BEIJING CHRISTMAS SHOPPING: Day 82, Tuesday November 19 2013

We went to the silk market, a massive market that sells all sorts of clothes and souvenirs (as well as silk) where we planned to do the majority of our christmas shopping. The area we entered in through was composed entirely of bags.

Hey lady, hey lady, what you want? You want bags?”

Bu yao” (don’t want) I just kept repeating.

Nate stopped to look at a backpack, the woman (selling the bag) spoke fairly good English, better then most, if not all our CTs (Chinese Teachers) “that bag good, you use that one long time. This bag very good bag I give you good deal. I give you 600 RMB”

“Oh, bu yao,” Nate replied.

“How much you want? How much? You know other store sell this 800 rmb, but me now I give you 600.” She had shown us the price on a calculator, she handed it to Nate, “Please how much you want?”

60 RMB,” Nate replied.

60? you must be joking. This bag you use for many years. Many years.” she typed on her calculator, “I give you this much.” The price had dropped to 500 in a matter of seconds.

Bu yao, 60.”

You must be joking, 60 RMB? This bag you use long time you know. This bag,” She grabbed another off the rack, “this bag maybe don’t last long time. This bag I give you 200 yuan. It not last long time, maybe only short time. This bag,” she brandished the canvas bag Nate was interested in, “last you long time, you use for long time. Ok ok.” she held our the calculator again, “I give you 400. This very good price. Very good.”

This back and forth bargaining went on for a while until the two finally agreed on 100RMB, and so the day went on.

Hey missy missy, what you want?”

Bu yao, bu yao, xie xie (thank you)”

We shopped until we literally had no money left except for what we’d put aside for dinner and a cab ride home. When our fortune fountain had run dry we had to put on blinders and walk as fast as we could past the greedy merchants who sought to drag us in with long reaching tentacles of bright cloth and silk scarves. Nate found himself in a bargaining war with one salesman, only to realize he had no money to pay with regardless of how low the price was!

We managed to fit in a trip to the Lama Temple, which had come very highly recommended by Katrina. This time I’ll let the pictures tell most of the story.

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We had Peking duck for dinner (Beijing was once known as Peking and had invented the dish). It would be an hour before our meal was ready, so Nate went back to the hostel to grab our bags so we could go straight to the train station after dinner.

We were starving. We hadn’t had a proper meal since our split 75RMB breakfast that morning. My mouth was already watering with anticipation as the waiter carried out the hot fresh bird.

We watched as the fat poured from beneath the bird’s skin with each cut of the knife. “It’s a shame they’re laying it out so nicely and we’re just going to tear into it as soon as he brings it over.” Nate commented. It was true, the cuts were made with care as if one wrong angle might ruin the dish. The beauty of the layout, the art of the perfectly carved pieces, would be entirely lost on our hungry stomachs.

“It’s going to be so good.” I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into that moist, dark meat.

They carried the now mostly barren carcass away with great ceremony and flourish. The cook lifted the silver platter. My stomach’s digestive juices swirled and gargled in preparation. The waiter, as if he knew what we were thinking, turned towards us plate in hand. I’m not sure if it was just a trick of my mind, but I swear there was a teasing gleam behind his dark slanted eyes. And then he turned away, towards the couple on the far side of the room. The couple with a table already laden with the most extravagant dishes, only half empty. The duck that had been ceremoniously cut in front of our barren table was placed between the remnants of the feast they had already consumed. All we could do was sip our water and pull our books back out of our bags.

In the end our duck arrived exactly on schedule, one hour after our arrival. I guess we’d forgotten to check our watches with the promise of deliciousness so close to our lips.

After dinner we had to head to the train station. The subway was packed, still no one pushing us into the doors, but we were too crowded to be comfortable. I was standing in the middle of the car, holding onto one of the poles to steady myself. The doors opened at the first stop, a huge wave of people surged for the door. They must have thought that if they tried hard enough they could go through me because no one made an effort to go around. I had to cling to the pole for dear life to stop from getting dragged from the train by my backpack.

Well the trip to Beijing was interesting, and for the most part fun, but I am not eager to return in the near future.

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