Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Fen Dilemma

China issues dollars and coins, and in the coin department there are 50-jiao, which is half of 1RMB, and then 10-jiao or basically 10 cents.

Then it divides further into fen, or cents, and these coins are really feather-weight. There are 5-fen, 2-fen and 1-fen coins.

Two friends of mine collect their spare change in a jar as they hate carrying coins. One time I counted most of the money in there and it amounted to over 20RMB ($2.92). They still didn't take it to the bank for some bills. So I've been helping them bit by bit get rid of these coins -- hey it's free change!

When I pay my water bill, the management office of my building accepts these fen, and allows me to get rid of these coins.

But when it comes to supermarkets, they aren't interested in these cent coins and would rather round up or down to the nearest jiao.

So when I went to get fruits at a neighbourhood grocery store the other day, I thought the shopkeeper would accept fen.

However, she was annoyed when I gave her one jiao and 1 five-fen, two 2-fen, and 1-fen coins to make 20 cents. "I don't accept these!" she exclaimed. But when I told her that was all I had, she grudgingly accepted the exact change.

If even small shopkeepers won't accept these fen coins in Beijing? Who will?

Perhaps before I leave, I will make the rounds to the various beggars around town and give them my fen; after all, money is money.

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