SUZHOU, China -- Being a tourist in China can make one want to scream like a baby.
Flight delays are epic: Beijing’s airport recently ranked worst in the world for on-time departures, with 82% of planes failing to leave on time.
Bad weather can bring disaster: 100 travelers were trapped last week by a landslide in Gansu province.
Fellow sightseers can be uncouth: A dozen Chinese tourists were caught in early July urinating against a wall at Beijing’s Summer Palace.
Now, some enterprising vendors in the city of Suzhou are giving visitors the chance to soothe their frayed nerves, infant-style. They’re selling baby bottles filled with juice and flavored milk – to adults.
Suzhou is an ancient city about 75 miles west of Shanghai that is famed for its canals, gardens and silk. In the city’s historic Pingjiang district, multiple shops and stands offer parched tourists their choice of beverages in bottles of varying sizes. A small bottle of banana milk or coconut milk sells for $2.50, while a large is $3. That includes the nipple.
Asked why drinking out of a baby bottle would appeal to adults, a clerk at one sidewalk stand simply said, “It’s fun.”
Your humble correspondent, indulging for the sake of journalistic thoroughness, believes the experience could more accurately be described as slightly discomfiting, if novel.
While some travelers may be turned off by the idea of sucking down a beverage from a baby bottle, this phenomenon is perhaps not the strangest nursing-related enterprise of late in China.
Southern Metropolis Daily reported earlier this month that young mothers were being hired by an agency in the city of Shenzhen to breast-feed rich adults who believe human milk would improve their health. The women were reportedly paid a minimum of $1,303 per month.
In any case, it appears the baby-bottle-for-adults is not a Chinese innovation. A Paris restaurant, Le Refuge des Fondus, has been well known for several years for serving red and white wine from baby bottles. Diners posted a video of the experience on YouTube.
An imitator called La Cave des Fondus opened in New York in 2008, but has since closed.