**A ton of the good pictures we took in Beijing are on our cameras memory chip. Unfortunately the little chip doesn't fit into my computers slot, and we lost the usb wire thingy to down load from the camera to the computer. So until I get those pictures off of the memory chip, we have IPhone photos.
After our eventful plane ride and checking out our "fancy" hotel, the Randall's took to the streets. Mike had done his research and was pretty familiar with the streets and where a few sights were close to our hotel. The first day lead us to Tiananmen Square. It was a quick walk from our hotel, maybe 20 minutes. We got lucky and had nice weather, lots of sun, a little hot, but no rain.
Tiananmen square is massive. The history within the square is shocking. What else is there to say?
We had been warned about large crowds and pushy shop workers and sales men. Lucky for us the square was relatively empty and we only ran into one pushy salesmen. He was a good salesmen, we ended up taking his offer of a 1 dollar tour of one of the gates.
We wondered around the large gate, there were pictures and a timeline of the square and gates/squares history. Not surprisingly, some of the real events that make Tiananmen Square "famous", were not on the timeline. Hum....We later found out that a lot of the sights we visited practices "selective history". Leaving out some of the not so glamorous historical events in China's history.
It's hard to tell in these pictures, but it is massive. The gates are huge. Even the cement square is huge. Walking through you can't help but feel small. The construction and engineering is impressive. Even if the history behind all of it is less than impressive, the sheer magnitude of the structures is.
After our little tour we wondered around and some how managed to stumble upon a street market.
I LOVE to haggle with street vendors. Living in Korea we have had a few experiences with street vendors and negotiating a fair price. Beijing was another world of price negotiation. I should also add that I have zero comprehension of exchange rates. I always get confused by how much foreign money is really worth in comparison to the USD. But from what I remember....15 Chinese RMB was about 2 US dollars. (I think...but I still really don't know)
I have this rule about shopping in street markets; Don't get attached to anything. If you like something and can't walk about from it, just get it. Ask how much it is, haggle a bit, then get it. You don't want to walk away wishing you had just paid for it.
But if you just like something then haggle away. I would ask how much something was, give them the lowest possible price I thought they would be willing to sell it for, then walk away. I figured if they really want a sale then they will come back at me with a price close to mine. If not then, oh well. No harm in asking.
This strategy worked for me EVERY time. I even haggled a few times for Joe and Debbie. I like to put on a good show and pretend like a really the item, and act all sad when they give me a price that is too high, then walk away. Hook, line and sinker! It gets them every time.
I found all of these cute baby clothes. I am a sucker for clothes for my (very far off) future children. I love the idea of them wearing clothes from the places Joe and I have visited. Little mementos that tell them that we have been thinking about them and wanting them way before they were ever brought into our lives. Explaining to them that the dress they are wearing or the shoes on their feet are from our travels way before they were born. Hopefully, instilling the travel bug early on. Oh, the idea of it makes me smile.
How cute are these little dragon shoes?
I didn't pay more than $2 for any of the clothes/shoes.
One lady called me crazy. But she gave in and sold me the white silk pajamas for a dollar.
I bought a few things from her. She even asked me if I was a Chinese girl, because I want Chinese price not American price. She was a good sport.
But when you think about it, 15 RMB for a little pajama set sounds like a TON. It was only when I walked away and Mike asked me how much I got them for that I realized that it was SO cheep. My mind just doesn't grasp the idea that different kinds of money are worth different amounts. Oh well.
Our first day was busy but good. We landed in Beijing at about 10am and were out and exploring before lunch. More to come in part 3.