)

    If you’ve visited Jamaica you might think otherwise, but trust me the local “patois” spoken in Jamaica is English, but it also has elements of European (British, Spanish, Portugese) African (Ghanaian, Ethiopian), and Asian (Chinese, Indian) languages thrown in because of the range of influences–colonial, captive and immigrant–that have passed through Jamaica, its people and history.

    Patois is not a full-fledged language, per se, but shares many elements of a distinct language.

    In much the same way that two speakers of a shared language can cloak themselves in a bubble of privacy in a foreign land, (while it may be considered a bit impolite to do so), two Jamaicans in the middle of a group of people who also speak English can do the same. If you, as a native English speaker are trying your best to eavesdrop on a conversation in patois, you will have an increasingly difficult time to follow because once the Jamaicans are aware you are listening in, they can dive deeper, speak faster, even use non verbal sounds (Jamaicans: think “kiss teet” ; others: stay tuned for audio and video) and other slang to avoid detection. The speed of delivery of patois, the choice of contractions, as well as the intention behind its use all affect how decipherable it is to non-native patois speakers.

    Patois is associated with the average man, the common folk. Therefore, when someone of more elevated status in Jamaican society uses it, he or she is going back to basics, forging a bond with his audience based on the essence of Jamaicanness that unites all Jamaicans regardless of their individual social status.

    When a person speaks in patois, she wants to let the listener know that this is something heartfelt. This is something serious stripped of the pretense, pomp and parade (and even duplicity) often associated with the Queen’s English. (mek mi tell yu someting weh come fram mi ‘art)

    However, because patois IS essentially English, everyone in Jamaica understands it, and everyone in Jamaica speaks it to varying degrees of convincing authenticity. Jamaicans often joke that the unique thing about being a Jamaican educated in the Queen’s English, but speaking Jamaican patois is that “I can understand the English man, but ‘im cyah unnastan’ me!” (can’t understand me)

    Those born and raised in Jamaica–or in Jamaican families abroad–understand both. It wouldn’t be unusual to hear a conversation between a common man and, say, a judge where the common man is speaking in full back-a-bush patois, while the judge is responding in the full parliamentary-style Queen’s English. Each understanding the other perfectly. And while practically everyone in Jamaica can understand and use patois, (although some of higher social circles may deny it and distance themselves from that fact), it isn’t considered “polite, hoity toity” language.

    So, when you hear it in settings where the more standard English is called for, there is often an underlying humor associated with the choice to use patois. When I choose to use patois to make what should be a polite, sophisticated acceptance speech, for instance, there is a tongue-in-cheek aspect to it. It is not literally a “translation” into “Jamaican.” The underlying humor comes from the understanding–among Jamaicans–that I am also assuming a persona. And depending on my tone and inflections and choice of phraseology and syntax, I have “become” a common man, a country farmer, a market woman, a ganja herbsman, a Rasta Elder, grandma and grandpa, or the politically-opinionated man on the street who knows everything
    there is to know about Jamaican “politricks.”

    So, with that said, there are elements of the humor of my acceptance speech which may elude your full grasp if you are not Jamaican. And for that I apologize as this is a blog for everyone. Learn the language, please. Keep up!

    This is not a comprehensive treatise on Jamaican Patois. These are just a few thoughts I’ll probably amend at a later date. For more erudite essays on Jamaican culture and language, do a search for the works of Louise Bennet (Miss Lou in Jamaica), and also to hear the combination of Patois and English in recorded works, I’ll refer you to the works of “dub poets” Linton Kwesi Johnson, Mutabaruka and Oku Onuora.

    Update on Jamaica Blog Awards…my acceptance speeches

    I’ve been a little busy lately. However, here is the update you’ve been anxiously awaiting as well as the world premier of my acceptance speech! Are you ready?

    Oh, maybe I should say first, I did NOT win for Best Overseas Blog in the recent Jamaica Blog Awards. However, as I stated in my Walt’s Monday Mentals email #13: “My blog “Jamaican in China” didn’t win the Jamaica Blog Awards contest….but The Universe is Perfect. Competing in it made me improve my blog, being featured on the JBA website gained me new fans and followers, and I can still add “Jamaica Blog Awards Finalist” to my site and to my list of accomplishments.”

    Yes, the contest is over. The high-pressure campaign is done, but that doesn’t mean I have to toss out my acceptance speech! That’s right, I had written my acceptance speech from way back on January 8th or so (at that time, the voting would end 3 days later on JAN 11, and the reveal ceremony was still 8 days away). When I told a friend that I had written my speech, she asked, “Does that mean you know you won the Jamaicablog contest?”

    I replied to her, “The two realities need not be linked.”

    In other words, writing my speech in anticipation of, and incorporating it into the visualization of a desired reality has nothing to do with the reality as it may be presently perceived. However, I couldn’t tell her that at the time, because that would have been admitting that the reality was NOT yet manifested, and that would have violated one of the foundational principles of success thinking which you’ll find in every book from Think and Grow Rich to The Cat in The Hat! In other words, the way to create a desired reality is to “live from the feeling of the wish fulfilled” (Neville), “act as if the thing you desire has already manifested” (Napoleon Hill), and “…all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” (Jesus)

    In any event, here is my speech!

    ACCEPTANCE SPEECH VERSIONS 1 AND 2 (Written 5:41pm Canton Time, Saturday January 8, 2011)

    1. YANKEE VERSION: First, I’d like to thank the Academy, and, …oh, waitaminit, wrongspeech….Just a minute….Okay, here it is…. I’d like to thank everyone who voted for me.And I’d like to thank Angelo Villagomez, Joe Hill, Ruth Tighe and Joe Race on Saipan, who rooted for me and risked the ire of their own mailings lists by advocating to them repeatedly on my behalf! It’s finally over, guys! I’d like to thank Xavier Murphy and Jamaicans.com for hosting my blog so that it could be viewed more easily by audiences in China.I’d like to thank everyone who is photo’ed and featured in my blog, you’re my co-stars!This awards is really yours!….But, I’ll hang on to it for you!

    And, I’d like to thank the organizers and sponsors of the Jamaica Blog Awards,and, of course, the island and people of Jamaica, West Indies, where I wasborn, raised and who deserve this award as much as I do, but again, it’s my name on the marquee, so…..See you soon!

    2. YAAD VERSION: Lawdamercy! Me’d a like tank all a di massive weh did vote fi me, seen? Mi wah tank Angelo, an’ Joe an’ Rute an’ de nex’ Joe oooh did big me up to dem people-dem nuff time. It done! Mi wah tank Xavier fram Jamaicans.com ‘caw dem a di one weh did put up di blog ‘pon fidem site so di people dem inna China could sights it, seen? An’ mi wah tank all-a-unnoo oohfa pikcha deh pon di blag. Mi really wah give dis prize to unnoo, but mi wi jus’ kip it a my ‘ouse, seen?


    An’ lawce but not lease, nuff respek to di people dem who didput on disya award show, and to all a mi yaad bredrin and sistren. It come in like you an me a mek flim tigedda, but seein’ as ‘owis MY name mention inna di tikle fi di flim, mi wi jus’ hol’ onto it fi you…Caw….nuh soh it goh sometime in award, eee, star? nuh soh it goh sometime in award?* Said speed! Likkle more! Runnins! Laytah!

    *Paraphrasing dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson from “Di Great Insohreckshan” LP: Making History

    And, as I promised, I’d like to personally thank everyone who voted, as well as a particular thanks to the 64 people (yes, the most comments of any other blogger in the competition)  who commented on the award page. Angelo V, John G., Massoud M., Miki P., Gloria H., Howard W., Jaime V., Lee T., Stacey SW, Kimberly V., Josie K., Tim J, Joe R., Gayle S., Diamond D., Myrna C., Bima27, Mugs T., Rohan, Sasha P., Rachel I., Emma L., Lance C., Anna, Yaadinfo, David P., Nicole, Michael E., Tony C., Old Grumpy Radio Network,  Andrew, Tony C., Alvin, Mel C., Jacqueline, Analee V., Lewie T., Ronnie B., Vanessa G., Bobby L., Faisal L., Barbara, Kenneth Y., Ben S., Mike T., Alexander, Kwame, Richard P., Norman X., John J., Maxine, Ras Wayne, Chai, Steve, and that anonymous guy who responded to Maxine!


    As promised, to see how your comments have been forever preserved and immortalized CLICK HERE

    Fret not thyself….everyone’s happy, well almost

    FRET NOT THYSELF

    First of all, thank you for the support of all who emailed me about my last post. Apparently, my dramatic writing flair was better than I expected, or perhaps my friends are accustomed to the drama I often welcome into my life. In any event, to set things straight: I am not going to be homeless on Hainan! I repeat, I am not going to be homeless on Hainan! So Fret not thyself, and stop sending out thoughts of worry and despair–you’re killin’ my buzz! However, you can still send any money you’d like to send if it makes you feel better to do so.

    Perhaps I forgot to mention that there are ALWAYS other options, and, while I said I’m not above sleeping on the beach, I’m also not above paying extra if it’s practical. There are no electrical outlets on the beach for my laptop.


    So, let me tell you what happened!

    FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES

    In our last episode, I told you the tale of the Hainan heist, the hotel that charged me 60RMB/night and then proceeded to raise the price once I was there.

    Well, To paraphrase Country singers Garth Brooks (as well as Mark Chestnutt for those who think I don’t know Country), I have friends in high places, low places, and other-worldly extra-dimensional spaces who keep me grounded, guided and gifted with great advice and support.

    A good friend back in the states suggested that I have a Chinese friend check in with me, and tell them that they have to honor their contract with me, or otherwise they could lose their license. He suggested that I tell them I’ll call the police – since I have a receipt of sale to prove it.

    My friend also thinks I didn’t take advantage of “Junior,” and I agree, since it’s unlikely that Mom and Dad would entrust that responsibility to him unless he knew how to handle it.

    I also sent an email to some of my friends across China, and here are some of the responses I received. Essentially, my Chinese friends, agreed to seek a compromise.

    “What I would do is tell them that you will take all evidence (receipts, anything they wrote, pictures of signs showing prices, etc.) and file a complaint to the Sanya Bureau of Business Administration (工商局) and Bureau of Tourism (旅游局), but at the same time trying to negotiate a price a bit higher than what promised by the “Junior” but lower than the market. I believe they will be happy to do so.

    This is the Chinese way. Chinese people usually do not like to push things to the extreme (such as complaints or lawsuits). Instead, they are more willing to find the “middle” way both sides can accept. If you are willing to step back a little by accepting a higher price, it will be easier for them to offer you a price lower than market. If they do not, then they lose all cards, and they will be looked bad in the eyes of regulators if you do file a complaint.”

    So, long story short, after much back and forth with my friends, I decided to do things “the Chinese way” and have
    my friend, Jian, call the owner on my behalf.

    Here were my terms: Having already agreed to pay 60RMB/night, I told him (to relay to her) that I would be willing to pay 90RMB or 100RMB. In other words, it would have to be LESS than the 150RMB/day that my “Plan B” hotel down the street was going to charge, and furthermore, it would have to be LESS than double the current price (2 x 60=120RMB), since 120RMB/day was what I was paying at the youth hostel for a room in a better neighborhood that included internet access.

    Jian called her this morning, (new year’s eve) and without resorting to threatening to get the authorities involved, she agreed to 100RMB/day for a ten day stay. So, I’ll get through the high season on Hainan paying 100RMB/day which is still effectively less than the 116RMB/day that the 3,500RMB/MONTH apartment with the shared kitchen in the other side of town was asking.

    I’m sure the owner is a bit happier.


    As I told a Chinese friend, “…this is very different from the American way of ‘you’ve got the proof and the legal right, so sue ’em for all you can get!’

    Me? Well, for various reasons, including the fact that I’m in China, (and since the owner has access to my room), I’m content with taking the middle ground.

    Even though a few friends with US mindsets also chimed in that it IS about the principle, when you compare it all in US dollar terms, I’m still paying only $15US/night for a Hainan High Season Hotel! And I can relax a bit for the next 10 days and not have to worry about trudging through the streets of China with my suitcase and back-pack, as crowds look on and point….under the fireworks and moonlit night sky of New Year’s eve in China!

    But, come February 11, the adventure shall continue!

    p.s. Tonight, I’ll do something I don’t normally do. If you know me, I don’t typically buy into these “arbitrary lines” of this day or that day. However, tonight, as I spend New Year’s eve on the island of Hainan, People’s Republic of China, I shall head out into the maddening crowd and participate in the festivities! Stay tuned.

    p.p.s. I have no internet access, but….the universe is perfect. In ten days I can accomplish quite a lot without the distraction of constantly checking website stats, and email!