July 16, 2000 |
It did seem a bit odd. In the vast lobby of the Hotel Dazu, next to the usual assortment of souvenirs--jade jewelry, laughing Buddhas and stuffed pandas--we spied a variety of razor-sharp Chinese knives, scissors and cleavers. After scrutinizing them, a European customer bought three cleavers. Puzzled, we asked the clerk why a tourist would buy cutlery here. Dazu, a city of 800,000 in southeastern Sichuan province, is renowned for the strength and fine quality of its metal implements, she said.