Daily Archives:July 15th, 2007

Forbidden pleasures

A little over a month ago I visited the Starbucks in the Forbidden City in Beijing. I was mildly embarrassed about doing so, but it was, a local friend had told me beforehand, ‘a godsend’. So I thought I could go proudly, celebrating the success of the free market over the surrounding communism… And so I paid standard global Starbucks prices for my cup of coffee. The following day, my friend and I had a delicious meal for two, with large Tsing Tao beers, at an (admittedly very primitive) back-street cafe, for substantially less than one of my cups of coffee. OK, I admit it – I had two. And they were, indeed, a godsend.

And now it’s gone. It was, actually, very discreet; I had a hard time finding it and I knew it was there. But even that was too much, apparently; everything in Beijing is being ‘tidied up’ in preparation for the Olympics and I guess this may have been a casualty.

But frankly, for any country, hosting the Olympics seems like a much bigger folly to me than hosting Starbucks…

Keeping romance at bay, the Chinese way

“Four students will be grouped together to perform the waltz and they will change partners regularly as soon as one song finishes. This way, the risk of young love will be lowered.”

BBC story here.

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser