The first part of this week was pretty uneventful as far as new experiences are concerned. It mainly consisted of the Typical Day in Beijing (see below). On Thursday J &KW and BG and I had dinner at a neighborhood restaurant called the Faraway Café, which is mostly patterned after the south of France, except for the Elvis posters. The food was very good, in spite of the odd décor, and I can see why J&K go there fairly often.
This is the “I’m so pathetic” portion of our program, featuring my refrigerator.
This is my kitchen cabinet. I obviously haven’t managed to really stock up on things yet.
This morning, BG and I met just before 10 and walked over toward the W place. We met J&K there, and walked back past the Kuntai Hotel to a restaurant near the US Embassy (which is apparently moving soon). The restaurant is called Steak & Eggs, and it’s an American style diner that serves breakfast all day. They serve lunch all day too. It was kind of nice to have pancakes for breakfast, especially after a long walk. We all had a good meal and felt quite content by the time we left. The coffee was even pretty good. After that, we caught a taxi to a large market with hundreds of vendors selling any kind of craft you can imagine, from furniture to jewelry to art to antiques (or so they said). The place is massive and we covered less than half of it over the course of the afternoon.
Like I said, furniture.
JW wants to buy a happy pig (a symbol of prosperity) for his apartment, but these are too big.
They are very happy pigs.
More of the furniture zone. Incidentally, in this picture you can see a very common sight. Young women friends (and sometimes older ones) are often seen arm in arm, or even holding hands here, sometimes in groups of three or more.
Lots of very lovely stuff here.
And it doesn’t cater just to tourists.
Here is some really amazing furniture. Not sure I would want it in my living room, but it is amazing.
Are you getting a feeling for the size of this place?
Occasionally you catch a little break in the crowd.
In amongst the antiques (and fake antiques, no doubt) you see this happy fellow.
In some ways it’s like flea markets I’ve seen before, though the style of the art is different. And one last picture, just in case I haven't convinced you that this is a large market.
That's my boss JW foreground right, and BG in the maroon sweatshirt on the left, and a small fraction of the market.
Did I buy anything? It should surprise no one who knows me that my one purchase of the day looked like this. After I got it home, I played around with it and discovered that it was not made as a functional musical instrument (the frets aren't arranged to produce notes in any scale, Asian or Western). But it is lovely and will make a great addition to my apartment. There were lots of other instruments there, which I suspect are of similar functionality, though a friend has told me of places where "real" instruments can be had.
Tonight, the plan was to have movie night over at the W household after a dinner at the Korean BBQ near my place. I think The Devil Wears Prada was on the bill. Dinner was excellent. Each table has a little grill, and you order your own selection of raw meats and vegetables and grill them yourself, though we got a bit of help from the staff, as they obviously considered us incompetent. Anyway, delicious.
We left the restaurant and I pointed out this place, which I had noticed before. It was still early, so we went in, and discovered a sports bar focused on soccer. We watched a match, drank some beer, met some British kids on holiday (two from Manchester, two from Bristol), and before long movie night had been postponed. The four of us are now members of China Club Football. It’s a charity thing that gives us discounts at various places around town, some of which are already on our Most Favored Destinations list.