- 9/6/2007 2:06 AM ET
What a wonderful trip...glad you had a nice time!
Jesse called and said Andora was sick so they wouldnít be coming by until dinner. Irisís aunt, uncle and cousin wanted to go out to dinner with us that night. It was our last day in Beijing and we decided to spend it shopping around the hotel.
There were two nice shops in the hotel. They sold higher quality goods than the shops we had been going to. The prices were also much higher. There was a very nice young man in one of the shops we had been conversing with. I had told him I would be sure to buy some items from him before I left. He had been assuring me that the hotel would not sell fake jade. He also told me the items in the shop were for a set price. I preferred that to bartering until one day I went in the shop and there was another clerk there who did barter. I bought some jade earrings from him at a lower price than the other man had quoted me. I asked him if they worked on commission and he said yes. Then I felt bad for the young man I had been seeing there earlier even though he was going to charge me more money. I decided I would go back and buy a few items from him anyway, just because I liked him. I bought some Jade pendants with Chinese characters for Lucky and Longevity to give away. I also bought some cards with names of people I know written in Chinese characters.
Then I went next door where I had my eye on a Jadeite necklace. The clerk told me that Jadeite was higher quality than Jade. I didnít know if that was true but it was prettier. She told me it was half price and when they calculated the price in dollars it was two hundred and forty. I wasnít about to buy it without my daughter in law Iris looking at it first. I did buy my son at home a beautiful ceramic dragon which I know I spent too much for, sixty dollars. He had asked me to bring a dragon back for him.
I had read about a store nearby where quality jade was sold. I thought Iíd check that out before I committed to buy from the hotel. Daveís sister wanted to go too. Her, Dave, Kilah, Judah and I all set off down the street to find the Jade store and to the big mall mentioned in the travel book.
I had also wanted to buy some silk to reaphoster my couch. We passed by a huge fabric store and I picked out some burgundy silk with small dragons in the pattern. You have to look closely to see the dragons. I asked the clerk if he could go down in price or if it was a set price. He motioned the price was set. I bought it anyway for not much more than one hundred dollars. I thought that was a good buy.
The main Olympic store was on that street also. We stopped there first. It was very crowded. We all bought several items there. First you had to stand in line and get a ticket for the item you wanted. Then you stand another line to make your purchase. Then the clerk hands you your item. This is true in all the big stores we had been in. There was a jewelry store above the Olympic store. That was the jade store mentioned in the travel book. I looked at the jade there and it was very expensive.
Next we went to the mall. It was a different mall than the one we had been going to. There was a pearl store and I looked at the pearls. I didnít know if the prices were high for pearls or not so I didnít buy any. Kilah found a Coach store but the prices were no better than in America. I donít think you find bargains in the mall. I found another Romanian ice cream shop. I showed Kilah and she said, ďMom, thatís not Romanian itís Italian gelato. Roma is for Rome.Ē All this time I had been telling everyone about the delicious Romanian ice cream at the mall.
We went back to our hotel and packed our things. We had to get a box to pack the items from all the shopping we had done. Dave went to the concierges and asked when we should arrive at the airport. They told him an hour early. Daveís family had been telling him three hours early. We figured we needed to have an hour to get there by taxi so that would make it four hours before our flight. Dave and I didnít agree about when to leave. Jesse said we should leave earlier and not later. We compromised and decided to leave three hours early. That would give us time to have breakfast at the hotel first.
Jesse and Iris arrived to take us to dinner. Irisís aunt, uncle and cousin came in another car. I took Jesse and Iris to meet my friend in the hotel shop. They were speaking Chinese and I didnít know what they were saying but seemed to have a nice conversation. Then I took Iris to look at the Jadeite at the other shop. Iris said she didnít know too much about jewelry but thought it was too high.
The aunt, uncle, and cousin arrived bearing a bag of gifts for us. There gave us silk, ties, pictures from the wedding, a silk outfit for Judah, a book about the Great Wall and lots of other stuff. I felt embarrassed again for our meager gifts. We were discussing where to go to eat. We were all leaving early the next morning so no one from Daveís family wanted to go. Kilah and Judah opted out also. That left just Dave and I. Dave didnít want to go because everyone wanted to go to a Chinese restaurant. Finally without anyone else hearing I told Dave, "Itís for the company, not the food." It was our last night there and the last time I would see Jesse and Iris for a long time. I convinced him to come.
Iris followed the uncleís car. First he stopped at his house to pick some wine. It was another very nice gated apartment complex. On the way to the restaurant Iris got lost. She had her cell phone and contacted her uncle and he told her where to find him and sure enough she did and she continued to follow him to the restaurant.
I could tell it was a very high quality restaurant. They asked what we wanted to drink and Dave and I both asked for bottled water. As usual many dishes were ordered for all of us to share. I requested chicken because that is what I liked at the other restaurant we went to. The cousin came back with a bag full of cold bottled water. I asked where he got it. Jesse said he went to a convenience store to get it because the water at the restaurant was too expensive. I said I didnít mean for him to have to do that and wouldnít the people at the restaurant mind and Jesse said no they had also brought their own wine.
The food came and it was all looked too terrible for me to eat. I tasted most of it to be polite. Dave didnít. There was some beef in sauce with onions and peppers that wasnít too bad. There was a fish shaped like gelatin with who knows what inside of it. There were lots of vegetables and some kind of whole fish all cut up with the head on as usual. There were some cucumbers with some kind of dip so I ate some of them ignoring the rule about not eating any vegetables that are raw and not peeled. I had already had some ice in some of my drinks and was not worried about getting sick even though Daveís nephew had gotten quite sick already. I remember a discussion we had about it with some of Daveís family. A few of us were getting lax in our eating. I had said I thought it was all in the head about getting sick and Daveís nephew agreed. Daveís mom said no it was all here, pointing to her stomach. That would come back to haunt both of later as well as Daveís sister and mom.
Finally my chicken came and it was not roast chicken like at the other restaurant. It was cut up and poached in broth. The whole chicken was in there including the feet. Besides the wine Irisís uncle had brought some sake. I just sipped one glass of wine for toasts but didnít finish it. The uncle kept refilling Daveís glass. Dave was not a drinker and I was worried that I would have to carry him out of the restaurant. He is a big guy, so it would be impossible for any of us.
After dinner the uncle invited us back to his apartment. Even though it was quite late I said I wanted to go because I was enjoying their company and wanted to see their apartment. Also it was our last night there and I wasnít ready for it to end.
The apartment was beautiful and tastefully decorated. I told them it looked like it came out of a magazine. It was obvious that they were very proud of it, as well they should be. They had oriental rugs on the floor, tapestry couches, a beautiful dining set with china on the table. They had a plasma TV and the cousin turned it on to Seinfeld. Then the uncle started giving us more gifts. He gave us a huge Chinese tea set, some Chinese dolls, two bottles of saki for Dave, and more. I accepted graciously feeling cheep as usual.
Finally Jesse and Iris drove us back to our hotel and we said our goodbyes. I did enjoy our trip but most important to me was meeting Jesseís new family and seeing how much they cared about him and he about them. I knew I wouldnít have to worry about him being so far from home anymore.
Tips from a weary traveler:
If you are lucky enough to be invited to a locals home be sure to go.
You can find all kinds of cheep trinkets to bring back home but be sure to get something of lasting value that you will treasure also.
Dining out is about the company as well as the food. Even if you donít like the food you will have a great time.
Again donít be cheep, bring good gifts. Everyone I met was very generous.
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