Once my mom, sister, and niece left Beijing, I packed up my suitcase, checked out of the Ritz, and headed across town to my friend Vivian’s home. The taxi driver claimed that he knew the address when the bellman at the Ritz questioned him on my behalf, but 10 minutes into the ride, he began shooting a series of questions to me in mandarin, which I had serious trouble understanding. In my not-so-fluent ‘hong kong mandarin’, I tried to answer his questions, but I might as well have been speaking french to him. I showed him the address from my iphone, in chinese characters, but he still seemed clueless. I gave him Vivian’s phone number to call, which he attempted, but claimed that nobody picked up. 40 minutes into the ride (which shouldn’t have been more than 10 if he knew his way) we both started to feel a bit frantic. He proceeded to stop an American pedestrian and asked him to speak to me in english. Unfortunately, the address that Vivian sent me was in chinese character, so the kind American gentleman was unable to help, but he did point us to a nearby guard of an apartment building. The guard was able to point the taxi driver to a different direction, and I kept my fingers crossed as we skidded across another part of town again in search of Vivian’s home. After another 15 minutes, we finally arrived, and the taxi driver sheepishly apologized numerous times, and said he’d only accept half the amount of what his meter read. I insisted on giving him the full amount, and was just grateful to have finally arrived safe and sound!
After unloading my suitcase and belongings down at Vivian and Kenny’s home, we headed out to the Sanlitun Village, where we met up with one of Kenny’s work acquaintances from Japan. Vivian took us to a fabulous noodle bar in an artsy part of town, which I loved!
Then, we went shopping, where Vivian helped me bargain down prices by 50-80%! My ‘find of the day’ was a suitcase that was listed for 1800 RMB. After about 5 minutes of bargaining, the suitcase was sold to me for 400 RMB, which is about $70 USD. What a steal!
The next day, we went to Tiananmen Square and The Forbidden City. I was completely mesmerized by The Forbidden City, and the moment I stepped foot in there, I wished I had paid more attention to my dad when he preached chinese history to me years ago…