Beijing Day 3
A quieter day, or not.
Some of the riders beat me to breakfast this morning. Maybe that was due to my staying up till midnight last night. Krystal and Amanda are still afraid of the majority of food at the buffet. They don’t seem to be vegetable eaters though Amanda swears that potatoes count.
Most of the riders took off for a ride and later told us stories of people trying to steal their road markers (water bottles) and a couple people almost jumping into them by mistake. Turns out one woman wasn’t paying attention and the riders came up on both sides of her. She saw one of them on her left and freaked out. Her reaction was to turn right and start running which happened to be where another rider was perched. He dropped a foot and planted a quick pivot before wrecking.
During the next few hours I caught up on some paper work and computer time while helping out a few riders. One chain replaced, one wheel trued, four tires pumped, two trainers handed out and four radios charged.
At two we hit the road for another bus trip, this time to the Silk Market. It’s also known as the Pearl Market and is truly a six story indoor swap meet. We made a left turn off of our street and spent the next forty minutes driving down one street. We drove by various consulates, the Olympic baseball stadium, numerous fancy buildings and drove right by Tieneman Square. Yes, we made it to the Square in about fifteen minutes less time than the day before.
A few miles later our drive pulled under a bridge to make a left U-turn and a couple blocks later were at the big glass building. I had heard rumors of the bargining abilities of this place and the killer deals. I had heard of the crazy sales people but no one had truly prepared me for what lay inside.
Imagine a swap meet where the sales people call out to you and don’t beg you to buy but attempt to force you to buy. I was constantly yanking my arms and hands out of people’s grip. They regularly called out “hey guy” or “hey buddy”. I was told to buy my wife a Gucci purse or buy myself a new pair of Nike or try on a Rolex. At one point I had a young lady on each arm trying to pull me into separate booths. The guys wearing hats lost them numerous times as the sales ladies would steal the caps in an attempt to hold them hostage until the guys bought something. They also made fun of my larger center section. One gal told me I was having her twins. This was especially entertaining with Redman and Bubba’s father as both are 4x guys. Redman played it off well. He would agree to buy something if they could find something his size. They said they had his size but gave up trying after a while.
They had clothing areas, sporting goods areas, electronics, luggage, silk, jewelry, lots of shoes and much, much more. The longer we were there the more of a game it became. Redman said this was better than some parties he has attended. Some lady wanted me to buy underwear. I mentioned that I don’t wear underwear to see what response I would get. She then told me I was a dirty boy and needed to buy my girlfriend underwear. Later I heard Mike K tell a person that his boyfriend didn’t like that style of underwear. Again lots of laughs.
At one point Mike and I were both negotiating with the same lady for different things. He wanted a Louis Vuitton belt, I wanted some funky purse for my daughter. She told me 50RMB, I told her 20. Then she and Mike fought with a calculator. She told me 30RMB and I started to walk away. Mike beat her down on price some more and I told her 20. She told me 30 and I started to walk away again. She then asked if we were brothers and Mike said I was his father. She laughed and gave Mike some price he didn’t want. I waved a 20 at her and started walking away. She responded with “what color you want”. Mike got the belt as well.
The two of us then left the building and hit a Starbucks down the street. We found a spot next to the window and spent some time people watching. This was definitely more of a multi-cultural area than the zone around our hotel. Lots of Eurpeans and other Asian groups. While Mike sipped his iced espresso we watched as people entered minivans in the lot out front and later came out with bags full of bootleg DVDs. I saw Transformers, Simpsons, Rush Hour 3 and more. Just crazy…
At six it was back to the hotel with many a good story to tell. After dinner I helped repair a flat, adjusted some brakes and then spent some time helping DR with his new watch. The dial was jammed and he wanted it to show the correct time and date. This was probably the most delicate task so far as it was a fancy watch and we didn’t want to scratch or dent any portion of it.
So, a milder day with fewer pictures. I didn’t want to take my camera out at the Market as I was afraid it would disappear. I kind’a wish my family was here today. Not because the prices were so good but because the experience was so unique. That was the best English I have heard this whole trip and they had a response for everything.
By the way, some of our group fear that our hotel is full of spies. Each floor has a security guard and they already know our names. Most of the people at the buffet have our rooms memorized and the receptionist and help staff know us by name. I don’t mean they know our name when we call from our room. I mean we walk into the lobby and somewhere there says “Hello Mr. Clinton”. Plus they always seem to know when we are not in our rooms as turn downs occur when we skip out for just ten minutes. One of the riders suggested that there are secret panels in the rooms and the security guard gives the spies the okay when we leave the room. They then go through our stuff and skip out when the guard tells them we are coming back. Freaky, not true, but definitely keeps you on your toes.