BEIJING – This takes some getting used to. I got a bill for 186 RMB for dinner (a little pricey for Kung Pao Chicken and a can of Coke, but there you go) at a restaurant near the Olympic Green in north Beijing and left 4 RMB change on the table.
“No,” the waitress insisted, shoving the money at me as I got up from the table. “No. No tips in China.”
This is weird. You get out of a cab and the meter says 33 RMB and you give the guy 33 RMB. No tips.
Not only do they not encourage tipping here, a lot of people insist on outright refusing them. It’s an odd feeling for a westerner. But not a bad one for a journalist on a per diem.
The waitress who refused the tip was working the other night at a place called “Hot and Spicy BBQ” near one of the media villages.
Like many restaurants in China, the people who worked there were eager to speak English. And they were pretty good, for the most part. But the menus are definitely a work in progress.
One offering was “Special tufei hog foot,” which I hadn’t tried in years. Another was for “Donkey Meat in Hot Pot,” and that was sure to raise the interest of the visiting Canadians (“Hey, kids, forget Swiss Chalet, we’re going for Donkey Hot Pot”).
One more fun item was “Tasted Chicken Wings.” Not sure who had tasted them, but I certainly didn’t.
The restaurant must have been new. After the meal, a man came rushing over to my table to ask what I thought.
“Good,” I replied. “Spicy. Really good.”
“How was the price,” he said. “Fair price?”
Imagine that in Canada.
The International Olympic Committee’s executive board on Saturday approved Vancouver’s detailed schedules for the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. Tickets will go on sale Oct. 3, but at least folks can start planning now. The Opening Ceremony will begin at 6 p.m. Pacific Time (9 p.m. Eastern) on Feb. 12 at BC Place, but the first event will be a qualification ski jump for men, beginning at Whistler Olympic Park at 10 a.m. Vancouver time. The final Olympic event will be the men’s gold medal hockey game at 12:15 p.m. on Feb. 28 at General Motors Place. The first Paralympic event will be March 13 at 9:30 a.m.; the men’s and ladies alpine ski competition, and the final Paralympic event will be the ladies and men’s one-kilometer sprint final in cross-country at noon on March 21.
Canoe racer likes the beach
Australian canoeist Clint Robinson is a smart dude. The multiple Olympic medalist said he’s going to retire from sprint canoeing after the Beijing Games and spend most of his time with surf life-saving, a big deal Down Under. But he said he’ll continue to do some canoe racing around the world.
“My wife likes international holidays,” he quipped.
Despatie goes shopping
Not sure if he’s after real Rolexes or Chairman Mao models, but Canadian diver Alex Despatie said he’ll definitely do some jewelry shopping during his time in Beijing.
“After my competitions I want to go around the markets. I’ve got friends at home and told them I’d bring them some watches; maybe a couple of pairs of shoes, we’ll see.”
The taxis here are remarkably clean and cheap. A fellow who took a couple journalists on a half-hour ride to the Tiananmen Square area racked up only about $5.50 Canadian on his meter. He stopped at traffic lights a couple times and got out his chamois to give his dashboard a wipe. All taxi drivers in town have been outfitted in spiffy new uniforms with yellow shirts and striped yellow and blue ties. Again, imagine telling a Toronto taxi driver he has to wear a uniform.
IOC president Jacques Rogge on Saturday said he’s not worried that too many athletes will skip the Opening Ceremonies next Friday, thus making the parade of athletes look skimpy. He explained that some track and field athletes won’t be in attendance because their events start later in the Games, while others won’t take part because they have events the next day and don’t want to be tired. Rogge said he missed the opening ceremonies in Montreal in 1976 because he was competing in sailing, which took place on Lake Ontario outside of Kingston.
Asked about stories of underage gymnasts representing China at the coming Games, Rogge said the IOC has been told all athletes meet the minimum age requirement of 16.
“It is not the task of the IOC to go and check all 10,500 athletes,” he said.
We’ve heard of the Soccerroos, which are Australia’s soccer players. But we didn’t know the New Zealand women’s basketball team was called the Tall Ferns. And, no, we’re not making this up.