“You Won’t Need Umbrellas”
The students consider stealing a panda bear, contribute heartily to the Chinese economy and have the last laugh in a torrential downpour.
After our outstanding dinner on Friday night we allowed ourselves a little sleep in on Saturday. The plan was to go to see the panda bears at the Beijing zoo and possibly out to an area where there are lots of TCM supply stores.
This whole trip there have been many days where if we had been in Alberta we would have been bracing ourselves for an evening storm, only to just end up with a hot humid day. Saturday was an exception. After breakfast we packed up for the day at the zoo and headed out. It was going to be another hot one, it was already hot and muggy. Getting to the zoo was uneventful and even the first maybe 15 minutes there.
Then, it started to rain. Nothing major, just a drizzle. And then it rained harder. Holly, Tammie and Sarah all have pretty nice cameras and their efforts to keep them dry were failing so we decided to invest in umbrellas. Jiulin laughed at us because he said the rain would pass and they would have been a waste of money. Well, it did not stop raining. We had wandered around the puddle that the zoo became before we came to the inevitable conclusion that the rain was not going to stop, and we should just give up, see our beloved pandas and leave. Despite thinking the umbrellas were a waste of money Jiulin had no problem sharing as the downpour continued.
Thankfully, the panda bears were just as adorable as we had hoped, and we had a fairly lengthy discussion on how best to bring one of them home with us, only to conclude that perhaps with the abundant bamboo, here was the best place for them. There was no sign of the rain letting up so we just went back to the hotel to dry off and warm up. Jiulin had another dinner to go to so the four of us decided to have dinner at the hotel and call it a night. The next morning while we were having breakfast Jiulin translated the news for us. That rainfall was the most Beijing had seen in 61 years. No umbrella indeed.
Sunday the weather cleared up and it was hot and humid again, though the sky was blue and the sun was shining. Up first was the TCM supply stores to pick up a few things. As with a lot of the shopping in China we got some great deals on a few things, we also picked up some basic needles and supplies because it was clear the rain from the day before had caused a little EPF invasion on more than one of us.
Next stop was glasses. I know, seems like an odd thing to just pick up while on vacation but again if the price is right, it is worth it. There is an area in Beijing that has a series of stores, one right after another, after another, all glasses places. All of which you can get really nice glasses, for cheap, with a free eye exam and have them made for you right then and there. It took a little longer than expected, Jiulin and Sarah were starting to go a little squirrelly, waiting as the rest of us tried on pair after pair and then did the eye exam. The actual lens setting only took a few minutes and we were done and off to the next stop
We got a little carried away at the glasses places so we got to the next stop a bit late. If only we had known about this place earlier on we would have allotted more time for the gong show that was the Silk Market. This place is not as it sounds, you hear it and think it will be perhaps an outdoor market dedicated to stalls upon stalls of beautiful silks. Not so. Stalls upon stalls, yes; silk no. This is pretty much the Mecca for bargain shopping in China, if you hear of someone saying they spent $5 on a Louis Vuitton purse, it was probably from here. The building is 6 floors of clothes, jewelry, sunglasses, scrolls, artwork, some silk and anything else China has for sale, plus the extra suitcase you need to get it all home. Even for a seasoned shopper it is overwhelming. It is kind of fun because it is all about the bargaining, a lot of the time you can get an item for a quarter or less of the cost of the opening amount. We all, shall we say, *ahem* helped boost the Chinese economy that day. And Monday night, we went back.
Four acupuncture students from MacEwan University are learning and traveling in China this month.