I really enjoyed the shopping expedition, despite exasperating my handlers (and even my driver) at my inability to haggle properly. I suspect I even irritated the gentleman I was meant to be haggling with. I don't have getting insulted by the ridiculous price being asked, criticising the seller and the quality of his merchandise, and then threatening to walk off in a huff down, not even half-way, and at the point where the wallet (it was for me. My old one had dissolved into frayed cardboard) was significantly cheaper than it would have been in the US, I just said Okay, and paid for it.
Cygnus and Heather (who were my handlers) and the driver (who was just sort of hanging around to help carry things because it was more interesting than waiting down in the car park)immediately told me off in no uncertain terms. I had let the side down. With another ten minutes of histrionics and finger-wagging (it was made very clear to me) I could have probably got at least another couple of dollars off the price of that wallet. After that I let Cygnus and the driver do the haggling (Heather had already said goodbye and gone off somewhere, probably in disgust at my haggling crapness). I picked out things I liked, and, in the end, paid for whatever had been haggled for. They did the in-between bits.
The nice things I got were gifts for the people from Harper Collins China. The fun stuff was gifts for other people and odd things for me, like a jade disk that, I have discovered, gives me something to do with my hands on long flights.
Then back to the Beijing hotel for a marathon stint of packing -- China is a gift-giving culture, and I had been given many things -- and a trip to the airport this morning. Got onto the plane, worked on the plane until my computer died, slept a little, then changed planes in Amsterdam, and flew to Budapest where I am now posting this on the astonishingly expensive local hotel internet.
When I got on line I learned that Montreal won the 2009 Worldcon bid -- http://www.anticipationsf.ca/ is the website, where we learn that:
Anticipation, the WorldCon will be held August 6-10 at Palais des
congrès de Montréal from August 6th - 10th, 2009.
Neil Gaiman - Guest of Honour
Elisabeth Vonarburg - Invitée d'honneur
Taral Wayne - Fan Guest of Honour
David Hartwell - Editor Guest of Honour
Tom Doherty - Publisher Guest of Honour
Julie Czerneda - Master of Ceremonies
Our new mailing address is:
C.P. 105, Succursale NDG Montréal, Québec Canada H4A 3P4
And before I read the email telling me I was a guest I had already read this, from the FAQ line,
A bit nervous. Happy, too. I hope I can do it justice. Someone else wrote in to tell me that he thought I was a bit young to be a Worldcon Guest of Honour. I'll be 48 in 2009, and a couple of minutes with Wikipedia showed that Brian Aldiss, Roger Zelazny, Harlan Ellison, James Blish and Bob Silverberg were all some years younger than I am now when they were first Worldcon Guests of Honour (or, in the case of American conventions, Honor) (and there may be more -- after I found those five I stopped looking). And if anyone wishes to point out that Aldiss, Blish, Ellison, Silverberg and Zelazny were giants of the field while I'm just someone who writes stuff then they'll get no argument from me. (I'll have been earning a living by writing, and working in the SF and fantasy field for about 27 years by that point, for anyone who wondered.)