So today we finally felt good enough (we've had the flu) to venture out of our apartment -- first time in 3 days! On our way to work, a student named Ricky stopped us and said he heard we needed bicycles. This is true, but we have been far too intimidated by the bicycle shop to attempt such a purchase on our own. He said he would help us purchase them; who can resist freely offered help. We agreed to meet at 5:30.
He took us to this shop, where he had purchased his bike in the past. The owner was closing up shop, but decided to stay open a bit longer to increase his profit margins for the day. Jacob and I were fully committed to getting cheap bikes, but I think we ended up with the cadillac models. I really only say that because the gears change. (Though not very well, I might add -- on the way home, mine slipped a gear, so we had to walk our bikes 3/4 of the way home since it was dark and we couldn't see to fix it. We're now thinking maybe there is a reason no one gets the bikes with gears that shift...)
At any rate, we couldn't have done it without Ricky's help. He even bargained for us. I think if we hadn't been present, he would have gotten a much better deal... but the fact that we are foreigners in a very poor village means the shop owners recognize a good business opportunity when they see one and will only go so low. This is fine by us... it was still half as much as it would be in the USA.
The guy in the white jacket is Ricky, and the man in the red jacket is the shop owner who, by the way, had an electric bicycle sitting out to tempt us when we returned from the market to pick up our bikes (which were being put together). He told Ricky that he needed to get us to buy the electric version (for 1700 yuan mind you... a considerable step up.) Ahh... the entreprenurial spirit.