Adam and I had lunch with our friend Olive (former language teacher) yesterday, and we realized we have created mini-economic chains through our friends. It's something we all do; you recommend something or someone that you've had a positive experience with to your friends, who then bring their friends, etc.
We originally thought we'd do a second language course or Adam would do medical Mandarin this spring, but with all of our visitors and traveling, we never found the time to dedicate (especially because we were able to get around in the most basic sense, so it felt like a vast improvement over our arrival!). So instead, we recommended Olive to our friends--Jeremy and Claire now take a class with her once per week, my former boss has class every day, and the teacher who will take over my classes wants to start with her in the summer. We're so excited for Olive--while incredibly awkward (remind us to discuss the first time we took her to an American restaurant!), she's a great teacher and well-deserving of more students.
We also love Tailor Tao (as christened by Papa!). After a pretty horrible tailor experience with Janice, Adam and I found him through our Bible--the Insider's Guide to Beijing--and we've had much success. While everything isn't perfect (aka a pregnant bridesmaid's dress that had Adam literally laughing his way down the street!), he does a very good job and is reasonably priced. We sent our friends Sarah, Esther, Dan, and Jess to him, and all came back with glowing reviews. So if you're headed to Beijing for a few days and want tailored clothes, he's your guy.
Our last economy tree lies with Pearl Lady Lisa. She is a friend of a friend of Cathy's, and has been a staple for visitors since the Lewkowitzes were here in February. She can imitate almost anything you can come up with, is honest about quality, reasonably priced, and has such a range and variety to choose from that there's something for everyone. Again, if you're in Beijing or looking for pearls, we've got you covered :)
Adam estimates that through friends and friends of friends, etc., we have possibly funneled 15,000rmb into the personal economies of these three (think suits, jewelry, dresses, regular language lessons, etc.) Gotta love it!