Just down the road from Kate’s there’s a big shopping market. Over several floors they sell everything you could possibly imagine from clothing to electronics. Outside the market there are two giant signs warning people not to buy pirated CDs. “Who buys CDs anymore?”, I thought to myself.
Before the shop doors had opened sharply at 10-o’clock a large crowd had already gathered outside. In the midst of the local crowd there also seemed to be a lot of Westerners looking for some of those cheap brand name imitations China has become famousfor. Forget the CDs, there’s a lot of Western brand name clothing here at cheaper prices than you would find in Australia.
On entering, I caught the elevator to the top floor and made my way down, casting an eye over what was being sold on each floor. Each “stall” (or mini-store might be a better description) had a person out the front welcoming you, and asking you to buy their wares. Mistake. Over the last few years I’ve become less and less materialist. I buy my clothes mostly second hand these days. And so when they asked me if I wanted to buy a t-shirt or a jacket, I replied “no, thankyou” politely in Chinese. I may well head back there before I leave Beijing, but at the moment, my head space isn’t about shopping.
I woke early this morning and went for a walk around my neighbourhood. I was keen to explore more of the area in which I’m living, and found myself in some of the backstreets where there are many tailors and associated clothing stores.
I also had an early morning coffee and watched with interest as various expats living here also came in for their morning fix. There was one bloke, a quite well addressed American who devoured a copy of GQ as he drank his coffee.
As I headed back from my walk, I noticed the large number of community safety volunteers out in force. They’re mostly women, but also men, who you can identify by the red armbands. And they were out in force this morning in higher numbers than I’ve seen before.
Later in the morning Kate went off for a scrub at the nearby bath-house while I watched a bit of Chinese television. My conclusion? There seemed to be a lot of studio-based programming. Kids shows. Chat shows. Quiz shows. Panel discussions. That kind of thing.
Mid-afternoon and we headed out to the 798 district where there was an exhibition opening, featuring the combined works of some Chinese artists, some urban Australian artists, and some artists from the Kimberley region. My favourite was a giant boab tree which featured images of the people who participated in the project.
And from there it was back for another evening of lovely food at the same restaurant we had dinner the other night. This time our group expanded to ten, including the artists who Kate has brought to China, along with an American artist who has made friends with the group.
As we walked back tonight, there was a chill in the air. There were also strong winds. “Will it blow away the pollution or bring in the desert sands?, I asked Kate. Tomorrow will tell, I guess.