When I arrived in Dege (some time in the mid-eighteenth century, I believe it was), a bloke chased me down the road trying to sell me a piece of leather.
It was, to judge by appearances, a fairly ordinary piece of leather, of the sort you might rip from a fairly ordinary cheap Chinese shoe. In fact, I think that is exactly where this piece of leather came from, because it was that-sort-of-shape, and had stitch-holes around the edge.
I don't know what was more surprising - that the bloke wanted 50 yuan for it, or that he thought I would be interested in buying it at all.
But times have moved on. A minute ago, another bloke waltzed into my wangba booth, and tried to flog me a, errr, I don't know what, really. A sort of globule. A cast-off from an injection-moulding factory. A deformed lump of plastic, striving for but not quite attaining spheroidicity. About two-thirds of an inch in diameter.
And the asking price?
If I can track him down again, I'll try to get a picture. And maybe flog it on eBay.