As I mentioned before things are cheap in China. But if you know how to bargain, they are super cheap!
Taxis in Beijing cost less than $10 to go across the city (and it’s a big city). Staying in a hostel room costs about $10 as well and a meal can be anywhere from $1 – $10 each (sharing is a big thing in Chinese culture).
David and I checked out all the markets there is to check out in Beijing and got some wonderful stuff. Bargaining is a skill that we had yet to master so this was our first time and we learned quickly that we needed a lot of work. But near the end (after visiting 3 markets) we were quite proud of our achievements. The key is to start super low, even if you think it is unreasonable. The girls at these markets are ruthless and its amazing how much English they know – just enough to harass and you and make you feel stupid to be walking away from a deal of a lifetime. I’ve been wondering how these girls are actually trained into this position, they all use the same lines as well. It’s pretty overwhelming at first but becomes addictive when you realize how much of a steal all things are. But the truth is now matter how cheap you think it is, the cost is probably still half of what you are paying. It makes my head spin to think of how much we pay for items in the Western world and how much profit these companies are actually making off our hard earned cash.
New years eve was quite a gong show. David and I had dinner with couch surfers in Beijing followed by an afro wig rave in the 798 district of Beijing. It was quite a night except that I had too much tequila too fast and couldn’t make it to the after party. The rave was inside a warehouse and was pricey. It was filled with mostly foreigners and some locals. I had to wait almost an hour to use the bathroom which were squatters (toilets are had to come by in China).
New years day was again super cold, but we had to force ourselves into the city after my hangover calmed down. Summer Palace was a bus ride away and simply stunning. It made me really wish I was born a princess. These people had it made! The palace was gigantic (of course!) and was on a lake which had a small island with another small palace which you could reach via a bridge. I can only imagine how much more beautiful it is in the summer. The moats and rivers were all frozen and Sizuan street looked like a movie set.
The architecture of China reminds me so much of the Korean style due primarily to the colors used (red, green, gold). Of course this makes sense since Korean culture is heavily influenced by the Chinese. It was a nice day to stroll through and see the views of the city.