Shopping in Xidan, Spa in Ba Bao Shan, and the Summer Palace| June 6, 2011
Here is a quick update on my weekend. On Saturday I went with another intern to haggle for clothes in Xidan. You get off the subway and stay underground. Then you come upon 3 stories of clothes vendors. Each has a little square area where they hang clothes. Here you can try the clothes on and haggle for lower prices. The secret to bargaining is to say "too expensive" (tai gui) and "I don't want it" (bu yao) and then walk away, and then the price becomes more reasonable. The fashion here is different from the last time I came to Beijing. Before, it was mostly pants and long skirts and sleeved shirts. But now the fashion is really short shorts and skirts and dresses. A lot of floral and bright colors. Also, there seems to be a trend towards these jumpers that sort of look like dresses but aren't. Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on your preferences) the dress jumper, while available in every shop, is not worn by many. In the shopping area there are also places where you can pay money for an hour and someone will help you make your own stuff, from cups to paintings. I plan on going back to make some dishes. Another thing that caught my attention, there is something called 4D movies. I will investigate this further.
After the shopping excursion, my friend and I took the subway to Ba Bao Shan, where we got a 3 hour spa treatment for $15. I've never been to a spa in America so I can't do a comparison. But at the spa, you take a shower, then sit on hot stone tiles for 45 minutes, then get a massage for 1.5 hours, then a facial, and then tea. It was a relaxing way to finish my recovery from jetlag. Afterwards, we went to get Taiwanese snacks. In Ba Bao Shan, there is an entire city block that is Taiwan themed: Taiwanese food, clothes, gifts, etc. I got bubble tea and a cross between a fried dumpling and fried bread with eggs and vegetables inside.
On Sunday, I went with my former William and Mary roommate's parents to the Summer Palace (Yi He Yuan). It is the gorgeous former vacation home of Chinese emperors. There is a large lake in the center, and then palaces and temples and other monuments all around. It's sort of like an ancient Camp David that is now open to the public. There, we bought sweet potatoes from a street vendor that had been cooking all day. They were amazing. I could live on sweet potatos. But afterwards, we went to lunch at a restaurant the specializes in food from Xian. Also, Chairman Mao use to eat there and his picture is hanging on the wall. There we ate 8 dishes plus soup. My favorite dish was Suanzhi Yangrou. Suanzhi Yangrou is lamb sliced very thinly, cooked in a sour garlic sauce, then chilled. Then you put onion and parsley, or really whatever else you ordered, in the center of the circle. Next, flip one end over to create a sandwhich and eat. It's salty and sour and the most delicious thing I've eaten yet. I considered taken a picture, but it felt a little too awkward to do so.
On a side note: here are two interesting facts for those who are unfamiliar with Beijing. In Beijing, women will walk around with parasols, because the ideal is to stay pale; while in America, we pay to tan. Also, if you are obviously a foreigner, people generally assumes you are American. When I was on the subway, I overheard the other passengers talking about a group of tourists also in the train. The passengers were calling them American, however the tourists were speaking pretty rapid French. The tourists didn't seem to mind and didn't bother to correct the mistake, but I was amused.