Don't leave China without buying some tea!
Coming to China is a great opportunity to buy some good tea leaves (forget the tea bags).
Tea is one of the best, healthy and cheap drinks one could ever have. It not only keeps you in good shape but it also might retard the process of aging. The best tea for one’s health is green tea.
I drink almost everyday (between meals) one, two cups in the utmost. I like it light in order to keep my iron levels at a satisfactory state.
Three years ago I was drinking tea in Gongbei and the girl who was waiting on me said something (in Chinese, of course) that I will never forget, "People who like to drink tea are people who have a good heart".
I am not going to explain to you what she meant by those words, however, what I can tell you is that having a cup of warm tea in our hands, drinking it slowly, sip by sip, enjoying it, appreciating it, makes you smile and it is indeed one of the most peaceful moments we can enjoy in our lives.
Bargaining and refusing a sale
This came very useful when I was at the foot of the trail up to the Great Wall.
Chinses peope are very entrepreneurial and will try to sell you everything and anything if you walk by a stall - "No" to them means you want to bargain.
Chinese will ALWAYS try and charge foreigners at least three times and upwards of the price of the item if it is not clearly marked already. To counter balance this, start your bidding at at most one tenth of their asking price - you will quickly find that their asjing and your offer price will converge at around what you can expect for that item if you were chinese.
A good way to tell them you are not interested is to say "I think this is beautiful - someone else might like it" then they will gracefully retreat and say no more.
Of course the other way is to quickly walk on by or walk away if you have no interest in buying anything.
Leave the crowds !
Off the beaten path?.
I decided to leave the crowds and go to a place where the wall was not renovated and seemed quiet and, who knows why, I wanted to go there. . . At the end of the renovated section, the wall was closed and wardens told me it was forbidden to go beyond. I came back and looked at a staircase going to the cable cart (not in service) and I decided to go down and I quickly was on a small path in the woods on the Mongolian side; I followed this path where nobody could see me from the wall and after one kilometre I was at the foot of a little fort on the wall, far from the renovated section, but I was on the foot, had to climb up somewhere; I followed the wall for another half kilometre and at another small tower I could climb up easily the ruins and I was on the wall, finally, the real wall, in ruins, yes but it was the real one, very quiet (I met nobody), had the wall for me alone, could look at the landscape, look at the stones, dream about what could have happened here or there.
Main picture: Ah, here we are on the un-renovated part of the wall; do these bricks and stones not look more authentic than the ones on the renovated part? And the perspective through the slit (a wide slit, I do not find a correct name for this “window”) is really what I was expecting coming here.
Picture 2: Walking in the woods on the “Mongolian side”, little towers, little forts along the wall.
Picture 3: A little fort seen from the “Mongolian side”; I was already walking in the woods when I could see the fort; from here, it looks seriously as a military construction and from a Mongolian perspective, it looks impressive.
Picture 4: A small pagoda the visitors of the renovated part will not see, hihihi. I like to see that kind of little building isolated in the mountain.
Picture 5:And again, the old wall, the old rocks and the quietude. . .
Second row of fromthe right. They usually display the unit at the corridors. Grammaphone or any other old musical instruments The seller's initial price was 3000 RMB but after some tough negotiation, I managed to get it for 500 RMB in year 2001. As this tyoe of instrument is getting difficult to find, the price can be much higher if you go back today. It also depends how hard you bargain.
The Shaolin Warriors will be loved by some, but not by others. We went with no particular expectations and felt that it would probably be a real highlight for many visitors to Beijing.
The show provides an introduction to the annual cycle of the monks of the Shaolin Temple, home of the Chan (Zen) sect of Mahayana Buddhism. The show is mainly dance, with the monks showing their skills in balance and coordination. Don't expect to much high-kicking HK flick kung fu: this is the more accomplished meditative style, with plenty of controlled thrashing around of arms and tools.
One of the underlying themes in the show is how the monks can defend themselves with their bare hands but also with everyday objects from their lives - staffs, sticks, even their begging bowl.
The sound system is, unfortunately, far too loud and of poor quality. This lets down a stellar performance. I happen to know a young Shaolin monk (the son of an employee of mine) and this brings home the rigours of the monastic training at Shaolin. Two stars of the show are young - about 9 years old - boy monks, who are so serious and diligent.
This is not one of those dinner shows, nor a cheap tourist charade. It is an excellent evening's entertainment.