东方宾馆迎来开放时代 / Dong Fang Hotel Embraces the Open Door



从广州东方宾馆新翼楼俯瞰街景(1970年代中期) / View from the new wing of the Dong Fang Hotel circa mid-70s

东方宾馆迎来开放时代

距1979年还有两年时,东方宾馆为了向来参加广交会的海外客人提供更好的服务,进行了各种尝试。

这些尝试有的持续时间长,有的则持续时间短,比如旧楼大堂区的汉堡包铺,我至今也不知道,它为什么那么快就没了。

1978年的一次广交会上,我和同事在傍晚入住东方宾馆,填完各种登记表后,我们在宾馆里吃了一顿中餐。

饭后,我们来到空空荡荡的接待区,那里摆放着一些桌面是玻璃板的桌子,还有一些木椅,晚上可以作为宾客会面的场所。这里提供有限的几种当地饮料和小吃。

我们坐下来,我又去柜台点了一个大瓶的青岛啤酒,我们两人分着喝。当时啤酒的价格是九毛钱一瓶。

第二天开完会、吃过晚饭之后,我们又去了同样的地方。但这里已经在一夜之间发生了一些细微的变化。

桌子的玻璃板桌面铺上了白色的棉桌布,天花板上悬挂着几串小白灯,很像圣诞树的装饰灯,一台便携卡式录音机在低声播放着香港粤语流行乐曲。

落座后,我再到柜台点了和前一天完全一样的东西:一大瓶青岛啤酒,可这次却收了我一块八毛钱。

我问前一天晚上给我们上菜的小伙子,为什么一夜之间价格涨了一倍。他的回答却让我感觉,我对明摆着的新情况视而不见,问了一个相当愚蠢的问题。

他说:“因为这里现在是舞厅了。”

噢,明白了。你说的没错!

这是又一个让我在中国开放之前就能感觉到巨变即将来临的时刻,而某些这样的时刻还可能带来巨大的通货膨胀效应。

Dong Fang Hotel Embraces the Open Door

The two years leading up to 1979 saw various experiments introduced at the Dong Fang Hotel aimed at better serving the overseas visitors to the Canton Trade Fair.

Some lasted longer than others, like the hamburger stand in the Old Wing lobby area, which came and went rather quickly for reasons unknown to me to this day.

At one of the Fairs in 1978, my colleague and I arrived in the late afternoon, checked into the hotel, completed all the various registration forms, and then went for a Chinese dinner in the hotel.

After dinner we went to a very plain reception area with glass-topped tables and wooden chairs, which was available in the evening as a meeting place for guests, offering a limited array of local drinks and snacks.

We sat, and I went to the service counter and ordered one large bottle of Qingdao beer for us to share. The price was RMB 0.90 per bottle.

The next day, following our meetings and dinner, we went back to the same place. But there had been a few subtle changes overnight.

The tables had white cotton tablecloths on top of the glass, the ceiling was festooned with some strings of tiny white lights like those used to decorate Christmas trees, and there was a small portable tape deck playing Hong Kong Canto-pop music at a very subdued volume.

We sat down and I went back to the service desk and ordered the same as the day before: one large bottle of Qingdao. The price was RMB 1.80.

I asked the same young man who’d served us the previous evening why the price had doubled overnight. He replied to me as if I had asked quite a dumb question, ignoring the obvious new reality.

He said: “Because this is now a Ballroom.”

OK. Got it. Whatever you say.

This was another one of those moments in that pre-Open Door era that I sensed much larger changes were just around the corner, some of which were likely to have significant inflationary impact.


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