Tuesday, October 09, 2012

highlights from my staycation in beijing.

As I mentioned, I had last week off because it was a holiday in China. While some people did go somewhere further away for their vacation, I chose to stay in Beijing and luckily, so did some of my friends. 

Here are a few photos and details from my "staycation": 

I spent an embarrassing amount of time at Yashow, an indoor market that sells clothing, shoes, purses, luggage, knock-off designer goods, etc. There aren't any set prices; you have to barter with the sales people. They'll tell you a ridiculously high price (considering things are knock-offs and not the greatest quality), especially if they think you're a tourist. Then you have to give them a ridiculously low price and meet somewhere in between. For example, I bought two pairs of shoes. At first, the woman told me she would give me one pair for 150 RMB. In the end, I got both pairs for a total of 90 RMB. It helps that I know a bit of Mandarin, especially my numbers (I know them all to 999!). The more Mandarin you know, the easier it is to barter. 

I ate a lot of delicious food at Chinese, Indian, and "Western" restaurants. I would have to say that I think I prefer eating at Chinese restaurants, at least while I'm here. It's a chance to try new things, practice using chopsticks (I'm practically a pro now!), and enjoy the atmosphere -- it's so unlike restaurants at home! That being said, I do like eating food that reminds me of home once in a while: pasta, burgers, pizza. 

I went to the "Dirt Market" (Panjiayuan). It's basically a giant antique/flea market where you can buy furniture, instruments, artwork, jewelry, etc. I only really explored the artwork section, so I'll  have to go back. You have to barter there, too, which I had a hard time with at first, because I know how much work goes into making a beautiful painting! (Thank you, Marlene!) My first purchase was a set of two small paintings, which I got for 220 RMB (less than $40 CAD) and I thought it was a great deal. Then I talked to the people I went with and realized I probably could have got them for much cheaper. People keep telling me I have to "get out of the Canadian mindset!" 

Alanna and I took Tracy, our teachers' assistant, out for dinner and drinks in Sanlitun, an area of our district with lots of restaurants, bars, and stores. It was fun hanging out outside of work and it gave us a chance to talk about non-school related things. Tracy's actually who has taught me most of the Mandarin phrases I know. She teaches Alanna and I how to say things, and we answer her questions about Canada. 

I spoiled myself and got my nails done! Katie and I went to a tiny "spa" in Yashow and it was cheaper than at home. I don't even remember the last time I had a manicure; it was probably for my high school prom. I was able to pick from many different designs and colours and it's gel polish, so it should last quite awhile. I chose a design that wouldn't cover my whole nail so that it will still look okay when they grow out. 

One of the best parts of the "staycation" was visiting the Temple of Heaven. I'll share more about this soon because it definitely deserves its own post!

A group of us went to see the acrobatics show at Chaoyang Theatre. It was amazing! These people are so strong! I didn't take any photos myself, but Katie did so I'll probably share more when I get those from her. (This photo is from Kayla, who saw the show in July.)

A trip to the fruit and veggie market was a highlight of one of my last days of vacation. Again, I'll share more soon, but in the meantime, look at all that fresh fruit!

As you know, Canadian Thanksgiving was this past weekend. A group of us teachers had a potluck in the greenhouse. There was no turkey, but there was a lot of food: chicken, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, dressing, veggies, corn on the cob, meatballs, bread, pasta salad, pumpkin cupcakes, apple crisp, and more! We all held hands as one of the teachers said grace. I have to admit, I was missing home a bit more than usual that day, and this helped. (It also helped that my family has promised we can have a turkey dinner when I get back, no matter how hot it is!)

Highlights not pictured: A trip to Ikea (my first ever!). Walks around the neighbourhood. Two trips to the Plant Market. The lattes and frappuccinos from Starbucks. Riding the subway and bus. The episodes of Parenthood, Grey's Anatomy, and Dawson's Creek that I watched. The naps that I had. The new Mumford & Sons album I downloaded and listened to on repeat.

P.S. Highlights from my vacations in Vermont and Montréal


  1. great post! love your adventures!

  2. Now that's a staycation! Funny about the store with no prices.

  3. Pretty nails :)

    I think the whole bartering experience would be fun, but definitely not something we Canadians are used to lol

    Funny, you go for the paintings and I'd probably be trying to snag some jewelery (earrings or a bracelet as a memento)

    Glad that you're getting to keep up with some of your shows (Parenthood!!)


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