Subject: Plenty of Tea in China
China, where I am at the moment, seems to be a bit off the beaten path. I must admit I am also covering new grounds here. Usually I don't write about the pros and contras of a country unsolicited, but this country has swept me off my feet, although I have only covered about 1%.

Perhaps, because there have not yet been any major foreign tourist developments, everything is still very non-commercialized. Waiters, taxi drivers and others don't even accept tips here, and bills are prepared with great care so that the customer pays the right price; simply amazing. Although, I am here with a chinese family, I have insisted right from the beginning to do some of the tours on my own. I covered Bejing and other places and have not been cheated out of a penny once.

I have covered many countries, from the Far East to Africa, north and beyond, Europe,and North America, but the helpfulness and friendliness of the people is unsurpassed, even in large cities. When I work my way from A to B and stop to look at the street map, most of the time someone will offer assistance unasked; unfortunately, mainly in mandarin, which I don't speak. But there is an enomous goodwill towards foreigners - well, we are not too many here, and have not messed up the people yet.

Prices of many items are way below what we would pay and US$5.- can take one in a taxi from one end of the city to the other. I bought a ceremonial sword at a market; nothing overly special, but good steel and reasonable well made; US$10. More sophisticated goods, such as beautiful vases (sorry, no Ming) can be bought for about the same price.

Not included the somewhat chaotic traffic in Tianjin, less in Bejing, one can walk the street peacefully day or night. Oh, there is the occasional person who approaches one to sell something, but it is done in a very non-aggressive way. Those who have been to North- Africa, e.g. Morocco or Egypt, know what I mean.

For those who like chinese food or simply like good food, this is a paradise which blows away any attempt to keep a diet. Yet, the food is much lighter and healthier than what we usually eat in Canada. Again, US$10 can get two person a three course dinner, seafood and all, in a good restaurant.

Clothes are of good quality and a modern pair of leather shoes which would cost US$100 in Canada can be bought here for about US$25.

I don't want to get into the places one can visit, because, from the Great Wall to the Forbidden City, there is so much to see I would not know where to start and where to end.

I sent a message to Judy Love Eastham who answered my call. I hope she received it.

Until I am back in Toronto my best regards to all Ziners Joachim