This is the last of my China blog posts! Kinda sad! I’ve been so busy it took me a long time to get around to editing the photos and making posts for them,… but I’m enjoying remembering our trip by going through the images.
The night before AJ and Marcus had showed me how to play Mahjong. I think I almost won once. Maybe. Ha.
The next morning we had breakfast at our hotel and met up with our friend Liz (also a cosplayer) and her husband. The plan was to check out the fabric district (which Liz knew where it was.) I took a cab with Liz and Nick, but AJ, Marcus and Judy took a separate cab… and their cab let them off really far away from the spot we were supposed to meet and then they got lost for like an hour! It was a little scary, but we walked through some really interesting old sidestreets to try and find each other.
I don’t seem to have a photo of it, but there were some old hollowed-out buildings that seemed to be used for burning trash. I also saw several growing wild rose bushes that might have been one of those old species China roses…?
Nick speaks really good Beijing Chinese (which has more “arrr” sounds than the Chinese accent that Marcus and AJ have). It was interesting watching him ask for directions.
We all eventually found each other and entered the fabric district.
There were tons of aisles like this… I think we maybe had time to go down three of them.
Either we looked too much like suckers, or they didn’t haggle here.
Here’s one of the silk brocade stores. Stacks and stacks of gorgeous fabrics for super cheap. I want to go back so bad. I should have bought more and already what I brought filled a duffel bag. The fabrics were MAYBE about $3-5 a yard.
Marcus holding up some of our purchases. To give you an idea of how much we got: all AJ and Judy’s fabric went into it’s own duffel bag with half of Judy’s mahjong set. It weighed in at 40 lbs at the airport! (Ok granted a mahjong set is heavy, but still!) I had a separate suitcase JUST for my fabric purchases. Booya.
At one point (laden with bags of fabric) a man walking by asked if I was a factory owner, Nick laughed and told him that, no, I just really liked fabric.
Sadly, we didn’t have time to stay longer. I had to go pick up my custom made shirt and AJ and Marcus wanted to buy some wooden combs near that store, too. So we decided to meet up with Liz and Nick later. We took a cab… today the weather really was the smoggiest/dustiest of our trip. Being stuck in traffic in the cab with the windows open was pretty miserable.
We met up with Liz and Nick again at the East gate of Beihei Park and then took a traditional looking barge across the lake. All of us were kinda lazy and a bit tired, so we just kind-of wandered around a bit. Beihei was pretty, but the weather was poor and we’d had such a great experience at the somewhat similar looking Summer Palace the day before. Also we were stupid and carrying huge piles of fabric. Haha.
Creepy red eyes!
I love that the underside of the steps are carved.
Can you spot the cat?
Closeup! I think all of us being cat-fans,… we were a bit more amused by the cats than seeing yet another Foo dog after a long week.
More decorative pebblestone walks. (Can you see the dragon?)
Too tall for ancient China!
We moved on to a beautiful restuarant area (Houhai) around a big lake that was near the Hutong area (where our hotel was). It was a totally adorable area. I should have taken more photos. The rickshaws within this area ONLY operate inside it, which was a bit interesting.
These bars had cute open air sofas around the lake.
Another fancy Starbucks!
Yet another store that appears to leave Christmas decorations up year round.
We admitted defeat and stopped at a coffee shop to get something to drink and some fries before the restuarants started to open. We were SO EXHAUSTED at this point, I couldn’t walk another step!
After that refueling and time-wasting we went to a well-known restaurant near there. Nick quickly flipped through the ridiculously huge menu and ordered a bunch of stuff for us. (Beef, Chinese Brocoli, Chicken and Cashews, Shu Mai and dumplings, etc.) Amusingly, whatever the restuarant was famous for (probably a huge whole-animal meat dish or something) we did not order.
They also had this great pull apart pastry bread called in poorly-translated English “the hand that rips the cake”. Tempura shrimp was amusingly translated as “exploding shrimp”.
Favorite thing…? perhaps the flakey-crusted cold-red-bean paste filled birds.
While most of our days in China were beautiful and free of dusty air and smog, this last day was hazy. Made for this lovely photo of Marcus, though. After this we just went back to our hotel, packed and hung out.
I was taking a separate flight from AJ, Marcus and Judy so we took separate cabs the next morning. It felt a bit weird to be all alone in the foreign airport. I used up most of the last of my yuan on some final presents for people in the airport shops, but kept a couple yuan paper and coin money for my collection.
Overall, I really enjoyed my trip to Beijing, China. Though I don’t know much about various areas of China, I was really happy with our choice of where to go. If you’ve never been to China before, you can really see a lot of really important places in a short period of time just by going to Beijing. You can see a great variety of situations, too,… from the over-the-top fanciness of the Forbidden City to the poor areas of the Hutong and everywhere in-between. There is both the modern and the ancient.
Food and shopping was really cheap compared to other places I’ve visited. I found the Chinese food in Beijing to be a little heavy/greasy for my taste overall, but it was good.
I think we were very lucky to go in a time of year where the weather was good, though. Apparently the week after we left it got really dusty and smoggy. I’ve been told basically, it’s best to visit when neither A/C or heaters are required. (So spring or fall.) On the one or two bad dust days, we actually blew our noses and it came out black! gross! Also most things we bought (in plastic bags) had a fine layer of dust over it.
Even though the flight was very long and I had to work overtime before and after I went to be able to go, I definitely felt that it all was WORTH IT, and I’d go again. I really enjoy visiting places that are very different from where I live, and Beijing was definitely that. The Forbidden City, Great Wall and Summer Palace were beautiful enough alone to warrant the trip.