After class today, we made a mad dash back to the hotel and then jumped in a cab to head off to the Silk Market. It was quite a long cab ride, but on the way there we got an unexpected surprise in a really cool tour of the city. Beijing is huge, and there is tons of traffic, so it takes forever to get places. Cabs are incredibly cheap. Our 45 minute cab ride only cost about $8!! There is tons of construction in Beijing:
so you see sites like this with huge cranes all over the place. There are also countless rows of high rise apartment buildings...most of them do not look plush either. It is just crazy the number of people in this city!
The number of bikes is so incredible, it is not at all unusual to see a site like this with just tons of bikes crossing the street. You would think with all the cars on the road, there wouldn't be this many bikes. Just another testament to the huge number of people in this city.
Also, it is not unusual to see bikes incredibly loaded down with stuff. I still don't really know what these people are doing with all these broken down pallets, but I assume there is someplace you can take them for money.
The architecture here is sort of wild and insane. I guess in that way it is sort of like Las Vegas.
So after a long cab ride, we arrive at the Silk Market. This is 6 stories of stalls carrying every knock of Chinese imitation of designer clothes, watches, purses, sunglasses, and silk you can think of. You can get custom tailor made suits, shirts and dresses. You have to bargain with everyone for deals. I am sure that they took advantage of me as an American, especially once I bought something and was walking around with a bag. My friend Jonathan from Purdue was pretty good at it and after a bit I think I got the hang of it.
Check out all the Polo shirts in this stall, and there are at least 10 other stalls like this. Jonathan got 10 polo shirts for about $6 a piece.
The little chinese girls at all the stalls are so cute too. We stayed really late, right until it closed. At the end, we started to make friends with all the girls in the stalls. They were really funny and nice. I think this has got to be a tough life, on your feet haggling with people all day long. I am sure they make practically nothing. I know they were just trying to get my money, but it tugged at my heart how sweet they were, especially towards closing time. They loved taking pictures with us too:
This girl was especially neat. She had a tailored clothing booth. We looked around a bit, but didn't really want to get into the tailor made clothes thing yet. Maybe we will go back later in the trip. You can get dresses made out of all those silks in the background for like $50. This girl was so sweet. We started talking and she showed me her collection of types of money from all different places. She also had a state quarter collection. She was so excited to show me that she had quarters from four different states once she found out I was an American. She really wanted one from North Carolina, but I didn't have one. I found her a Hawaii quarter in my purse to add to her collection. They also had a collection of autographs from the atheletes who had come through during the olympics. Apparently, Paul Pierce and Charles Barkley are big fans too because they had framed photos with them mounted on the wall. The haggling for prices at different stalls was really fun and thrilling (especially when you are haggling over less than $10, it feels like a lot because $10 is 70RMB). They all have these calculators they use to show you the price. It is really funny. But, the coolest part of the night was talking to these girls and getting to know them a bit. It was crazy to think about what their life is like. One of the girls was the same age as me. Imagine how different my life might have been if I hadn't been born in the US.
After 4 hours of walking around, haggling, and making friends. We headed to Pizza hut for dinner. We figured we might as well go see what american food was like in China. Surprisingly it was pretty similar. On the way home in the cab we looked at all our purchases and had to take some goofy photos, our friend Alan was rolling his eyes and laughing hysterically:
Today was a great day. We learned so much in school and had such a great time at the Silk Market. I was definitely beat when I got home, but up again at 5am today. Oh well, there is just too much to see and do to sleep. Plus, I love having this time to blog about the trip. It gives me a great opportunity to reflect and remember everything from the day. To all my fam and friends: I love you and miss you!
4 years ago