Remember how I promised to get up in the morning and finish my Day 3 journal before Day 4 started. Well, I failed!
Craig and Cathy woke up early (around 8 AM) to go to the vegetable market. Cathy wanted to get her fruits and vegetables and Craig wanted the chance to take some photos. My intentions were to get up and write about Day 3 and then have the kids up and ready by 9:15 (when they returned) so we could make it to our Beach Volleyball game by 10 AM. These tickets were to the Women’s Quarterfinal Match that we knew would feature the USA Beach Volleyball Team. I must have been super tired, because I did not even hear Craig get up and leave for the market. The first thing I remember is waking up and looking at the clock that read “9:15.” We made a mad dash and managed to get ready and to the venue by 10 AM. I wasn’t too worried, because up until now, security had moved pretty quickly. But today was obviously an exception.
We did not get through the security checkpoint until almost 10:35. We dashed to our seats to make the last half of the last set of the USA vs. Brazil game, which the US easily won. The most important thing was we had great seats and Craig got a chance to shoot some really good photos of the USA team (even clear shots of their tattoos). I’ll be sure to post a link to his photos once he gets them online.
When we were done with the Beach Volleyball game, it was lunchtime and we took a leisurely walk home from the venue. As part of “Olympification” (a term that my sister gives to all the changes that have happened in Beijing over the last year to prepare for the Olympics) they added a new high-end shopping mall between the Beach Volleyball stadium and my sister’s apartment. Craig and the girls have been anxious to visit this mall and decided it might be fun to stop for lunch on the way back. One lesson we have learned the hard way is that if you don’t speak the language and you don’t have someone with you who does, you aren’t going to get very far. We found the food court and some of it looked very appetizing, but its really difficult to bring yourself to order food (or even communicate with employees what you would like) when you have no idea what you are really about to eat. About 30 minutes into this adventure (when we were all really starving), we decided that the leftover chili back at Cathy’s apartment was starting to look really good!
The afternoon of Day 4 was reserved for shopping at the markets. Beijing is famous for its markets! First, we stopped at the Dirt Market. This massive covered market was for the more modest shoppers and a place where you were much more likely to find the touristy stuff. This market was also covered with an abundance of handmade and carved items that looked like they came from rural China. If the theme of your home décor has an Asian flavor to it, you would have been in heaven shopping at this market. I could have spent hours here.
Our second stop was the more famous Silk Market. This market is indoors and looks like a someone took a the Shrinky Dink paper to a typical American Shopping Mall. The stores/stalls were smaller, but the merchandise was pretty much the same. The Silk Market is focused on clothes, jewelry, luggage, handbags and other similar items. I got a beautiful strand of pearls and a skirt and Craig got two pairs of cufflinks.
Sydney may have scored the biggest find of the day, her new dream purse.
The key to market shopping is good bargaining techniques and knowing just the right time to walk away. Since most vendors speak limited English, they use a calculator to display their starting price. You then take the calculator and type in what you are willing to pay. With Syd’s purse, the vendors starting prices was 830 RMB or about $130. By the end of the transaction she had them down to 150 RMB or about $20. Needless to say she is very proud of her new purse.
We finished our day with Dinner at a Chinese Restaurant in an old historic Park in the Embassy District. We headed home with our finds and prepared for our potential appointment with the tailor for a first fitting of our clothes. When we called at 8 PM, our clothes weren’t quite ready yet, so we packed for Hong Kong and headed to bed. Our flight to Hong Kong was at 7:45 AM and we have to be at the airport at 5:45 since it is an international flight!