7. Keep the change…. Oh, wait.

Soooo, many of you will probably be asking how much the cost of living is out here. Therefore, it may be useful to explain the currency and what that may mean in feet and inches. As I’m sure you are all consummately aware, the currency here is Yuan, or  Renminbi give it it’s official title. It is colloquially known as Kuai as well. The divisions are Yuan, Jiao and Fēn. As a general rule to make things easy, one British pound equates to 10 Yuan, although you would murder me on exchange rates if I opened for business! Nevertheless, the next question is how much does 10 pounds (¥100) get you? In brief, a lot. 10 pence of that gets a single ticket across the city on public transport. I don’t want to slate the bus company near me, (for anonymity, let’s call them arrivanhourlate), but a twenty minute journey into town will set you back £2.80 at last check. But 50p would get a 10-15 minute taxi ride, so travel is certainly not expensive. A pint of the imported tap larger is £1.50 and a single clove of garlic was once rejected as it had a sale value that was financially unquantifiable- I think I may have offended her because she started shouting, which was odd.
                     A further 2-3 pounds of it will get you a hearty hearty meal. You may have heard previously of the more lavish meals that can be had at a pinch more, but this is more than enough for a day-to-day meal. In fact, I’m often left baffled at how much I can get for my money. I once got change from £2 for a plate of roasted peppers and chicken, bottle of water and a Sprite. Tipping is not discouraged in China, much more unaccepted. It would not be unlikely that you should be chased down the street by a panting Chinese person, only to find that you had “forgotten” your tip on the table. Culturally, it just doesn’t exist in the main.
                     “Yet Simon!”- I hear you cry- “I can’t really relate to this- garlic, larger, cheap buses….” To that end, I hear there is something called the BigMac law, which many people can relate to as a relative cost of living. For those who understand this system, a BigMac meal here is around £1.60.
                    Nevertheless, for those who don’t, in good orderly Crashingabike fashion, I have created my own- TheCrashingABikeShoppingListIndex. I think it’s snappy, ok?
After procuring the services of some of ‘Crashing a bike’s’ international division, all of whom were asked to purchase the following shopping list, we can get a reasonable idea of how things shape up across the globe. ‘Crashing a bike’s’ trusted consultants were asked to buy the shopping list from the same place (where at all possible) at what they consider to be a reasonable- neither expensive nor inexpensive- price. That is to say that if there was a value range available, they would not necessarily get that product, nor would they be permitted haggle the market stall owner to within an inch of his livelihood if that was the case. All of these items can be readily found all around the world and can be found, but not necessarily, in Mr and Mrs Average’s shopping basket.
The partaking countries are:
UK, Mexico, China, France, Austria, South Africa and Brazil.
 The items on the list were…
-1 litre of milk
-1kg of tomatoes
-4 apples
-a standard-sized chocolate bar
-500g of pasta sauce
-2kg of rice/pasta/noodles
-6 eggs
The amounts were then converted into Pounds sterling, where necessary, and the results are below.
Country Total
Brazil £8.68
South Africa £9.52
China £5.95
UK £15.23
Austria £15.38
Mexico £6.47
France DNF, presumed missing. (a technical glitch somewhat…)
To breakdown the costs, we can also see comparative costs in the UK and China:

Item

China

UK

Tomatoes

£0.53

1.99

Chicken

£1.28

4.00

Chocolate bar

£0.32

0.72

Pasta sauce

£0.94

1.50

6 eggs

£0.36

1.90

Apples

£0.49

1.20

2kg rice

£1.00

2.80

Milk

£1.03

1.12

TOTAL

£5.95

£15.23

(There may be disputable data in the tables, please direct your complaints to the mirror. Thanks.)

So from this, we can really see where China sped away. The big winners are fruit and veg, which are not only abundant but seemingly excellent quality. Also, meat is a lot cheaper, yet the conditions that it is kept in, pre-sale, are not envious. However, I’ll admit that the animal in question probably won’t mind too much by that point. Dairy products attempt to restore some sort of parity and particularly cheese makes a Camenbert-sized hole in the pocket, which isn’t Brie-lliant. (I’ll get my coat.)

It’s not all good news, however. Some things are expensive, such as decent quality bread or imported goods (wine at £20 plus a bottle and I did once see a tin of baked beans at 3 quid a pop) but generally things are quite cheap.
A final example, to lead handily on to a subsequent blog… It has come to my attention that one can be in receipt of a full tailored suit for roughly £35- to be delivered in only a few days. It’s payday on Wednesday. I won’t spoil the ending- you will have to tune in next week. And every week for that matter.
        A timely return the the ‘You will only get answers’ section. As before, answers on a postcard.
1. After each taxi ride, you must add on 1 Yuan to the fare to cover the cost of petrol. Even if it is on a meter.
2. The cash machine only dispenses ¥100 notes or higher. (Remember the shopping list was under ¥60, so why such big notes?)
3. In supermarkets, it is possible to buy something at- for example- ¥0.72. However, as the fēn is so rarely seen, it is rounded to either ¥0.70 or ¥0.80. Odd.
Finally, huge thanks to everyone who has helped this week, crashingabike friend for life!! Also, I was as shocked as you when I readthe newspaper headline this week!!
Vu que ce blog touche une toute petite partie de l’autre côté de la manche, cette semaine je termine en French!
 Mais je dois insister que vous ne disez plus “Allez, venez!” dans la meme phrase- c’est un sale tour pour embrouiller les Anglais, donc arretez ca, et on est amis! Sans doute, si jamais il y en a assez qui desirez je j’ecrive de temps ten temps en French, je le ferai avec plaisir!!
Contactez-moi sur FB si vous l’en avez! Sinon, commentez en dessous de ce blog!!
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One thought on “7. Keep the change…. Oh, wait.

  1. […] official salary from the Chinese government amounts to roughly £1.50 per calendar month. Even by Chinese standards, this isn’t much. Odd. The rest comes from school fees, maintenance allowances and the […]

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