We left off our last post disembarking from the Great Wall Cable Car and were immediately greeted by very aggressive vendors clamoring for our attention. There are many items you can buy to commemorate your visit to the wall – a T-shirt, picture, a scarf, towel, etc. And we didn’t want any of them. After all I took dozens of photos to provide our own personalized memories.
That didn’t matter. Prices are quoted even after you say, “no.” And, the prices get lower as you walk away. Vendors step in front of you while you’re walking. You could assume that because we definitely looked like tourists we were targets – and we were, but we also observed this behavior occurring to Chinese tourists as well. This continued all the way back down the steep hill to our waiting bus. This experience would be repeated throughout our trek through China.
But we were back on our minibus, headed to downtown Beijing and driven past the Bird’s Nest stadium, which was built for the Summer Olympics. Then it was on to the next “museum.” This was a silk museum and store. The place was fascinating. The staff explained and illustrated how silkworms are cultivated and how silk is created. We were amazed at how much strength is required to stretch out raw silk to eventually become fabric. Silk seems like such a delicate fabric but it’s really quite strong.
Then came the sales pitch but this was not just the typical scarves, shirts and pajamas – these were quilts. We were impressed with the quality and the prices but they did not offer the ideal weight quilt for a Florida climate in our bed size. However, a few others on the tour did buy quilts that were packaged efficiently so that they could fit in a suitcase.
That was the last stop on the tour and we were dropped off at our hotel. We were famished. After a quick break to change our clothes and freshen up we headed out to the Wangfujing Night Food Street. This is the area made famous by various travel shows where you can choose from a variety of exotic finger foods/snacks. Since it was located just a couple of blocks from our hotel we figured it would be an easy night out.
Unfortunately, the market was in view but the cable tracks below my feet were not. Down I went – entertaining for those around me but not a great feeling for my knee, which went down full force. That killed my appetite for walking around, so we slowly made our way back to the hotel and settled for room service.
I really use the word “settle” loosely because the food at the hotel restaurant, Vasco’s, was a welcome surprise. The stylized Macanese cuisine, a combination of Portuguese and Asian flavors, was excellent. We ordered beef short ribs and something they called a beef kabob. The short ribs were sauced just right and were extremely tender. The beef kabobs were really thin slices of steak wrapped around prawns. Not what we expected but delicious just the same. The service also included ice for my knee.
So what did we learn today? A lot – but that is fodder for another post.
Priscilla (one half of travel2some)