Mary Anne's Trip Report for Beijing 2004
We took our second trip to China on September 30-October 5 2004 (four full days). Our first
trip was a 22 day "grand tour" of China with Grand Circle Tours which was the best trip we
had taken. We found an inexpensive trip on Pacific Delight that included Jinglun Hotel (nice
hotel), airfare, two days of tours, five breakfasts, two lunches and airport transfers for about
$1300 a person (16,666 frequent flier miles on United).  We were there right  in the middle
of the national holiday week celebration (Oct 1-7) and there were thousands of Chinese
tourists.  There were so  many Chinese that the vendors who swarmed around us during our
first trip, also took a holiday.  We saw the Great Wall, Ming Tombs, Sacred Way, Forbidden
Palace, Tienamen Square, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace (got to ride the dragon boat)
as we did on the first trip but also saw Bei Hei Park—huge and gorgeous, Lama Temple
with the world’s largest Buddha. My work also arranged for two graduate students to meet
us at our hotel and show us around.  They showed us the National History Museum near
Tienamen Square where we saw some Chinese treasures in pottery, sculpture etc and even
more interesting, a wax museum exhibit of people China considered important and an
exhibit dedicated to their astronaut. The wax museum was interesting—Tang emperors
juxtaposed with modern day figures. Chinese were getting their picture taken next to
notaries such as Mao and Jackie Chan. The two Americans in the display were Charlie
Chaplin (acting) and Bill Gates.  Hmmmmmm…  The Grad students took us there on the
subway that was right outside our hotel. Same type of layout as Shanghai  but older and
with  fewer escalators. The students took us to lunch at a restaurant with no English menurs
and  helped us shop for DVDs. A member of our tour group bought some DVDs from a
vendor on bicycle that turned out to be damaged. When going into a store, you were allowed
to try them on a DVD player.

Speaking of shopping…..Don and I went back to the Pearl Market (Hong Qiao). That is the
best place to go shopping in Beijing and maybe China  IMHO. We had more time than we
did last year . I went back to the same stall (Wenli) where I got my sets of seed pearl
necklaces and earrings and told them I was a repeat customer and got a good deal on
several items.  We had time to visit stalls on other floors. I went back to the second floor for
purses and luggage and got a nice leather Gucci purse and a Kate Spade canvas bag . We
got a leather carry on suitcase ,some table runners and placements/napkins to match, silk
slippers and the piece de resistance—4  watches for family members. A tour member told us
how to buy good quality knockoff watches. We got ours for $20 a piece.  Our hotel was near
silk alley. We got several things there including 4 logo polo golf shirts for Don for $5 each,
more silk kites, several leather purses for our daughter Katie ranging from $3-$5 each.  I
did not like this venue as much as the pearl market as it was outside and the vendors
grabbed you to try to bring you to see their stuff. The bargaining was a little too aggressive
even for me.  During our tours, we also went to several “factories”.   We got an apple jade
carving of a crane that matches our silk rug. We also broke down and bought silk quilts (full
and king sizes) for $150 for the two (we did not get covers, bought duvet covers when we got
home); in addition, we got many playing cards showing Emperors of China. We brought an
extra empty suitcase and the cards were probably the heaviest things.

Crazy to go to China for such a short time?  Maybe we are crazy but we enjoyed our trip.
We got to see a country we like again, saw new things, did great shopping and got airline
miles we needed to requalify for premier executive status on United.