Adventures in China

December 06, 2010  •  Leave a Comment

Beijing
So began my 3 week adventure in China.   I’m here for work but as always I travel with my photo gear and am ready to shoot. The work hours are long and exhausting but it’s worth it to get out and see what there is to see.

Well it turns out that I couldn’t post these while I was in China so I’m posting after my return.

Beijing is a beautiful, modern city.  Nearly every street is like walking through Times Square in NY.   There are LED billboards everywhere.   Everywhere you look it is an amazing mix of new set against the cities ancient past.  

10 years ago when I was in Beijing there were bicycles everywhere.   There still are but it is much more practical to use the subway to move around the city.  The subway looks brand new – there is no graffiti anywhere – and it is well used.   On some train lines it’s like stepping into a sardine can knowing you will be stuffed in so tight that you can’t move. 

Shopping
Everywhere you look you see either offices, shops or restaurants.  Shopping is all about negotiating price.   Dennis, the co-worker I was traveling with, is quite good at negotiating.  


WangFuJing – Upscale pedestrian shopping area

 Most goods can be bartered but not all – especially when get off the large upscale shopping districts like WangFuJing.  WangFuJing is more like the magnificent mile in Chicago.   When you into the markets such as the 5 story silk market or the 4 story pearl market everything is open for negotiation.

The Silk Market used to be huge market made up of small open air stalls – all crammed together like a shanty village.   It went on for blocks and blocks.   It was very similar to this smaller open air market off a side street from WangFuJing.


Open Air Market

The Silk Market is now a 5 story building that spans a good city block or 2.


Silk Market

As a visitor everyone wanted me to visit their stall – “they all had the best prices and unique goods for sale”.  Often I was literally dragged by my jacket sleeve into this stall or that.   In shopping I learned some new words.   Jigga (not sure how you’d spell this but it sounded like “Jigga” to me) means “this one”.   As the ladies were showing me various items they kept pulling put more and more saying “jigga jigga jigga” in rapid fire with each new color or fabric or style that they pulled out of the pile.  Then if you saw something you liked they start throwing numbers by displaying it on a calculator – but you’d never really see the 1st 4 or 5.   They’d start by saying “the item is worth #” – flash that up then say “I could give it to you for #” – flash that up – “but no maybe this #” – flash – “but for you #” – flash and you get to see this one.   They may start at 500 and you end up paying 100 (which is about $15).   Half the time you say no and walk away and as you are walking they start shouting ok, ok I’ll take your price.

Food
Food in Beijing is different from much of the Chinese food at home.   It is northern style where many of the restaurants in the US are more Cantonese or Schezwan.   It’s more spicey.    Some of the specialities are Peking Duck and Dumplings.


Outside a very famous Peking Duck Restaurant
Dumpling Restaurant
Dumplings at a street vendor

The food was very good.   We even found our way into a Texas BBQ place for Thanksgiving Dinner.   That place was a hoot.   They had live music singing 80′s American tunes, steak and burritos so spicey hot I thought I’d melt.

I didn’t try any of the more exotic fare – such as scorpions, seahorses or lizards.

 

More Walking Around
Beijing with it’s 33 million people is a fastinating place to visit.

Side street off WangFuJing
Small Restaurant
TV Station Building
Denny & Susan – New Friends
A Clear Night – the tallest building in Beijing
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