Sunday, November 18, 2007


One problem with seat of the pants wandering around lost tourism is it’s for the young and I ain’t so young anymore. All this wandering around has left me flu-ish and with sore, blistered feet. So I headed back to the drug store, a place I’ll probably be turning to with greater frequency as I age. Maybe I could score some Dr Scholl’s blister pads and keep on keepin’ on. How to explain the problem? Chinese drug stores are divided into two distinct sections with a walled divider. One part of the store is usually full of patrons, it’s the part that's solely concerned with selling soap, shampoos and cosmetics.

At times it has seemed to me that half of the female population of China is employed selling clothes, fashion accessories and cosmetics to the other half. Condoms are available on both sides of the drug store wall (my favorite Chinese condom brand names: "Jissbon" and "Six-Sex"). I've yet to see a male employed in either half of a Chinese drug store. On the side of the drug store wall where actual drugs are sold are prescription drugs, over the counter drugs (conveniently labeled "OTC") and Chinese herbal remedies. I was met on the drug store side of the drug store by three female clerks. I grabbed my left foot and said, "Ow, ow!". All three hit me with rapid fire Chinese, not a word of which did I understand. I shrugged my shoulders, pointed to my left foot and held out my left pinkie finger. My smallest toe is the one giving me the biggest grief. More Chinese, no understanding. I held out my left pinkie and pantomimed wrapping it with tape.

With that I got through. One clerk took me to the part of the store where they sold adhesive tape and band-aids. There's a business opportunity in China for the Dr Scholl company. After choosing my purchases I returned to the front of the store, where upon entering I had seen a display for Viagra. It would be a shame to come all this way and go home not knowing how much OTC Viagra costs. How much? A single dose is Y125. That's just under $17 US. But like everything else in this newly capitalist world there's a discount for buying in bulk. Party time? A box of 5 Viagra tablets sets you back a cool Y499, that's around $67 US. When I popped my eyes at the price one of the clerks brought me something cheaper, some kind of kangaroo extract. I laughed. The clerks laughed. Oh, so how did my purchase work out? Tape or no tape, my toe still hurts.

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