The first morning in China I think we all woke up around 1am (which was 9am or so CA time). Our bodies were seriously discombobulated. We toughed it out for a few hours, mowed through our stash of snacks, hung out in the hotel room, then made our way to the breakfast buffet, which was pretty much like the cool breakfast buffets I remember from our last trip in 2006. Tons of food, and many many things I had to look at twice out to figure out. Actually some I never did. ;-)
The hotel is all decorated for Christmas, by the way, with beautiful ornaments, trees, and fun surprises everywhere you look. Here’s the lobby ceiling with hordes of parachuting Santas:
We got all brave and decided to rent a minivan (and driver) and venture to the Silk Market on our own. Our “minivan” turned out to be a large bus (possibly because of communication problems?), and we could have brought half the tour group along instead of just the six of us. Heh.
The Silk Market was wild. Like nothing I’ve ever seen. It was a huge 7-story building teeming with loud aggressive vendors selling everything from traditional Chinese silk clothing to paintings to stuffed animals to furniture. I was too easily flustered and horrible at bargaining. Jane, by contrast, was a master. Oh my goodness. We eventually would just surreptitiously point out what we wanted and send in Jane.
This funky room near the top of the Silk Market was called the boiler room and must have been where all the workers got hot water for tea, soup, etc?
They’re having record low temps in Beijing right now. But we’d take this any day over summer’s 107 degrees and 100 percent humidity, so we’re just fine. Plus the girls think snow is a little gift just for them.
We go everywhere by bus. Our Heritage Tour group has about 104 people with 35 families (or something like that) and three busses.
Drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists are as wacky and bold here as they were last time we saw them. They dart here and there fearlessly, paying absolutely no mind to oncoming traffic, lights, direction of traffic, or massive busses bearing down on them. I gasp every once in a while, but have yet to see a collision.
Many of the moped riders have these hand and arm covers attached to their vehicles. They just hop on and off they go. Brilliant for riding in minus-degree weather. Sometimes all you can see are their noses:
Tomorrow’s post is for a big day – on the move from 7am till 8pm. Now I have to dash, we’re getting on another bus.