Sundays are apparantly the day to go to Tianjin, a city about an hour and a half from Beijing, for the “fantastic” antique market.
I didn’t make it to the antique market.
I got distracted.
What you can’t tell from this photograph is that this street was probably 1.5km long and lined with various shops, glitzy malls, enticing food stalls and even a Starbucks.
We didn’t really intend to start of with some window shopping, but we missed the turn and ended up in this neon heaven. Less than an hour later, I realized that I was limping with every step.
Although I wore my Teva’s pretty much through Mongolia and a bit before in Russia without a problem, the combination of humidity, heat, and bare skin has done a number on my feet. It’s not so much where my feet rub against the sandal straps, it’s where my toes rub up against each other.
I would post a photo, but to be honest, no one wants to see that, not even you Mom.
So, I said “see ya” to Geoff, he went off in search of antiques, and I hobbled my way around, taking long breaks and even grabbing a Mango Citrus Frappucino. I was mainly looking for more shirts to wear, since a girl cannot exist with only one decent shirt. I think my minimum wardrobe is 2 shirts plus something to sleep in.
(Side note: funny how this wardrobe has shrunk since the beginning of the trip, eh?)
Anyhow, I stumbled across a cool section of one of the larger department stores, selling men’s and women’s casual clothes. The neat thing is, a lot of their summer line is actually formed by sewing together bits and pieces of silk screened fabric, and attaching random buckles and straps. It sounds weird, but I know at least Mandy will have a good picture in mind.
(If I can remember, I’ll take a photo tomorrow!)
The tank top I purchased is mostly t-shirt material, but has an assymmetrical printed cotton panel on the front. It’s silkscreened with nonsensical English, and has a small D-ring buckle just hanging off one shoulder for no reason.
At home, something like this would go for probably $200CAD at Holt Renfrew or $300USD at Sak’s. What did I pay?
49 RMB… less than $10CAD.
Proving that, without a doubt, I got entirely ripped off by the knock-off Gap tank at the Silk Market. But then, I knew that walking away.
After the shopping and the sitting and the sipping, I met up with Geoff and we again hobbled our way back to the main train station to catch our 16:40 train back to Beijing.
The Lonely Planet had suggested a certain 24 hour dumpling restaurant in the train station. Dumplings – who can resist them! So, we partook in a rather large plate and two Budweisers.
I should add here that Bud is not my beer of choice. (The original Czech Budweiser from Budvar is an entirely different story.) I prefer microbrews, any IPA from the Pacific Northwest, and nice nutty ales from Britain.
But what do you do? I know how to ask for a beer in Mandarin – “pijou” – that phrasebook was finally helpful! And then the waitress shows me the menu and points to something that costs 16RMB. Figuring it’s probably a local beer, I nod my head.
Just imagine Geoff’s disgust when the two American Budweiser beers show up at the table.
But the dumplings were amazing.
We eventually finished off the plate.
The more amazing part of all this is that the huge plate of dumplings cost 3 RMB.
But the MOST amazing thing was actually watching the chefs prepare the dumplings through the big glass window separating the dining room from the kitchen.
One girl, in particular, could flatten dough, fill with stuffing, and pinch the tops together quite artfully, faster than I could pop one in my mouth, chew, and swallow.
Seriously, words can’t describe.
For the knitters out there, think of the fastest knitter/crocheter you know and then imagine her hands moving twice as fast.
I took some video footage and am just hoping it turns out!
So, we’re back in Beijing now and I’m heading upstairs to soak my poor feet in the tub and try to figure out what to do about tomorrow. The thing is, I really am quite desperate to do this 3 hour hike on the wall. It sounds absolutely incredible. And I know I might be back here someday (ahem… Sandra…)… but you can’t always count on that.
So the other question is, if I’m not able to do any of the hike, is it still worth going all that way to sit and wait for the guys? I’m thinking no. I saw the wall from the train quite a bit, but I know it’s not the same. But I also don’t want to just see it from a parking lot.
Argh. Silly feet. Why are you failing me now? I expected blisters and problems weeks ago, not a month into the trip.
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