Beijing- day 2

Wifi trouble – tried to sent this last night but here it is…

A really fun “vacation” day with Mom…although it started at 4am. Wide awake and hungry!
Had a snack, played on iPad and went back to sleep but still ended up at the breakfast buffet by 7am. Not my usual schedule. Great breakfast, very Western style plus other yummy Asian options. We headed out to explore by 9am. We went in search of a market we’d heard about but first found a really cool outdoor shopping area, very “Yorkville ” style with upscale stores like Apple, Calvin Klein, Fossil, and a bunch we’d never heard of. Some prices were extremely cheap and others the same as at home. The Apple store became our go-to destination because the employees spoke the best English we’ve found so far. We were in there at least 6 times with questions ranging from “how do I fix the data issue on my iPhone” to “where is the washroom” and it just kept going. Luckily they kept changing the people welcoming us at the door so they never caught on:-)

We did eventually find the market…..very much for the tourists! 6 floors of a building, each full of small stalls packed with all the same stuff. Knock off designer clothing, electronic accessories, jade, pearls, places to have a suit or silk dress made etc. Totally overwhelming for a shopping challenged gal like me…and mom wasn’t crazy about it either but it was definitely an ‘experience’. It would have been really fantastic but the shop keepers wouldn’t let you just look. They were quite aggressive and there was a lot of “lady, special price for you” kind of bargaining…for real 🙂 Mom bought some beautiful silk pillow covers though and I bought a hair clip (yup, challenged).

It feels like we’re on vacation. No time restraints at all. No responsibilities. After the intensity of all the organizing over the past few weeks, it’s a stark contrast to feel there is nothing more I can prepare, except my mind and my heart.

We found a place to get a manicure which was fun…a little pre-parenthood pampering! Unfortunately, we didn’t realize we’d spent the last of the local currency we’d exchanged and had nothing left for lunch. We’d planned to go to a very cute little place in “Yorkville” but no one accepts Visa or US cash (which we had a bit of). We tried to find a cash exchange machine ( like the one in our hotel) but no luck. So… we asked in the Apple store of course! There was an exchange booth back in the crazy market but they needed our passports which were locked up in the safe. So…defeated, we had to walk all the way back to the hotel and have lunch there. It was yummy though.

We relaxed after lunch and I had a nap which sent me into full jet-lag mode…felt exhausted for the rest of the night. We tried to be adventurous and headed out to find dinner outside of the hotel but had no luck. This area is primarily big hotels and office buildings except for the “strip” we’d already explored so we had a later dinner back at the hotel and went to bed.
Great sleep and began our day at a normal 8am!!!

A few things we’ve observed…it’s normal to be served plain hot water because it’s not safe to drink water that hasn’t been boiled. The streets are incredibly clean and the smoking hasn’t been a problem (whew), many place seem to be designated ‘smoke-free’. It’s not polite to blow your nose in public but it’s acceptable for men to snort and spit in the street. Lots of people wear masks but I don’t know if it’s because of the pollution or because they have a cold. Some of them are very high tech and remind me of Hannibal Lector. Tipping is still a mystery – yes for some things, no for others. We’re not finding much English at all and even though it’s clear that we need help in a restaurant or bank, it’s strange that it takes a really long time for them to bring over the person who works there that does speak some English. We feel very safe!
More later….






2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jeff Cooper
    Mar 09, 2013 @ 10:23:57

    Wish I was there but I sent 2 representatives instead.


  2. Sarah Grill
    Mar 09, 2013 @ 13:23:24

    Risa and Sondi

    Thabk you so much for keeping us informed. it is like we are there with you.




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