Crossposting a few pieces from my ancient blogger account.
Original post here: https://raleighc.blogspot.com/2008/05/silly-ole-red-party.html
Would you believe it!? I can’t look at blogspot pages but I can totally post. whateves.
I’ve had a great last few days here. Completely amazing. I’m learning something new every few minutes which my brain loves. The feeling of being immersed in an unfamilar language is downright exhilarating. And being around so many people… I’ve never been around so many people. China = 1.3 Billion people. US = 0.3 Billion people. wowza.
Thursday, after I woke up (at 5 am for some reason) showered, & yoga’d I took a short look at the map posted in the lobby of the hotel. Fantastic hotel btw. And after about a minute of deliberation I decide I’ll visit the Palace Museum. Having no watch/phone is great and I love it completely though I’m about to cave and buy a watch. So I’m just strolling along with a backpack(mistake, clearly a tourist) and in my nice jeans and red nintendo jacket(read, rich tourist). About a mile and half from the Palace I’m approached by a male and female (hard to tell ages) who both speak english. I’m still fresh and willing to chitchat and they tell me their university students from outside Beijing who study calligraphy. Long story short, I’m easily talked into visiting their gov subsidized art exhibit where I’m easily talked into helping their university by purchasing some artwork. Great art, but I definitely overpaid. Live and learn. I told myself I won’t let the gov bilk me out of money like that again. lol. I’m not bitter about it or anything.
So after I part ways with “Jenny” and “Bob” (those were names they picked) I’m back on my way to the Palace and My sweet lord was it ever amazing. If I still have time and money at the end of my stay here in Beijing, I’m definitely going back. Sheer spectacularness. I wish I could put up some pictures but I don’t have the USB cord I need nor access to a USB port on this computer. So I’m doing the automated tour and spend way too much time being awed by the size and granduer of the first few Palace Halls that I way underbudget time for the six smaller palaces in the east and west sides of the north end which is incidently where all the sweet exhibit stuff is. 5 o’ clock rolls around and I have to leave 🙁
This starts the next episode of my trip. After leaving the palace there are more than a few people outside trying to hawk stuff to tourists. I fend off all the people trying to sell me stuff without much difficultly, but once I reach the road there is a taller lanky fellow who asks where I’m going in English! Well, broken english, but its my first day and really happy to talk refuge in familiarity. He introduces himself as Young and starts trying to sell me a “tour” of historic Hu Tong. I’m not really in the mood for a tour though and I try to brush him off, but he’s uber persistant and I figure I’ll play along and listen for a bit. Well he pulls out this brochure and shows me a “competitors” price almost double. eh, not interested. Then he shows me Bill Gates in the competitors brochure. damn. sold.
Well I’m pretty new at this and forgot to inquire where the real rickshaw is. If I would have known I’d be riding the wire “seat” on the back of his bike for that price I’d have negotiated him through the floor. Painful, like fighting a tiger with my rear end. Well the ride wasn’t that bad and I saw a lot of stuff I probably wouldn’t have seen walking. Plus I learned quite a bit. At the end of the tour of course he tries selling me again. He ask, “Where you go tommorow?” I tell him I’m not sure. Maybe the Great Wall. “Oh really, you want guide?” he asks. I try to decline for a bit, but I figure a translator/photographer isn’t that bad so I agree to meet him tomorrow morning. “What time?” I ask. Anytime he says. 11? I say. no, no earlier he say. I know he wants to get back soon to bring me shopping so I can get special “deals” so I agree to 9.
So Friday morning I wake up at 5, yoga, shower again (trying to get me one of those morning routine things) and I’m out and about to buy batteries for Liz’s camera around 8. Thanks again for the camera Liz! Eats batteries if the flash is on tho. After my little excursion I’m back to the hotel before 8:15 and I proceed to read the rest of the newsweek I bought at the airport. Young shows up and I ride that blasted bike an hour to the bus station. Then we ride for a positively scenic hour to the wall and get there around 11. Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle i said when I found out you have to pay to climb the wall. Not too much. About half what you’ll pay to see a lot of our national treasures. That’s about what things cost. About half. Except food which comes a bit later. So then we climb the wall all the way to the top to the 888 meter mark. very lucky. make me great man. that’s what the sign posted by the old chairman said anyway. It was gorgeous. stunning. breathtaking. Lots of adjectives which I’ll leave off. Many picture. show later. So we get to the top and my friend Young gently tries to dissuade me from going down the other side which would essentially double the duration of our stay there. I get it.
little diatribe. forgive me. skip if you don’t care to read about chinese business etiquette. The chinese have a lot to learn about business. I know he tries to pitch his time by the hour, but we’re on my terms now and we’ve pre-negotiated nothing. In all honesty I think at the the end of little “tour” together I’d have a strong argument for why I wasn’t going to pay him which I won’t go into, but I’m a benevolent client.
So we get back to the bus station in Beijing and I’m flat broke. I deliberately didn’t bring much money, but I didn’t plan on it being that close. I did have an emergency US bill, but Young doesn’t know that. He saw my empty wallet. I dressed less like a tourist and more like a holes in the tshirt traveller too. The high context culture can read in and say “shoot. I thought I nabbed a rich one.” The empty wallet was my bargaining chip. “I can’t pay you. Money at hotel. Didn’t know wall cost money.” I plead the 5th! Sweet sweet ignorance. So for the cost of two hours thats how I got a “guide”/translator/photograher.
So now I’m more back in my budget and today I’m just going to visit some parks. I’m not going completely ignore people, but I’m much more skeptical of english speakers and I practiced scowling in the mirror >:( if someone tries to sell me something 🙂