Monday, June 26, 2006

Day 4 (21st June 2006)

7.40am – The bus departed from our hotel for our tour.

8.45am – Reach a Mongolian ‘Village’. We were taken on a ride on trishaw through small lane sandwiched between houses, called ‘Hutong’. After a breeze trishaw ride, we stopped by a lake. At the lake, we were taken on a boat ride. Amazingly it was paddled manually by a local boatman. While on the boat, we saw an old man doing a few laps around a small island in the middle of the lake. We left the village around 9.30am.

10.00am – The bus took us to a jewellery shop near the ‘Bird Nest’ stadium. The shop belongs to a Malaysian. The owner happened to be in the office. Actually his father was the one who founded the company. The father fled Malaysia for Thailand after being heavily in debt (gambling problem) and started a construction company. While building a house, he discovered a gem deposits in the ground. He made a deal with the land owner and the rest is history.

11.30am – We reached a traditional ‘hospital’. We were whisked into a room. There were some pail filled with hot herbal water. We were asked to take off our shoes and soak our feet into the water. While we were relaxing, a ‘traditional’ came in and introduced himself. He was born in Kelantan. His family returned to China when he was in his twenties. Now he is 74 years old. He graduated from a university specializing in traditional medicine.

He explained about the basic concept of yin and yang. Yin is the water part and yang is the fire part of our body, analogically speaking. If they are not balanced, that’s why the body is not well. If your yin is low, you need to eat food that makes your body cool and ‘increase’ your blood. Then we had a really great foot massage. By the end of the session, I was ‘burping’ away.

1.00pm – We had lunch in a cultural restaurant. The waitress dressed in some ethnic clothing. I believe they are Mongolian costumes.

2.00pm – The bus stopped at Beijing’s Hard Rock Café. In a very touristy fashion, we all went in and snapped some photos. I think some of the staff and patrons were annoyed by our present. On our way out, I noticed some pamplets by the door. I grabbed a map of Beijing. Then we left for shopping trips.

4.00pm – First stop, same as previous day’s complex. I showed the old ladies' shop to other group members. After being ticked by my companions, I promised my friends and my self not to bargain at their shop anymore. Surprisingly (or not), the two ladies recognized me.

5.00pm – Second complex. I had the experience of being grabbed (physically) by three shop assistants. They didn’t want to let me go without buying a pouch from their shop. I haggled till the price dropped from RMB150 to RMB46. I would have haggled some more if wasn’t because of we were out of time.

6.00pm – Silk road market. The shop assistants there were less friendly and looked more fierce.

7.00pm – Dinner before returning to our hotel. Before leaving our Chinese guide, I asked him to wrote down the name of the shopping complexes we visited in Chinese.

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