China Is Cheap: The Prices I Mean

Living near New York City my entire life has really warped me. I know that nice dinners usually cost $75 a person and that a 20-minute cab ride from the city to Hoboken, New Jersey, costs $45 if you're lucky.

I'm in China now for my coverage of the year-away to the 2008 Olympic Games (shameless promotion: you'll see it all next week on CNBC) and I can't get over how cheap things seem--not factoring my multiple thousand dollar plane flight to get here.

Hummus Sandwich
Hummus Sandwich
Hummus Sandwich

My hummus sandwich just cost me $3 and that's on the high side. No need haggling for those new movie DVD's found on the streets of New York for $5. It's already down to $1 and the covers look amazing unlike those you get in America where they're trying to sell you the latest hit of "Hary Poter." You know, the classic series of books written by K.J. Rowling.

The cab rides are the most amazing things. I was in a taxi for 1 hour and 15 minutes yesterday and paid $8. No tip expected, by the way.

Its so cheap I've caught myself feeling sorry. Like yesterday, before I did some interviews with Chinese athletes, I went to the Great Wall. I liked this handpainting. The woman said it was 100 Yuan. Knowing that there were others selling this kind of thing, I immediately said, "I will buy for 40." I hadn't been here long enough to have the conversion in my head. She said 50 and we settled. After it was done, I asked the guide, "How much did that cost?" "Seven dollars," he said. I, all of a sudden, wanted to give her more for her work.

It's not poverty. It's just people getting by on a different cost of living. Though I will say that having a man approach me and offer to sell his child to me for $1 was hard to fathom. I couldn't make this up, the guy practically handing me his six-month old. Here's to hoping something was lost in the translation there.

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