China 1999

Written by Al Wong (Write to me)

This is my experience in Beijing, China in the Summer of 1999. If you came to this webpage first, it's better if you start from the beginning of the story.

Saturday, July 3rd
Silk Alley, NASA Disco Club

This morning during class we had our third power failure in the building this week. That makes one power failure at night and two during the day! The building's electrical system must be either old, overloaded or both. No wonder my answering machine doesn't keep the correct time anymore. The power surges (when the power goes back on) must be killing it. I'm just glad my laptop computer wasn't connected during those times!

By the way, did I mention that we had no hot water this morning? I don't understand why the hot water comes on during specific hours in this building. I understand other places in Beijing have hot water 24 hours/day. Again, my guess it's the age of the building.

Today's activities include:

  • Class Session. Today we learned how to buy fresh fruit, bargain for a lower price and tell a taxi cab driver where you want to go. It was a good lesson with all kinds of practical stuff which I found was very useful later today!

  • Silk Alley. This is a place where a lot of small vendors congregate to sell their items to tourists. It is located near all the foreign embassies in Beijing. You are supposed to bargain with the vendors and getting a 50% discount is not unusual.

    I was not impressed with this place. Silk Alley is a misnomer as relatively few vendors had silk items. The prices were high even after bargaining for a 50% discount. Most stalls had basically the same things. Silk Alley does not compare with say, Stanley Market, in Hong Kong where there are all kinds of silk items as well as a wide variety of other items for sale and the prices start low.

    I have to admit though, it was fun bargaining with the vendors in Mandarin! It was also fun listening to other people bargaining with the vendors! I ended up buying three T-shirts, two for $30.00RMB each and one for $35.00RMB (it was a better quality shirt).

    We were scheduled to see the Ancient Observatory right after this but didn't have the time today. Perhaps we will go to this place later.

  • Later That Night. Most of the our group went CD shopping again but a buddy in my group, Andrew Chang, and I decided to go to a nightclub. First though, I wanted to try the cyber cafe near the Beijing University so we took a taxi cab there. This is where I'm glad I paid attention in class today!

    Andrew had not seen Beijing University before so we walked around the campus a little. Yep, it looks like a college campus to me.

    Near the campus, I noticed a few photo development places. So we could have brought our camera film here for development, if we had known before. I thought I should mention it here.

    At the cyber cafe, you need to make a deposit of $21.00RMB and they escort you to a computer. Here I was able to upload the first week's worth of my China 1999 trip to my webpage for the first time! This made me very happy. We both also checked our email. As I expected, the Internet connection at the cyber cafe was relatively fast. The time we spent on the computer was 27 minutes and the total cost was $5.00RMB! That's a little more than 4 cents (US) per minute! Needless to say, I will be back.

    Then we decided to see what other shops were around there and struck a conversation with a few university students. We asked them where are the night clubs. They recommended we try a club called (believe it or not) NASA which is the local student hangout. They even gave us a few passes to this club. So we took another taxi cab (today's class lesson kicking in again!) to the NASA club.

    [NASA Disco Club Pass]
    A discount pass to the NASA disco club. It says they have Internet access but they don't have it yet. Club employees say they will have it in a few weeks. Evidently everyone sitting in front of a computer are playing video games!

    NASA was a disco club and was very interesting inside. The entrance fee was $20.00RMB which is a bargain! There were two levels to sit and a mezzanine level where they had computer terminals. It turns out NASA is also a cyber cafe place too! (I learned later that these computers are for playing video games only. Their Internet connection will be installed in a few weeks.) How these people are able to concentrate on a computer with music booming, lights flashing and people dancing around them, I'll never know. They had dancing girls and the music was more high tech industrial than anything else. The decor was something else. Inside the bar, there was a miltary jeep and on the ceiling there looked like an helicopter crashed through it with the emergency lights turning and flashing. You gotta love it. We had a lot of fun there!

    Because the language academy closes it's doors by 11pm, we left the club early (the club was in full swing by the time we left and we didn't want to leave) and took another taxi cab (today's class lesson being pounded into me!) back to language academy. A pretty good night trip.

The Next Day China 1999 My Writings Al's Wild Web Page

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Last updated : November 8, 1999
Copyright 1999 Al Wong, Los Angeles, California, USA
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