Get a portrait made of yourself
Its not the favourite thing but hey I was a crowd puller for once!! You may not be the most good looking person in the world but if you like to have a portrait made for yourself you can try it in China. Its not as great as Paris but its not too bad either. I was walking past this underpass next to the Tiananmen Square and spotted 4-5 sketch artists who looked to be in need of some cash. So I just sat down with one fo them who drew a bad picture of me....actually it wasn't resembling me much.. if the Chinese police(or is it junta....) came looking after me they wouldn't have got me with that picture I GUESS...but what the heck it was fun..
While I was sitting on this small stool and all the Chinese people walking past were like.OH A FOREIGNER GETTING IT DONE.....HMMM.... and they were similing...probably never having seen an Indian before.
The guy charged me about 50 yuan..which was about 50-70% more than what it shoud have been with a lil bargaining.
Hey I was a crowd puller for once!!!
National patriotism was an all time high during the Olympic Games.
You can see the Chinese flags and stickers everywhere.
Then there is a chant of "Zhonggo, jia you", "Beijing jia you".
During the torch relay, the crowd was really excited and lined the road patiently.
Night bag ONLY. You can buy luggage in Beijing very inexpensively. It will probably fall apart after a trip or two, but is still a good deal. Bring what you have on you, nothing else. Buy the rest in Beijing, I regret bringing anything, period. Shoes, shorts, pants, jackets, backpacks (well, serious backpackers might only like their own packs and shoes etc. still worth a long hard look though)are available near Sanlitun or at Silk Alley near the Friendship store at rock bottom prices. You do have to haggle a little to get a really good deal though. You can also have great suits and shirts tailored very inexpensively. It helps if you can tell a welltailored suit from one of lesser quality. Ok, do bring a camera and camcorder.
Where to buy photography equipment in Beijing?
When I was in the US, I used to buy all photography equipment online via a few trusted vendors such as www.amazon.com, www.ritzcamera.com etc. When I started to live in China in 2004, I had to find a local vendor who can sell the real camera equipment at a reasonable price.
I soon discovered that the Photography Equipment City in Wudesong intersection on the west 4th ring road of Beijing is the place to go for all my photography needs. They sell all the popular camera and lenses at almost the same price as amazon or ritz), mostly with manufacture warranty.
This is a large 2 story building and houses more than 100 photography equipment shops. The shops offer anything related to photography, cameras, lenses, lighting, photo printing, framing, photography books, even there are a few photo schools in the building.
The camera shops are operated by individual sellers. The building management rents out space at a fixed monthly rent and the sellers are responsible for merchandise and the price. (much like the eBay and the individual eBay sellers relationship). Since each shop is individually operated, you are expected to bargain a little bit. However, do not try to cut the price in half as you would do in places like Hongqiao pearl market.
For the past 4 years, I have brought 2 camera bodies and 3 lenses and I sold 1 camera body and 2 lenses in the Photography Equipment City. My experiences are positive. (used camera bodies and the lenses are usually sold at 40-60% of the new price to the dealers)
Price: The price is about the same as the US price.
Rayi has a physical shop in the Photography Equipment City in Beijing and an ecommerce site: www.rayi.com.cn.
Nikon D300 body price:
Rayi online: 11,000RMB which is 1571USD (1USD = 7 RMB)
Ritz camera online 1,799USD
Nikon 70-200 mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR Lens price comparison:
Rayi online: 14980RMB which is 2010USD
Ritz camera online: 1799.95USD
Quality: These are all made by Nikon (factory in Thailand) or Canon or others, why do you think that they are any difference if they are sold in Hong Kong, USA or in China?
Is it possible that you pay a real Nikon price but get a “knock off” Nikon? The answer is very unlikely. I have never heard such as a story from the local photography community in Beijing. I personally doubt that a small factory out in remote towns somewhere has the skills and technology to produce the “fake” or even a “look a like” Nikon D3. What’s more, the management of the Photography Equipment City has every bit of interest to make sure that the sellers do not sell “fake” camera as. A “fake” camera story travels very fast on the internet these days and that story will surely put a dent on the reputation of the Photography Equipment City and surely will hurt their business. The rent that the Photography Equipment City charge the sellers every month is patially dependent upon the buyers experience.
Is it possible that you will get a grey market camera? Yes, that is a possibility! But you will most likely to know it is a grey market camera before you buy it.
A grey market equipment is a camera that is sold in the US or China but it is not meant to be sold in the US or China. Grey market cameras do not include a manufacturer ’s warranty but they are REAL cameras and are made by the original manufacturer such as Nikon or Canon. The grey market equipment is usually sold cheaper than the full manufacturer’s warranty cameras, but the price difference is very small, usually couple of hundred RMB which is 20-30USD.
My experience shows that the seller in the Photography Equipment City will usually tell you that the equipment is a grey market or not. The gray market camera and the camera with full manufacturer’s warranty are priced differently (usually less than couple of hundred RMB). I recommend buying a camera with the manufacturing warranty and pay the extra few hundred RMB just for the peace of mind. I do not know if the manufacturer warranty is international though.
For those of you who stay long term in China or have to pick up some photography gears in Beijing for that dream adventure in the silk road, I recommend that you go to the Photography Equipment City in Beijing and buy the equipments with the full manufacture warranty. Camera, Lenses, Lights, Camera Bags, Prints, Books, anything to do with Photography The same price you would pay in the US.
Foot and shoulder massage
While in Beijing, definitely do not miss the foot and shoulder massage. This is not a sleazy massage parlor - It is a thearaputic center run by well trained professionals.
This is the most wonderful massage that I have ever experienced. You are taken into a row of comfortable rooms. A wooden tub of hot water with something put in it is brought to you so that you can soak your feet in it. After your feet are all warmed up and cleaned, a massuese then works on your feet right from the toes to your heel to the ankle and the calves.
You are also given a pedicure and a shoulder and upper back massage. You feel absolutelywonderful after the massage.
The total duration is a hour and a half. You feel completely relaxed after the massage.
Remember - The women have been professional massueses for many years. They do it every day and for many hours a day. A lot of them are students of traditional chinese holistic medicine and martial arts. Which means - do not be fooled by their size, they are incredibly strong, can easily break your neck if you try something funny with them. Just wear something comfortable. Even shorts will do.
This is a not to be missed experience.
A massage for a hour and a half for 160 Remimbi.
Remember, they do not expect tips in China, if you give them a tip, they will come back after you and return the money.