Jan 9 2013 | 2 Comments
BEIJING FINAL DAY OF TRIP
We were actually supposed to go home today but could not get on a flight. We weren’t scheduled and bumped; we never got on a flight, so in fact we were always scheduled to go home on the 8th.
To be honest with you, today is the eighth. I’m writing this from the plane. But in the spirit of travel diary order I was pretending to write it yesterday or this morning, which would have been impossible as our morning started at three am when they brought in the coffee so we could be up and out of the hotel by four, in order to catch a six-forty- five direct flight to Detroit.
We are now in the final three hours and three minutes of that twelve-hour flight. We will clear customs in Detroit, turn around and catch a flight to New York, making the trip home a grand total of 20 hours door to door and bringing this family adventure to an end.
The flight has not been bad as I watched five episodes of the second season of Downton Abbey on my Kindle Fire. I also read a double issue of The Economist, deleted more photos from my MacBook Air, read a good part of James Salter’s new book, no it’s not out yet, and spent some serious time looking down at Mongolia.
Our last day was pretty lazy; you reach a point when you can’t push that much more.
We did make a final stab to see Mao’s body. He was closed. For a dead guy he is really difficult to get to. I’m not sure why he is so unavailable. He’s dead and they have plenty of labor, so keeping the attraction open is really not taxing on anyone. Note to Chinese Govt. keep Mao open all day, at least during the week.
The other thing we tried for was the National Museum, which is purported to be the largest in the world. That was closed too. Every museum does take a day off. We happened to pick the wrong day. Second note to Chinese Govt. keep one of the attractions in the center of town open each day.
Since our first two choices were a bust the girls got the third choice, which was of course open because it involved commerce. It was called The Silk Market. The Silk Market is to silk what the Pearl Market is to pearls – not as much as you are led to believe. We were told that people from all over the world came to see the Chinese silks. So, I was expecting something like you get in India, Benares silk shops for example, where you sit on the floor on silk cushions and endless miles of silk is tossed out before you. You are literally surrounded by hills of silk. I saw one or two silk stalls at The Silk Market.
It was a more intense version of The Pearl Market; these places are pretty much the clearinghouses for all the knock-off goods made in China. And they are endless, thus the girls went nuts. They were so over stimulated by the variety and vastness of the schlock we just let them go. We wandered two floors until we got painfully bored and blessedly saw a place that said foot massage. It was small and unassuming and since we didn’t’ want to buy anything I thought we would get a nice little fifteen minute Chinese foot massage. An hour later with six people working on the two of us any appendage that could be reached by rolling up a sleeve or pant leg was tended to.
The girls somehow found us and wanted to share in the purse department. They have a system, the front room is filled with merchandise, then if you look like a serious purse person they say, “Let me take you to the back room.” I made it into several back rooms. One was so back room, it was like something out of an Agatha Christie novel, a hidden door that looked like a window that was covered with a poster, followed by two doors until you were inside a room that was floor to ceiling knock-off bags. I kept trying to sneak photos, which is exactly what they don’t want you to do. I could have been someone who worked for Hermes as far as they know. But I think Lucy’s bargaining nixed that theory – so much so they actually left us alone in the room. I took the opportunity to snap some shots and within two seconds a guy was standing next to me. I looked behind me and saw a giant camera that was recording our every move. But while they can ask you not to take photos and make it difficult.
I did end up buying something, a knock off Stella McCartney. I had been eyeing the real one for some time. But since she does not use leather but charges the same prices I could never bring myself to do it. I can buy a bag that is not made from real material from people who are for the most part not using real materials, if that makes sense. Plus I felt a tad guilty about taking the photos; emphasis on tad.
By them time we got out of there is was two-thirty, my time flies when you are sorting through rooms of knock-off Tom Ford glasses, and floors of knock-off it bags.
By then we figured we would just eat a big lunch and forgo dinner. I wanted to see Beijing from up high. Since my favorite thing in the world is a rooftop restaurant, especially one that spins. Stick a Denny’s forty floors up make it go round and round and I ‘m in heaven.
Asians love dining with a view so we ended up at the Park Hyatt sixty floors above the city, which gives you an even better vista of the smog.
It was insanely expensive. I think they are compensating for the Cartier love bracelet prices at The Silk House, but we had our final meal, gazed at the now smog soaked Middle Kingdom and toasted the end of our trip.
OK, at seven Glenn and I found our way to The Regent Hotel so he could have a good-bye Cohiba and I sat down AC from him and had a drink.
Great trip. Great memories. Now let’s just hope our suitcases make it.