A Travellerspoint blog

Back in Beijing, haggling at Yashow

sunny 18 °C

Beijing the second time around has been a much easier ride for us. We are masters of the underground and for about 30 cents you can get anywhere in the city. We've been taking in some of the sights and sampling more of the food. As we get to know the area we are in we seem to be finding the little gems that every city has tucked away around corners and down alleyways. We've just about seen most of the tourist attractions in Beijing so now its going to lesser known markets and coffee and cake on a street corner watching the throngs of people move through. We've been back to the clothing market ( Yashow ) and Matty bought himself a genuine knockoff Rolex at the Silk market for 60Yuan. He got it down from about 2200. I've had a ball haggling with the sellers. It's all pretty well good humored. Go's something like this.
Seller: how much you want to pay for those jeans, top quality, I give you best price. ( types on massive calculator 600Y)
Me : I thought you were going to be nice, i don't want them now, too expensive
Seller: don't be mean, ok, ok only for you, no profit for me 400Y
Me : no, no more joking 50Y
Seller : (looks pouty) you not my friend, i give you best price, no more joking. 280Y
This continues on for another 5-10 minutes while she accuses me of being a tight arse, on one occasion i was told I was a bad father, there's no profit, I should go somewhere else and that I must be joking asking that price. I say that the quality isn't that good, I can get it cheaper in Vietnam, another seller offered it cheaper, and she started the joking asking that price anyway. Eventually
Me: (Stern face) Last offer, no more joking and just because you're nice. (type in 95Y )
Seller: Ohh! just because i need the sale, ( starts putting the jeans in a bag) types in 120 Y. Shakes her head and says she's too soft.
Me : 100 Y that's it. Ok deal?
Seller : Ok deal, you good negotiator!
Me: yeah sure

Andiamo mike

Posted by mike1967 17:00 Archived in China Comments (1)

Beijing Zoo

We went off the the Beijing Zoo to see the Pandas. They were the first thing that we wanted to see. They were lovely, they looked just like they would sit in a corner of your bedroom like a stuffed toy. I thought they looked a little dirty in colour, probably because of winter their cages and enclosures were very bare and just dirt, no grass and no water in the water areas. Maybe in summer when the weather is nicer they play in water and keep themselves cleaner and whiter. However they were great to see. I just wanted to take one home. They have amazing teeth and jaws to chew through the bamboo. I thought the zoo looked a little neglected, windows on the enclosures were dirty and a little hard to see through. Some of the animals were in little cages with not much room, but you can see other areas where some thought has been put into creating an interesting place. Maybe it is different in summer when they come out into the bigger enclosures. I came away from the zoo feeling a little sad for the animals, such magnificent creatures being locked up.
Mike and I are feeling much more comfortable about getting around in Beijing. We collected our Passports with our Visas for India yesterday so are now looking forward to the next part of our trip.

Andiamo Patti

Posted by mike1967 16:40 Archived in China Comments (0)

The Summer Palace, Beijing

sunny 2 °C

We've now mastered the subway in Beijing. Getting around is easy as long as you don't mind being treated like a sardine. We headed off to the Summer Palace to see what promised to be pretty special. The Summer Palace is more a collection of buildings and pagodas rather than one big building. The Emperor's used the area for relaxation and reflection. The Palace is built around a massive lake that makes the whole thing look pretty amazing. The lake was half frozen when we were there giving it a ghostly atmosphere adding to the mystery of it all. The art work on the tunnel reflects the different seasons and each building,bridge or pagoda is constructed, decorated and located to represent something. A lot of the Palace has been re-constructed over the years and it's hard to see original work in places. I'd imagine it must have been really something in its original state, the grounds are beautiful and you can just imagine the gentry wandering around the estate completely oblivious to the commoners outside the wall. All in all not a bad day, although I think root canal work would have been favoured over it for Matthew. Not one of his favourite spots. Enough said.

Posted by mike1967 16:32 Archived in China Comments (0)

Beijing to Harbin

semi-overcast 1 °C

Well we decided to go to Harbin, which is to the North of Beijing, up towards the Russian border. The attraction was the Ice and Snow Festival which had just officially finished but was still open. We caught the night train, which was a little daunting at Beijing station because everything looked written in Chinese and we weren't sure which platform, however we made it onto the train. We arrived into Harbin around 7am and it was bitterly cold for us. Getting a taxi was difficult, we were offered rides from the touts out front, the first guy offering to get us there for 100 Yuan, it came down to 50 Yuan but we decided to go with a metered taxi which ended up costing us 9 Yuan. Well worth the standing in line and confusing conversation to work out where we were going with the driver.
The initial impression of the city was that it was cold, dirty and not very exciting, this didn't improve much. The hostel was located in a pretty run down area, but we didn't feel unsafe. The hostel was pretty big and I think there were maybe only 2 or 3 people staying here as well as us. The staff were great, they were really helpful, getting us tickets and wrote in chinese our destinations so we could give it to taxi drivers, however not so helpful when Mike wanted a cold beer or glass of wine.
Off we went to the Ice World to see the sculptures. It was so cold I think it must have been about -15. The sculptures were amazing, they were made from huge squares of ice constructed around a from with lighting inside. A lot of the sculptures had walkways through, some had slides in the ice. Most of them were closed off because the ice was starting to melt.
Went to the old Russian Church called Sophia the next day to have a look, It was a lovely Russian structure and very decorative. Inside was set up as a museum, but it was a bit disappointing as the museum wasn't about the church but about the history of Harbin and it was all written in Chinese. We were looking for somewhere to eat when Mike saw a heap of people rush to a little street stall when hot food was brought out from inside so he lined up along with everyone else. What a score they were the most delicious little cakes, hot and with a gooey jam centre. He bought about 12 of them for about 4 Yuan. (About AU 75cents)
Went to Central Street, which is classed as an Architectural Museum, protecting the history of Russian influence of the buildings. It is really a shopping district now. We went looking for the Chinese/Russian Markets. We went to use a subway to cross under the road and stumbled upon an underground shopping mall. It went for blocks and had 2 or 3 levels underground. It was mostly clothing and was packed. It is so cold here that it is obviously the place to go. We also found one that was a supermarket, with fresh fruit and vegs, meat, and dry goods. It all looked really fresh.
We decided to head back to Beijing on the night train. It hadn't gotten above 1 degree and we had enough. But all part of the adventure.
Andiamo. Patti

Posted by mike1967 15:32 Archived in China Comments (1)

Beijing & The Great Wall

sunny 0 °C

Back into Hong Kong and more of the shopping and great food. We became locals in a very short period of time. We jumped a bus and train to Lanteau Island and visited the giant Buddha. A bit like a religious Disneyland but worth the visit. Getting around the city is a breeze with a fantastic public transport system and English being the second language. Compare that to Beijing where very few people speak English and very few signs are in English. Can make it difficult getting around, even by taxi. Putting the small frustrations aside we had one of the most amazing days so far on the holiday. We took a tour to a section of the wall called Mutiyanyu. To say its a magical place seems not enough. They built this wall over the most difficult terrain imaginable and you can only imagine the hardships they must have faced. It's a great place to go because there are no crowds. We jumped on a cable car to the top of the wall and at times it felt as if we had the place to ourselves. The weather was perfect. It was made a bit more special due to the snow aswell. Matt had never seen snow before and the temptation to make massive snow balls and launch them proved too great. We all had to pinch ourselves, having a snowball fight on the great wall of China seemed so far removed from anything we had ever experienced before. One of the surprises is you can go on a Toboggan back down to where the bus drops you off. I thought I was getting cheered on by the guards to go faster and lean into the corners, turns out it was the opposite. Apparently your not allowed to ride it like an olympian. Andiamo

Posted by mike1967 01:39 Archived in China Comments (0)

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