Favorite thing: If you collect stamps, China has alot of stamps to chose from. They also come out with alot of commemorative stamps and sets too. When I was there in 1987 it was the year of the rabbit and I'm a rabbit so I picked some stuff up. I bought a whole bunch of stamps one day and carefully placed them in my journal and then went back to the lady to ask her to postmark them in my journal. At first she thought I was weird but soon realized what I wanted.
Unfortunately I can't change the title on this...as it's certainly NOT my fondest memory...but it's something I want to show you.
In just about every subway underpass you will find people selling things, from flowers to dvds to food and finally to animals. These include rabbits, gerbils, little chicks and puppies. I passed a guy the other day and like EVERYTIME I pass one of these guys, it broke my heart to see he had a bag full of the cutest puppies in the world ready to be sold. They treat them so badly pushing and shoving them back in the bag if they try to escape until you hear them yelping in pain. Then when you stroke them and show them a little love, you realise just how starved they are, poor little mites. I asked how much they were and they guy told me 60yuan...about 4.50pounds. And when I said I wasn't interested, he went down to 50yuan, thinking it was the price I was worried about!!!
Everytime I see these dogs being sold I want to buy one to help it, but a) I live in a rented apartment and I don't think my landlord would approve and b) it wouldn't be fair on the dog as Im away filming quite often and Charles leaves Beijing now and then too. And what if we wanted to go travelling Or when we leave China, whenever that may be...it's just not fair on him..or her!
Another problem with them is that many of these animals probably have an array of diseases, and I've been told many die soon after being bought.
This picture was taken inside one of Beijing's new HyperMarkets. And is is a picture of a Space Shuttle Ride simulator. This is known in the Entertainment Industry as a LBE (or Location Based Entertainment).
Customers are strapped inside the cockkpit. Then the entire cockpit moves and rotates within a 6-degree radius, while a video is shown. The combination of the video and cockpit movements is enough to make people think they're experiencing the real thing.
you can find rdies like this in Las vegas and at various DisneyQuest centers. I was surprised to see one in China.
This is fun!
You can find these ceramic bowls and plates and other items everywhere but the most interesting is to buy them in the street... and don't forget to bargain a lot - actually it's a must - even if they are already awfully cheap!
When you start bargaining, where ever you are outside, there will always be 2-3 maybe more chinese persons stopping by. They won't interfer in the bargaining, they are just curious to check how you're doing and most important at what price will the item go!
When bargaining, you must be polite and always bargain with a smile. The Chinese are very 'face-conscious' and do not like aggressive behaviour. Hostility will only result in overcharging!!
That large plate is now on my coffee table :-) and boy it's NOT the only one I bought, lol !!
This is a typical chinese department store close to the temple of heaven. The first floor is full of faked watches and other items and the other 3 upper floors are dedicated to clothes, bags, shoes etc.
Prices are much cheaper here but be prepared to bargain as well!!.
There are also chinese antiquites here and a huge area of genuine pearl sellers. Design your own pearl necklace here! The best service and prices are to be found here though after tight negotiations and letting them understand that this particular shopping stand has been recommended as the best one to you and that is why you came here! Even some presidents, kings and queens have visited the place.
Here is a quick guide of *how to buy silk carpets*
- try to buy with the help a local person you know
- don´t pay the price asked. It is only the beginning of the buying/bargaining process.
- check the quality many, many times: 150 knots per inch carpet is quite thick but 300 knots per inch is only 3-4 millimeters thin; 600 carpet and upwards are of best quality and so thin that you might wonder why not hang them on the wall. The better the quality the sharper the pictures and thinner the carpet.
- take your time which means several hours / half a day: compare the differents products, don´t show your satisfaction to the chosen carpet clearly, use at least 2-3 hours for negotiations! It is even highly recommended to come back the next day for the final price decision.
- some of the best quality carpets are found at shops located at hotel buildings like Gloria Plaza or New Otani
- pay with USD and ask the exhange rate and compare it to the best rate you know
- be patient, respect the seller but be very determined
- be aware that carpets can be made by child workforce; You need to make Your own decision here.
...and ANTIQUITIES !
Shop at Chao Wai market close to Ritan park. The place is full of old and old-looking tables, chairs etc. You need to check the custom regulations to export the items to your own country: special taxes must have been paid and items must be marked with round red&white tiny labels. Remember to bargain here also; the service is good and will be delivery at your door for a minimal payment of few Renmins (summer or wintertime and no matter how heavy your chair or table is, the delivery will usually be made by bicycle!).
On the picture (taken at my parents house in Beijing), some of the coffee tables I bought!
I get 5.54 RMBs to the A$....I need a calculator everytime I want know what something costs....no you don't
A tip for those who want to know how much something is in there money.
I get an excel spreadsheet. Put the number of RMBs in one column and next column I do the calculation for what it is worth in A$.
So the fist column might go, 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25..50..100...200...700...1000 (RMBs)
Second colum will have 18 cents, 90 cents, A$1.80, A$2.70, A$3.60, A$4.50.....A$18.05....A$36.10...A$126.35...A$180.50
So when I go shop at the Silk Market and the girl says 700 RMB for a pair of jeans and look at my spread sheet and see that is A$126.35. I don't try and stand there and think 700 RMB divided by 5.54 RMB/A$ = ???
I look down the colum and see 700 RMB = A$126.35 and I can quickly say...no...100 RMB and know that I am offering her A$18.05 without a calculator.
I make 3 x 2 columns to accommodate as many RMB conversions as possible and print it out and cut it down to small rectangular peice of paper about 40mm x 60mm and plastic laminate it.
I do this everytime I travel and it makes shopping a breaze
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.
50 Xiao Liangmaqiao Lu
Fondest memory: If you want to do some souvenier shopping and am tired of bargaining, you should consider Lufthansa Centre. It is a huge shopping complex, and the highest floor houses all kinds of Chinese products. The quality are excellent, and there is no concern of being ripped off. They have a better selection than many Friendship store.
This street at Nanxinhua Jie in Xuanwu District got its name from a glazed tile kiln (Liulichang) during the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. For art masters in Beijing it is a place where rare books, antiques, calligraphy and art works are collected.
Renovated in recent years, the facades of shops in the street still keep their original style of the late Qing Dynasty.
Like what I've said in my previous beijing tips, buying your stuff is cheapest in the supermarkets but a word of caution, you must have patience since spoken english here in almost non existent! remember that the supermarkets are not located in the tourist areas and you need directions in chinese characters in going to them especially in using taxis. This is one such supermarket in the dong cheng district which happens to be near our place.
the supermarket's name is Tiankelong Supermarket (Jiaodaokou Branch) Ìì¿ÍÂ¡ (½»µÀ¿Úµê)
Location: No.113, Jiaodaokou Dongdajie (½»µÀ¿Ú¶«´ó½Ö), Dongcheng District
again a 500 cc bottled water is just 1.50 RMB and a 1.5 Liter Bottled water at 3 RMB!
a 500 cc bottle of my favorite C 100 lemon drink at just 4 RMB
a bag of Oishi Snacks at 2 RMB
1.5 liter of Coca Cola at 7 RMB
1 500 ml bottle of tsingtao beer at 5 RMB
1 pack of Marlboro at 15 RMB
and a lot of other stuffs!
Fondest memory: if your hotel happens to be near one, i would suggest you go and buy stuff and see the local pecularities of a chinese supermarket.
To Get a Feel of Local Setting I suggest you go to a local department store to be experience local beijing shopping if you have time and these are not near Wang Fu Jing but farther in Other districts, fortunately our privated tour guide showed us to one of this Local Department stores in the Dong Cheng District and shows ordinary stuff but rich in chinese flavor. Again do this if you have time or someone to accompany youand you can buy real chinese stuff w/o the tourist crowds.
there is no haggling here but you are guaranteed the the prices are low since these are not touristy areas!
Fondest memory: assorted real chinese products.
Favorite thing: Convenience Stores are numerous in the Beijing area and are life savers since they are opend 24 hours. But off course the trade off is that prices or slightly more expensive here than supermarkets ok due to the higher operating costs. like what i've said in previous tips, a 500 ml bottle here costs 6 RMB, an Aluminum Can of Beer at 8 RMB and a pack of cigarettes at 15 RMB. most don't speak english so just get the items you want and pay at the cashier and remember ask for and pay 0.25 RMB extra for the plastic bag! they don't give free plastic bags in china so you must pay for each plastic bag!
We sneaked into this shophouse (please see pic) where there is a hidden passageway... leading all the way down to Beijing's UNDERGROUND CITY!
The Chinese only decided to build this huge underground shelter in the 1960s when a Soviet invasion was looming over their heads. Incidentally, thousands can be evacuated to this place in less than 5 minutes. No mean feat eh?
Today, you can head here to do some shopping... or you may even wish to get dolled up as a Qing Emperor/ Empress or as his favorite concubine or eunuch (!!)... all for a princely sum of 25 Yuan (hey, that's about US$2 only). Well, that was what we paid to get dressed in Imperial costumes....