Day Two Beijing Adventures
You would think that after not sleeping all night that we would fall into a sound sleep, but it was not to be! The beds here are quite hard, the room was hot, and our jet lagged bodies just wouldn’t accept that it was nighttime. We both were up every hour checking to see if it was time to get up and eventually gave up at 5:00 am. We brought granola with us, which gives us the chance to have a nice slow start reading the guidebooks and planning our day. Once it was a reasonable time, we headed to the Old Pearl Market for an exciting day of shopping. The subway is right at the front door of our hotel, and is quite easy to figure out, so for only 2 yuan each (32cents), we were on our way. The subways are just jammed with people, everyone has to breathe in to be sure that no body parts get stuck in the doors! One of the things that we love about striking out on our own is the interesting people that we always meet. We were wedged in close to a young couple from New Brunswick who are here for a year studying Mandarin. The journey allowed us to engage in a great conversation about their experience; they have been here since the summer and thoroughly love it. How I admire young people who go out to embrace the fullness that life has to offer.
We arrived at the Pearl Market, and thanks to our friends from home, Tina and George, we had great instructions for where to shop. We found some great bargains on such things as clothes, Uggs, watches and purses. It was pretty interesting to be led down alleyways to find some of the stores in “the bunker” where some of the more extensive stock was to be found. This took us past a back alley hole in the wall restaurant as well as some of the people’s humble homes. We had to aware of the constant beep beep of motorcycle or scooter horns as they wanted to get by us. These would often be loaded with one or two passengers as well as the driver.
At the end of the day we were so loaded down with bags that we thought it would be best to take a cab. We discovered that the cabs don’t hail like they do in New York, so we had to walk a few blocks from the bunker back to the front of the Pearl Market where all the cabs sit and wait for customers. Once there, a cabbie was only too happy to load all our bags into his trunk, and then to proceed to tell us that it would be cheaper for us to go for a flat fee rather than on the meter because it was rush hour. Hmmm, only 150 yuan ($30)…….no! no! no! We argued for a few minutes, then just grabbed our bags and started walking away. Another cabbie with a big smile said; “meter, no problem.” It only cost 24 yuan on the meter, Bryce was so happy he gave him a 16 yuan tip.
After supper, we went to the Chinese Acrobats, truly a show not to be missed. Incredible feats of jumping, flipping and contorting their bodies into pretzels. Can you imagine 15 people on a bicycle? They must have to do a lot of practicing to get these stunts down! Unfortunately we couldn’t take any pictures, as it would have thrown the acrobats off. Here’s something else I learned in looking for a pictures; if you go online, you can get the tickets half price! We knew this when we were in New York, but never even thought of checking this out in China….another lesson learned!
The skies opened just before we set out, and it was tough walking through the deluge. The drainage is not that good, and there were several spots where we thought that we were going to need our masks and snorkels. Thankfully, we had invested in a few good jackets at the market, so we were warm and dry except for our feet. The city planners here have some great underground tunnels that they use to cross the main highways, so we were at least dry for that part of the 10 minute walk to see the show.
We woke up this morning to snow; our hope is to visit the Forbidden City and Tianamen Square, so we may have to go back to the market to invest in a few more warm clothes before we head out.
F.Y.I. It is 16 hours ahead of your time here, so as I write this, it is 9:00 am Sunday morning and 6:00 pm Saturday night where you are. No wonder we’re jet lagged!