Sunday, January 25, 2009

Happy 牛 Year

It's strange to be in Xiamen during this first weekend of the Chinese New Year as it is very quiet. Most all of the shops are closed up, the market was open and full this morning but by the afternoon it too was quickly starting to empty out.

Closed stores in Xiamen

At least when we wandered we found that the ladies that we always go to when we get our shoes polished were still in town. There were about 10-12 people out waiting to polish shoes today, and when the two that we always go to saw us they lit us with big smiles and immediately started to wave us down.

Pricing, however, became something of a sticking point.
Usually Tina pays about 3 kuai - I barter more and pay 2 kaui (0.30 USD) - but today being New Years' Eve I was in a giving mood and had agreed to pay 4 kuai for a good polishing. All was going well until Tina finished first (damn her tiny feet) and gave her girl 10 kuai, this got my girl into thinking that she also deserved a little extra pay. Second problem was that I only had a 10 and thus required change. The photo above is taken after I finally convinced her that she needed to give me change and she decided that 2 kuai were all I needed. I tried to argue and the small crowd quickly formed. I've learned from them that as if I refused to move it meant that I didn't accept her agreement so I sat there and just kept saying 不好 (bu hao - no good) until she got up and walked away from me. The other shoe shiner in the purple coat told me to take her shoe polish station instead of the change - this was all done in good fun and joking (at least we believe that, these women might be cursing us when we leave). Finally I did manage to get another kaui out of her, making for an expensive 7 kaui (1.oo USD) shoe polishing...

Then to top it off, she tried to refuse the 3 kuai I wanted to give her as a tip when I said 新年快乐 (Happy New Year).

Tomorrow we are off to Malaysia, chances are we will not be posting again until we return from that trip on Sunday. Enjoy your Chinese New Year, year of the 牛 (niu), the ox or cow.

1 comment:

agreablement said...

passo per caso nel tuo blog
un saluto from Italy, ciao