Shopping Downtown Beijing

     On this day I will include excerpts from an email to family in Oregon. Pictures will come later.

     Good morning,

      It is five o’clock in the morning, Saturday in China. At 8:00 we will have access to the Internet with our host Philo Yang, here at Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA).

      Everything is going very well here except that I visit you very well. I guess I enjoy life more if I can share it with those I love. We stated yesterday that so far our health is good. We can see and taste the air when we drive into downtown Beijing in the morning, but no one is choking. They always order way too much food and I keep thinking about all the children in China who are going to bed hungry when we leave so much food on the table. It is very sad. When we say we would like just some rice and stir fry they order special appetizers and dishes and desserts. They are so good about wanting us to experience all the special foods.

      Sleep is maybe the biggest problem next to no private time. When we return to our rooms we are so tired we just go to sleep and they come to get us so early that we cannot sleep late. This room we can sleep a little later but my biological clock says that it is time to get up. And I want time to write to you. It is my hope that I will have better access to the Internet in Anshan. Some access will be better access.

      Yesterday was a day for shopping. The first place was a large building (I hope Mary and Emily can help me with the names of some of these places) which was like a four story department store combined with a large flea market. Everything four meters someone who show their wares and if you paused for even a moment they would hold someone up and say “How many?” Most vendors are women and most of them are young women. Some would grab my shirt and not let go. And a simple “bu” did not work. Most spoke some English.

      Most of the items were novelties allowing fine opportunities for gifts and souvenirs. We spent most of the morning here. Later in the day we went to a similar store but the products were more household items including a section of dog food and pet supplies. Here there was not the pressure to buy, products were a step up in quality and most didn’t seem to speak English. However, like at the other place they had their calculators to show their price and then we would key in our counteroffer. Typically my walking away would lower the price quickly.

      Still later we went to a outdoor market which included some permanent sites, mostly furniture and shipping services. Down the way vendors had products spread out on blankets in a very large covered outdoor area. I got some beads for the Mississippi trip. There are many bead shops but almost none with large hole beads.

      Still later we walked along a street closed to traffic similar to that in Ukraine. It was about 6:00 and I suspect that people were finished working and were now shopping. I saw many daughters and mothers walking together, some hand in hand. The shops reminded me of the big expensive stores in dowtown New York after allwe were in downtown Beijing. As Yulin identified what a store would sell, the ladies would go in to buy. I admit buying silk in one store myself. I hope that I made some OK decisions. This is especially when I miss you, to help me decide what is a good thing to buy.

      At 6:30 we went to the Beijing Opera we had got the tickets, ate something at another overly exaggerated meal. I was full before all the food arrived. We attended the opera at the floor level where they served us tea and breads. The opera includes great costumes and highly skilled acrobatics. There is no singing and the music is mostly percussion with some flute and stringed instrument. It indeed was an experience.

      Since I detailing yesterday I will say that the driver took us around the night-lighted Tiananmen Square. He was awesome and this is our last drive with him. We arrived back at the room, worked on Emily’s computer which is dead and she didn’t check in Oregon, sorted through the purchases and packed them in the extra bag, downloaded the pictures and burned a backup CD, and fell asleep too exhausted to write a daily entry.

      Denvy and Baba

Updated September 8, 2007
Denvy Saxowsky©