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Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Along the way, Li Du had met many people looking for food in the garbage, as well as a lot of Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Maybach, and other world-class luxury cars.
The gap between rich and poor was especially obvious in this area. Sometimes, when a car passed by and someone threw out a cigarette butt out of the window, someone else would rush to pick it up.
Li Du looked to the northeast, which was the boundary of China. Although many of his classmates and friends in China complained about the country and the government, as Li Du saw more and more of the world, he felt that the government of China had done quite well.
Hpakant was indeed worthy of its reputation as the international jade city. There were traces of jade ore everywhere.
As far as the eye could reach, there were stalls on the streets selling piles of jade ore rather than street food.
Along with the ore, there would always be a large electronic scale, which was used to weigh and evaluate the ore.
There was no bargaining here, as the government introduced a series of policies to limit the output of jade, so the price of ore went all the way up. The mine owners and the jade dealers became even more arrogant than before.
They held a dominant position in the ore market, and as there was no bargaining anymore, they set the price. They put on a nonchalant air and did not care if a customer walked away. Another one would always come.
The streets of Hpakant were full of jade shops, and Li Du surveyed the whole area. The people outside were observing their motorcade.
Godanwei carefully asked, “Boss, we’re in Hpakant now. Do you still need a guide?”
Li Du gave him a sideways look and said, “Why? Are you in a hurry? You haven’t shown us around yet.”
It was not far from Hpakant, less than 200 kilometers, but they traveled for more than six hours.
Bad road conditions and the ensuing difficulty of driving was one of the reasons. The other was because Godanwei kept leading them on the wrong path.
Li Du had noticed along the journey that Godanwei was talkative but only spoke empty words. When talking about world affairs, he sounded very righteous and progressive. However, he was not very reliable when it came to interpersonal matters.
Li Du had no idea whether this fellow was leading them astray on purpose, or whether he simply did not know Hpakant as well as he claimed.
If it were not for Li Du being unfamiliar with this place and the difficulty of finding a guide at such short notice, he would have dispensed with this man’s services.
Godanwei wanted to leave too. Godzilla opened some of the parcels in the trunk, and the muzzles of long guns poked out!
Looking at Li Du’s group’s size and the equipment in the car, their guide evidently feared that these people were here to shoot someone.
The parties looked at each other with mutual dissatisfaction.
When Godanwei met Li Du’s eye, he hurriedly turned his head and looked outside.
Li Du said coldly, “My friend, what’s the matter? Do you have something on your mind?”
Godanwei quickly explained, “No, no, I was just thinking… if you don’t need me anymore, where am I’m going to get some work and make money? I have to make a living too, right?”
Li Du nodded. “Don’t worry, you can keep working for us.”
Although he was not a good guide, he was a good translator. He spoke Mandarin very well, better than some of Li Du’s southern classmates.
Godanwei almost cried when he heard that.
He had thought that he would be freed when he arrived in Hpakant, but now it was obvious that he was stuck with these dangerous people.
Li Du’s destination was in the area of Denai Mountain, but he also had to go around Hpakant. After all, this was the world-famous jade city.
It was not easy for him to get here. Because of the value of jade, Hpakant has always been a battleground, and government forces and guerrilla troops were eager to take over the area. The value of jade ore was great, and a jade mine was worth ten gold mines.
To maintain public security better, the Hpakant field area was usually forbidden for ordinary foreigners to visit. Tourists could not get around Hpakant freely unless they had a tour guide with strong connections.
Godanwei certainly had no strong connections, but Li Du could be there thanks to the Harry Winston group. Cole gave him a pass, so nobody would get in his way.
In fact, from Myitkyina to Hpakant, especially as they got closer to their destination, they encountered many checkpoints along the way, and each checkpoint had a guard of elite soldiers.
It was not easy for Li Du as a foreigner to get into Hpadant, so how could he resist the temptation to walk around and do a bit of sightseeing?
However, the situation in Hpakant was different from other towns. This was a central production area of jade. There were six such sites in total in Myanmar.
The jade industry had a famous saying: “If you don’t know the depth of the field, don’t try to gamble on rocks”. Li Du certainly did not understand this, so he asked Godanwei, “Are you familiar with the mines in Hpakant?”
The guide did not dare to like. He shook his head and said honestly, “Boss, do I look someone who understands anything about mines?”
Li Du said, “Didn’t you say you have a cousin who lives here? And didn’t you say that you, and most people in Myanmar, know all about jade?”
Godanwei said honestly, “I was just bragging, boss.”
Hearing this, Li Du almost felt like hitting him.
Godanwei felt his anger and quickly said, “Actually, I know something about it, but jade is a big business. If I give you inaccurate information, I am afraid I would affect you by saying too much.”
Li Du said, “It doesn’t matter. Tell me, what do you know?”
They found a teahouse and sat down. Li Du ordered a pot of tea. Godanwei started to explain while they were drinking.
“There are altogether six jade mining areas, Hpakant, Maw Se Za, Tin Tin, Khansee, Tamao, and Weka. We are now in the Hpakant area, so I’m not speaking about the other five. The Hpakant mines make the most money. Everyone knows the mining areas of Huikha, Munna, Huntsville, Skatong and Hpakant. There are 28 mines here!
Here he wanted to continue speaking but felt Li Du’s hidden displeasure, so he asked carefully, “Boss, what’s the matter?”
Li Du said with a sullen face, “I know all that. Tell me something I don’t know.”
Godanwei rubbed his hands and said, “Hmm, let’s see. The mines in the Hpakant area produce an alluvial deposit, and the mining began two thousand years ago. Did you know that?”
Godanwei said, “Okay, okay. The deepest mine that had ever been dug around here is as deep as a five-floor building, thirty meters down.”
“The first layer of stone is a yellow sand shell, the second is a red sand shell with a wax shell, the third layer is a black sand shell, the fourth layer is a grayish-black shell, and the fifth layer is a whitish-yellow shell. Most have a waxy shell, and with these, we could identify them. Did you know this?”
Li Du lost any expectations he had had from this fellow. What Godanwei told him was all common knowledge. Since he had decided to come to Myanmar, he had done his homework. It looked like he knew more than Godanwei did!
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