One of the things
One of the things that struck me as odd is how realistic movie and video game portrayals of open markets like this one are. I mean, granted, they're all put through the proper filter, but you do walk down crowded little "allies" in the open markets, where people have their wares out on blankets or on tables, and you can buy everything you can think of. Lots of "antiques" in this market - right outside of a major tourist attraction in Nanjing. But I went to other ones that had foodstuffs, household goods, tourist crap, lots of postcards, stuff like that. It was so loud and full of energy, and it was so hard to find what you wanted, but if you stumbled on it the bargaining could be fun.
(I'll admit, bargaining was more satisfying for me in Shanghai because mostly I could do it in English. When I went to other places, we did it through calculators.)
I remember the place I went to buy food in Jiangyan. Not the grocery store, but the open market they sold food in that was hidden in a alley off the main street. Bao Ying took me, and she delighted in bargaining for meat for me, which they weighed with little weights on a ... a... weighing thing where you put the one weight on one side and the other weight on the other side until they balance. Gah! I can't remember the word! *hangs head in shame* Oh well. You know what I mean.
Bargaining is like an art in China. It's apparently different in other places where you bargain, but in China it's based around smiling and being friendly and laughing, never taking it too seriously. If you take it seriously, they won't bargain with you. I bought both Raven and Crash gifts in Shanghai that took me over 30 minutes to bargain for, but I spent the whole time laughing and giggling with the shop-owners. (The one person started out with this ridiculously huge price, which I responded to with a ridiculously low price, and then we sorta laughed and got on to reasonable bargaining. It was great.)
My favorite bargaining story is one of the packs of cards I picked up. This was in Xi'an. I found it in the Muslin Quarter, and the initial offering for this deck was something like 30 yuan. I thought I bargained hard, and was happy to get it for 10 yuan. I decided later on during my trip that I wanted another deck for a friend, when to get it at another shop in the same area, and got it for 1 yuan.
You just have to find stories like that funny, or it doesn't work to go to China.
Last night had it's share of oddities at work, but nothing as bad as the naked guy wandering the halls. The really odd one was the young man with the British Passport who insisted he was staying at our hotel with his friends. No one by any of the names he gave me was staying in the hotel, and the room number he claimed that he was staying wasn't one we have. He kept arguing with me about this, then suddenly looked around the lobbey, blushed bright red, and walked out.
I think he wanted the hotel next to us.
But it's Melanie's night that takes the cake. Mel's a night auditor down the street from me (I used to work with her, for all that I'd love to claim that all night auditors, everywhere, know each other), and she got this phone call from a woman who'd called the hotel before. Both times she called, she insisted that she had a reservation at Mel's hotel, but didn't. Last time she called, she talked to Shazmin, who finally tracked down that she had a reservation at a sister hotel, but for two days later. And both Mel and Shazmin had told this woman that the hotel wasn't going to go to the airport to pick her up.
When she called this time, she asked again when the hotel would come get her at the airport. (In the background of this call, Mel could hear a noise like MSN Messenger going off every couple of minutes.) When Melanie remineded her that the hotel didn't pick up guests at the airport, this woman first insisted on talking to Shazmin. When Mel informed her that Shaz wasn't there, the woman said, "Well, can you call her at home? She said she'd come get me!"
"No, I'm not going to call her at home."
"Well, why not?"
"Because she's sleeping."
I guess soon after this Mel got sick of the whole thing and hung up on her.
I've had weirder phone calls, like the one that sudden degenerated into screaming insults and insisted that I was "having consensual sex with Mr. (General Manager) on the front desk right now!". That one was... odd....
I'm telling you, full moons in Edmonton are weird.
Scales! The word I was looking for is scales!