The hotel we're staying in is surprisingly good. The beds aren't the softest, but it has a better breakfast than hotels in the States, hot water, and basic room service. When we first arrived there was a loud drilling noise from nearby. A piece of paper in our room kindly let us know that we should be "informed the items marked bellow will be done from 12/10 to 1/31." I was only annoyed at seeing "fix up and construct" checked until I saw our other options, notably "suspension of water supply."
We woke up by 5:30 at the latest because of jetlag, and after breakfast decided to go try to buy some things before our tour began. Rebecca, Colin (my roommate), Jessica, Sofia and I went exploring. I was out to buy a watch, since without my cell phone, I had no way of telling the time. We figured out the word for watch (shoubiao) and started asking around. Finally we got to a little shack where a lady offered me a watch for 10 kuai. The exchange rate is 7 kuai to 1 dollar, but even though she offered it to me for about $1.50, I figured that was probably too expensive and negotiated down to 8 kuai. Before we even got back to the hotel the strap had broken, but since I didn't like the strap, I didn't mind. Then the timekeeping part of the watch started acting up, and the only time it showed the right time was when I reset it.
During the tour some guys were hawking these really cool skates that are just two rollerblade wheels attached by a little platform. They make your shoes into the rolling kind that are popular in like 7th grade, and I thought that it was nice that they attached with a strap for easy removal. Well, the guy first said they cost 140 kuai, so I cut it about in half, offered 80, he agreed, and I had paid before I even realized that I had just paid over $10 for these plastic shoe attachments. Seeing that we were suckers, the hawkers offered everyone else a cheaper price and before they left us alone the going rate was down to 30 kuai.
Everyone in our group was convinced that I was an impulse buyer who would buy anything offered, which is funny because that's pretty much the opposite of how I spend money. The others weren't convinced, though, and took my two bad buys as proof that I didn't know what I was doing.
I really didn't know what I was doing, but I figured the more I tried to buy, the better I'd get at it, so later that day I went to buy a new watch. I found a good stall, the lady started off at 80 kuai, and then I said that I could buy a cheaper watch in America. It probably didn't come out that way, but she got the drift and went down to 50. Then I managed to tell her the story of how I had already bought a crappy watch that morning and didn't have a lot of money to spend, and that I would only spend 35 kuai. She finally relented, and I got a watch for $5. It's silver, and simple, and it still has the right time twelve hours later.