Beijing: From Packing to Haggling

Beijing, China: Part 1 of 10

It was another ordinary day for me when I went to the airport for my trip to China. I was one of the Philippine Delegates to the 2nd China-ASEAN Youth Camp and the China-ASEAN Young Leaders’ Meeting.

National Sports Bureau – Promoting Beijing Olympics 2008

What made it so ordinary then? Well, I was wide awake the night before until dawn finishing my UPOU PED homework, doing last-minute work, rereading the program that I was about to attend, packing up, and the most difficult of all, determining what to wear for the rest of the ten days. I didn’t realize that it was almost 3:30 a.m. until my SSEAYP Buddy, Edwin, sent me a message that he was on his way to the airport! I knew it was too early for check-in since our flight was still at 7-something A.M. But, it was only then and there that I decided to stop and give myself some 45-minute rest.

(Most of the time, when I go on trips, I leave the country harrassed. I usually finish work, errands, and packing up the night before which give me very little time or no time at all to rest. Sigh… This has to stop. I have to start managing my time carefully.)

Thankfully, I arrived at the airport just in time for a not-so harrassed check-in. Edwin met me at the waiting area with our Delegation Head, Commissioner Hanny Camid. I think I was the last one to check-in, among the others who were to go to Beijing in that same flight (some of the delegates arrived the next day). It was my first time, actually, to see some of the delegates since I missed the orientation the day before.

Our flight to Beijing took us four whole hours, with a number of fasten seatbelt signs in between. We arrived around lunch time and met our delegation guides, Jasmine and Ceelia. They are Chinese students who can understand and speak English well.

How does the exchange rate look like now?

On The Way To Tiantan Hotel

We were then brought to Tiantan Hotel for check-in and lunch. Since we had the whole afternoon free, the group decided to take a walk to the nearest shopping area, the HongQiao Market. After lunch, my roommate, Loren, and I took a power nap before we got ready for the afternoon walk.

The group met at the lobby at 4 p.m. and took some 15 minute walk to HongQiao. The weather wasn’t very conducive for walking. The temperature was around 35 degrees centigrade but the heat felt like it was eating me alive! Nevertheless, since all of us wanted to explore the central south of Beijing on our very first day, we braved the heat without the umbrellas!

We passed by the National Sports Bureau (where we took photos of the Beijing Olympics logo and motto) and the Temple of Heaven before we reached HongQiao Market. After a few minutes of what seemed like hours, we arrived at HongQiao and went on our individual shopping spree!

HongQiao is an indoor mall with a seafood market in the basement and three more floors of really cheap garments, shoes, bags, watches, paintings, house decors, cd and dvd players, and kitchen and household wares. The quality isn’t that good for most items but if you search well, there are some items which, I think, are worth buying for. A number of house decors on the third floor are really nice too.

Most of us in the group experienced haggling for prices. As for me, I bargained for as low as 70% – 80% off the given price and started negotiations from there. My advice: Don’t start asking and haggling for prices unless you’re really interested in the item. The salesladies rarely let people walk away without the latter buying from them. Some of them even shout at people who simply walk away without buying, which maybe a bit embarrassing especially for first timers – and we experienced that. Haha! I thought they would be a little subtle like the ones in Schenzhen (China). But then again, my trip to Schenzhen was way back in 2002. They might have learned to be more aggressive this time.

Haggle, haggle, and haggle for more… 🙂 (Photo by Edwin Antonio)

We left HongQiao just in time for dinner. As it was our first Chinese buffet in Beijing, we savoured our dinner until 10 P.M while some of us had our first taste of Tsingtao. 🙂

One of My Favorites for Dinner – Mushrooms! 🙂

and… Tsingtao – SanMig’s counterpart in China! (Photo by Edwin)

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