Tipsy on air

Published: Monday 31 July 1995

Which is the most sought-after item in the bars of Beijing? Incredible, but true: it is fresh air. With pollution levels in Beijing reaching perilous heights -- the levels of some hazardous chemicals in the air in this city are 3 times higher than the maximum limits set by the World Health Organization -- the citizens are being offered a unique opportunity to get a whiff of fresh air. Three oxygen bars have been launched in the city, where business entrepreneurs and office executives meet in the evenings to share -- hold your breath -- plastic tubes!

The customers can be seen lounging in the spacious rooms with tubes inserted through their noses, as soft music wafts in. A veritable feast of air is laid out before them: peppermint scented air for those who are tired out, special herbal variety for those suffering from heart ailments etc. But one also has to pay through one's nose. Every half an hour of fresh oxygen costs 50 yuan or us $6.2.

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