Long layover in Beijing, Part Two

September 07, 2011 0 Comments A+ a-

Leaving the Great Wall of China, Jack drove back toward the city on a different route. On the way to the Great Wall, I'd seen several fruit and vegetable stands along the roadside and wanted to stop at one.  He suggested a Farmers Market--of course I agreed!

Along the way, Jack was telling me how the traffic was going to be really bad leaving Beijing that Saturday morning-he told me how many people leave the city for the country.  Once out in the country, they spend the day with their families, picking whatever is growing on the farms: peaches, cherries, strawberries, etc.  Others go fishing at a stream that has been stocked with fish by the farmer.  Once the fish is caught, the farmer cleans and filets the fish, and the family grills it up right there on the banks of the stream and has a picnic!

We pulled up to  building in a run-down village.  Inside an undistinguishable, small warehouse was a fragrant bounty of fresh fruits,vegetables, and herbs.  Jack and I walked in, and in that instant, it was apparent that not many blonde white women had been seen in there!  But, just as quickly, heads went back down to tend to their tables of fresh harvest.  I walked the long table in the middle, sort of searching for something different for a snack.  Every one of the merchants I encountered was friendly, perhaps a bit curious, and certainly very welcoming!

I decided to have some edamame as a snack-it was freshly steamed and warm.
It cost about 50¢ for this huge handful.

Fresh edamame onboard, Jack and I headed back to Beijing.  Next stop, Olympic Park, please!

The traffic back to the city center was easy-peasy, while going the other way was jam-packed!  I was so glad I had gotten up early to go touring!  It always pays off.  (I have to keep reminding myself of that when I'm setting the alarm clock for 6 am!)

Once we arrived back in the city, I popped out of the car and climbed a pedestrian roadway bridge to take this of the Water Cube and Bird's Nest , two of the venues from the Beijing Olympics in 2008. (This picture about a block away from the Water Cube--that's how smoggy it was!)

Water Cube and Bird's Nest.  
I asked Jack about Forbidden City and he told me it would take at least a couple of hours to see this massive complex.  I decided to save that for another day, plus, I think I'd like to go with Norm there one day.

The Drum Tower, originally built during the reign of Kubla Khan, in the 13th century.

The Tiananmen Square exit of the Forbidden City

Tiananmen Square and the Mausoleum of Mao-a big tourist attraction.
People line up to see the former Chairman's embalmed body on display there.  I did not.

After the full morning with the Great Wall and other sights of Beijing, I asked Jack to drop me off at the Pearl Market.  Even bigger than the Silk Market, (but not as aggressive) with similar things for sale, there really wasn't much I wanted to buy.  I'm not one to buy knock-off purses, clothes or jewelry, and there is a lot of that there.  There's a lot of other, non-knock-off things that one may be interested in: pashminas, fabric goods, luggage, sunglasses, tailor-made clothing, electronics, etc.  I haggled with a young lady and bought several folding silk hand fans (to have available for hot flashes on the jumpseat!)  I don't like the negotiation process, but felt I had worked out a good deal.  As I was leaving, the sales girl said I could have my pick of a free magnet to go with my fans!  I was looking at the pretty magnets trying to decide which one to pick, when she said to go ahead and take two.  That leads me to believe that if the merchant feels like she has to offer me two free items, I probably didn't negotiate as good a deal as I originally thought!
Pearl Market

I wandered out onto the rooftop at the Pearl Mar, where a Tai Chi group was just starting.
I didn't photograph them out of respect, but thought the garden on top of the Pearl Market was pretty.

I took a cab back to the hotel, and wandered across the street to see what was around. Our language speaker, David, had mentioned that there was "a bakery in the food court at the mall across the street."  I set out to find it--but...the mall?  Across the street?

This is what was across the street.  A mall?  Where?

Inside that tall building was this five-story mall!  Who knew?
Movie theater.  Now playing:  The Smurfs, Transformers, and  Harry Potter!

Coffee shop/bookstore.  There was a Starbucks on the first floor.
Buy your piano at Crazy Piano!

Baby clothing store

Maybe the blue-eyed look sells more Celtics shirts?  

I *loved* this little shop-it was on the first floor, on my way out.
It was all kitty figurines, tea cups, bowls, etc.  Of course, I bought a couple of bowls!

The girl on the left helped me, and she was so sweet.
I asked if I could take her picture--she was very shy about it,
until her friend agreed to be in the photo.  I love their smiles!

At the bakery, this one threw me for a loop--and now I wish I had tried it!  Pork floss!
I found a great description of it on serious eats.
I stopped into the McDonald's just to check it out.  It was packed!
After a pretty full day of touring and sightseeing, I headed back to the hotel for a nap.  Later that night, I joined some of my crew in the club at the hotel--I haven't been to a dance club in centuries!  It was a lot of fun, and I was the official purse-watcher, seat-saver for the group.  And, the band, from Atlanta, Georgia was pretty good!  It was fun!

Since the flight back to Washington, DC (IAD) was almost 14 hours long, I tried to sleep in as long as I could before leaving the hotel to go back to the airport around 3 pm.  Before getting showered and ready to go to work, I took one last walk around the hotel.  It was hot and sticky outside, as it had been since we arrived.  but, the sticky feeling is different from just humidity--it feels like a layer of "ick" is on your skin--and I think it is the smog.  It just feels dirty.

Here are some pictures from that short walk:

I don't know if this is a "real" 7-11 store--it did not have Slurpees or Big Gulps--but, it was a convenience store.  I headed on in to look for...chips!  (No visit to another county is complete without me looking for Lay's potato chips!)

Tomato-flavored chips...
Shrimp-flavored chips!
Would this be seaweed-flavored chips?

I enjoyed my Beijing (PEK) layover very much, and look forward to working that trip again. Having been to both Shanghai and Beijing, I think the Chinese are some of the friendliest people I've ever encountered.  This is going to sound a little weird...but, the most favorite thing I did there was go to the Farmer's Market-I liked looking at the different herbs and spices and the wonderful welcoming feeling I had there.  I loved having my driver all to myself, and doing exactly what I wanted to do--it was awesome!  Next time, I think I will be better prepared for shopping at the Pearl, Silk and other markets, now that I know what is available.