As it turns out, Chinese people love “Chinatowns” so much that they actually have them in their own country. I mean sure, we’ve seen Chinatown’s in American and Canadian cities, even in Mexico. On this trip, we’ve seen them everywhere but Russia. We didn’t really spend any time at any of them because we figured we’d be seeing the real thing in China, right? Well, it turns out…. the markets here mostly look like any other old Chinatown. It got me wondering though, the Chinese are so good at creating counterfeit knock-offs (they even created counterfeit Apple stores here, WTF) is it possible that we’re actually traveling in a Chinese knock-off of China? These guys are pretty tricky, I wouldn’t put it past them. One good point on the Chinatown shopping…. You really don’t have to worry whether the cheap-o souvenirs are made in China, because you already know they ALL are! That keeps it simple at least.
Quick wrap-up of today: We ran some errands in the morning, got a late start and explored around Tiananmen Square a bit. It’s really crowded, and they have it surrounded by secure fencing. It’s seems like protests there wouldn’t go very well now, especially since the exit is very small and under the street. After that, we grabbed a snack in Wangfujing market, which is kind of a “house of horrors” Chinatown food market. Check out the video below, you’ll love it! In the evening, we watched a Peking Opera. An older Japanese couple sat next to us and when one of the staff handed them headphones I verified my assumption with “Nihon-jin desu ka?” which really lit them up. Martha and I chatted with them for a while in our broken smattering of Japanese, enough that they wanted to take pictures with us. It really reminded us how much we love Japan…. and the Japanese people. They’re so polite. They follow the rules. They make everyone follow the rules. They (and their country) are clean. And their language….somehow it just sounds so familiar and welcoming.
Anyhow, not much else to report today. The day started out overcast and a little rainy (left over from yesterday), but it cleared up real nice in the afternoon. We have a bit of a “hike” planned for tomorrow, an all day kind of deal, so we’re hoping the weather stays nice tomorrow as well. It’s supposed to. We did pick up a few things for a picnic lunch tomorrow from Wal-Mart on the way home. Yes, we actually spotted a Super Wal-Mart on our walk back to the hotel from the Peking Opera. Let me say that it was a welcome sight to see that place. If Wal-Mart took over in China too, that would be just fine. It must be cheap for them to stock the Wal-Marts here, since most of the products are made in China anyway. We did manage to find an authentic jar of the ultra-rare American delicacy: Skippy creamy peanut butter. In general, Wal-mart is the same here though. Mostly just dirtier and with weirder tropical fruit.
There was one section a little different from an American walmart: the “house of horrors” traditional Chinese style meat market, complete with dried open air meat and a few animal corpses.
Here’s a few pics from today:
Oh yeah, and Chinatown snack time (it’s not dim sum):