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.

Wednesday, July 7th
Temple of Heaven, Chinese Noodles,
Hong Qiao Market, Liuli Chang

The hot water was turned back on today but the water still isn't heated! I am told they are still fixing the hot water pipes. I understand the water is so cold because it comes directly from a deep well. If this is so, then it should be safe to drink unless it is somehow contaminated in the pipes as it comes up.

My laundry still hasn't come back today either from the laundry service!

Today's activities include:

    [Temple of Heaven]
  • Temple of Heaven. This trip was almost cancelled today because the weather forecasts heavy rain. Actually, it was cool and overcast this morning so it made ideal weather to see the sights.

    The Temple of Heaven was great. I remember being rushed through it the first time I visited. Today we had a leisurely stroll with an interpreter guide. In land area, the Temple of Heaven is several times larger than the Forbidden City.

    We went to the place called The Center of the Universe, a place where the emperor stood to pray to the gods. I remember not being able to get a picture of myself standing on this spot because of the crowds the last time I was here. Now, being a little agressive, I managed to get Caroline, one of the teachers, to snap a photo of me on the spot!

    The Echo Wall was also interesting. If you stand on the third stone in the middle walkway, you can hear someone talking behind one of the stone buildings in the opposite corner. It was very clear too.

    Things That Were Different

    • You cannot take pictures of the interiors of the buildings anymore. I'm glad I took these pictures during my last trip.
    • The two outer hallway buildings had wooden tablets denoting ancestor names and prayers before. They no longer have these tablets. The hallway buildings seem to be used for storage now and are not open to the public.
    • The two inner hallway buildings are now mini-museums. They display weapons, pottery, muscial instruments and other relics. They did a good job here.

    [Incense Burner] As our group was leaving, I saw a panda bear toy that I wanted. It was a walking panda bear that was sound activated. The lady wanted $45.00RMB for one. After a bit of bargaining, I bought 3 panda bears for $90.00RMB. I thought I got a good deal but discovered there were no batteries in the toys! They wanted to sell me the batteries as extra. I told them no deal. So if you are buying battery operated items check if they include the batteries!

  • Chinese Noodles. We went to a restaurant called Lao bei jing zha jia mian da wang to have traditional Chinese noodles. The restaurant had cool traditional teakwood tables and chairs and waiters galore. The waiters also had a habit of yelling how many people in a party were coming through the doors. It was funny.

    The appetizers were pretty good. The Chinese noodles themselves were a little undercooked but the way they served the noodles was interesting. There are about 6-8 different ingredients that goes with the noodles and they are put into little saucers that go with the meal. Just before the bowl of noodles are served, the waiters put the ingredients in the bowl as fast as they can. They causes quite a racket too.

    It was a lot of food and I couldn't finish my bowl of noodles. Actually only a few people did finish. But my buddy, Eugene Chu, made an extra effort fo finish his bowl of noodles! This was also entertaining.

    [Hong Qiao Business Card]

  • Hong Qiao Market. This market is all in one building and is composed of several vendors selling everything you would expect in China. I was much more impressed with this market than Silk Alley. The really good stuff is sold on the third floor so we started there. I bought all kinds of stuff including jade and silk items. In fact, I bought so much stuff, I was running low on renminbi. We only had about an hour to shop and it wasn't enough time. I really didn't have enough time to check out the second and first floors! I've decided to get a fake Rolex watch! I will probably go back here again!

    By the way, you are supposed to bargain with all the vendors and getting a 50% discount or more is not unusual. This tested my Mandarin skills at bargaining which were getting better. Also, this place is where the locals buy their stuff according to Cathy so the prices are much better.

  • Liuli Chang. This was a street located in an area with several little shops. They sell books, chops and some antiques. It was kind of interesting walking around. I bought some postcards here and wandered around the other shops. Except for the bookstore, you can also bargain with the shopkeepers here. I ended with getting three old silver Chinese coins and a jade icon. In one of the shops I saw an antique Chinese combination lock with the numbers as Chinese characters. It was pretty cool but I didn't have the renminbi to buy it. I will go back here again too!

  • Later That Night. It's starting to rain harder now and I'm running low on renminbi. I think I'll wait until tomorrow to exchange more money before making another cyber cafe run to update this webpage. Besides, I have more postcards to write!

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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