How the Cookie Crumbles

An irreverant view of life after SIXTY-FIVE

Beijing Day 5, Part 1: The Pearl Store and Summer Palace

90 Comments


The bus set off at 9:00 a.m.

Upon entering the Pearl building, we were bustled into a small room with folding card chairs. Our pearl instruction lady described the different types of pearls: fresh water and salt water and advised the former as best, throwing in some color distinctions. She presented round and irregular samples as well as the reasons for the various colors.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearl

Thank you Microsoft

Thank you Microsoft

After this quickie presentation, we sprinted behind the pearl instructor into a larger, showier room with thick royal blue carpet and plushier chairs. Models, dressed in formal wear, appeared on the catwalk to showcase and model pearl necklaces and earrings. I wasn’t enthralled, but still  astonished by the flashy show, and I cannot lie, the jewelry was gorgeous. The fashion ladies withdrew and The Group 8 were bid to follow by a forward flourish. With a dramatic pull on a set of double doors, a whole new world materialized:  a magical place, with lights so bright they blinded at first. Rows and rows of glass cases, shiny as jewels themselves, glittered up and down the aisles. I swear a saleslady appeared for every customer. I noticed only one male clerk. A tour group left as we arrived and shortly afterward the French Group showed up. The showroom hummed and bustled like a beehive. New sales staff seemed to emerge out of thin air as needed.

Set up in one corner, I noticed a coffee and wine bar with bar chairs. No, nothing here was free to pacify / massage the customer. A list of hefty prices hung on obvious display. Avoiding sales staff who followed you like a shadow is thirsty work but I wasn’t buying anything. I’ve never cared about pearls and most jewelry my whole life (except earrings). Why would I buy them at this age?

Lorena and Bonnie bought jewelry. Our few non-buying members huddled together and made for the door at the first opportunity. We found an unbelievable treasure while we wandered around till everyone finished shopping. The walls displayed every size of oyster shell you never imagined with plagued descriptions underneath. However, we weren’t given time to amble around and were hustled out to the bus. Why? We had to go. So fast?

See the 'pearled' cream. One is for day, the other night.

See the ‘pearled’ cream. One is for day, the other night.

A clerk pushing Pearl skin cream caught my attention and said, “This will make your skin look 20 years younger.”

“Can I have a written guarantee?” I asked.

“Sure.”

Such a quick response. “What good is it if my face is young and the rest of me is sagging?”

“Madam, you can use it all over your body.”

“Look at me,” another clerk piped in, “I’m 70.”

We all tittered because she couldn’t have been a day over 29. I gave her kudos for her quick comeback, though. I hope she’s worth her weight in gold.

 

The Summer Palace

The Hall of Benevolence and Longevity

The Hall of Benevolence and Longevity

 

I enjoyed our tour of the Summer Palace. The park was enormous (over 700 acres, taken up mostly by Kunming Lake); a peaceful place to spend the day. It has a long, remarkable history. This will give you a better outline and will take less time to take in.

http://www.travelchinaguide.com/cityguides/beijing/summer.htm    (2.53 min)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ple6S_pjFzU

The Marble Boat

The Marble Boat

 

The Men’s and Ladies’ washrooms were again across from each other with a communal sink in between. The facilities tiny cubicles with elbow-knocking walls. I don’t take up much room but had a difficult doing the deed. Ouch. Lucky for me, the door I happened to offer a pedestal toilet. I heard later, the rest were squats. It was dark as well and I could hardly see.

Bridge to a point on the water

Bridge to a point on the water

 

Quick Facts on Education:

  • Kindergarten is bi-lingual (Chinese and English)
  • Government-paid until age 15
  • School 7:30 to 4:30 p.m. five days per week
  • For better school must pay $6,000 to $12,000 extra per year
  • Sometimes extra classes on Saturdays
  • Music lessons at school (not outside in music school)
  • Beijing has 70 universities
  • University cost for 2 semesters  $3,500 / year
  • College costs $1,700 / year
  • 70-80% Chinese kids go to college in Beijing
  • School vacation in winter 21 days (for travel)
  • Summer vacation in summer (2 months for travel)
  • $40,000 – $50,000 to study in U.S. paid by parents
  • http://news.at0086.com/China-Universities/The-university-fees-in-China.html

 

Up Next, July 18th, Olympic Park

For all related posts, click on China tab at the top of the page

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Author: Let's CUT the Crap!

I'm getting a little LONG in the tooth and have things to say about---ouch---AGEing. I believe it's certainly a state of mind but sometimes it's nice to hear that you're NORMAL. I enjoy reading by the truckload. I'm a grandma but I don't feel OLD although I'm not so young anymore. My plan is to stick it out as long as I can on this lovely planet and only will leave it kicking and screaming!

90 thoughts on “Beijing Day 5, Part 1: The Pearl Store and Summer Palace

  1. I’ve been on a few tours in other countries where they take us to a jewelry store and try to get us to part with our money. I’ve never liked that kind of thing, so I usually don’t buy anything just to spite them. ;)

    Pretty cheap college tuition. If only that were true here!

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  2. Every story you tell makes me determined not to take a packaged tour in China unless it gives time to explore. Love your photos.

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  3. Most tours include the ‘necessary’ you must buy stops. You did well and I know you only wear earrings, but stop this nonsense with the body/face cream darling. You look brilliant for 70. Was a funny little story though and she was quick, as were you. Love the photos Tess and your continuing adventure. xx

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  4. That’s one big park and so happy to read it was peaceful and that you enjoyed. I’m that people travel from all over the world to partake in purchasing peals from China. Terry worked with a man while at NASA who did this and told us the stories of going there for this. For me, this wouldn’t be my choice for a tour stop but hey to each his own. Again, glad you enjoyed at the park. :-)

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    • Someone might crave real pearls, but not me. Lots of things I do not NEED to have and I won’t bend when it’s MY money, or even if it’s yours. You don’t want it, don’t buy it is my motto.

      Thanks for coming by, Paulette and thanks for your comment. Always nice to see you. That’s what this is about: exchanging ideas. :-P

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      • I left out a word in my comment, lol. I meant to say “I’m aware of people that travel…” This is so funny that it reads like I like to travel and shop. Nothing could be further from that. I DON’T LIKE SHOPPING AT ALL. Unless, and on rare occasions it’s to buy something for someone else or my dogs. And I don’t wear any jewelry other than a simple gold wedding band. This is so funny. My idea of a good vacation is seeing the countryside, meeting the people, experiencing the culture. Or better yet, staying around the nice parts where I live, the country, the ocean, etc.

        Yup, I’ve never been one to crave “real pearls” or jewelry or much of material things. Give me people. Give me writing. Give me dogs. I’m still laughing. And yes, I always like connecting with you, Tess. Now, to get my fingers to correctly express my ideas, lol. ;-)

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      • Glad you’ve enjoyed this. What the point of not telling it like it is. Seems tourists (or westerners) are liked for their supposed deep pockets.
        I have a weakness for skin creams and the magic they promise but not at $200.00 a jar either.
        Thanks so much for sticking with this tour. I hope to keep you entertained. Have a nice weekend, Paulette.

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  5. You are really seeing Beijing! Do they take you riding through neighborhoods?

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  6. I love these posts! The pictures are incredible, too. You describe everything very well!

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  7. I’m appreciating the virtual tour, especially since I doubt I’ll ever get there. (My Aussie family would clobber me anyway–they’ve been on my case for years to go Down Under.) That “facilities” stuff alone would deter me. The ladies in the jewelry store? Eh. Not much different than the stores in a jewelry ‘plaza’ I guess. Thanks, Tess!

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  8. Although my grandparents had an outhouse until 1969, I’ve seriously gotten use to it. Don’t know if I’d want to travel bad enough to squat…especially in public. I mean it’s different if you are out on a deserted highway and you just have to go.

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  9. Really enjoying your style of observation! Your tour reminds me of the way people were escorted and “handled” in The Hunger Games books. (I found the books quite fascinating, although I was glad when I finished.) Same as in George Orwell except it’s been longer since I read those books.
    – Clare

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  10. Sounds like the sales ladies were a far cry from the Mao-jacketed pioneers from not so long ago.

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  11. Your continuing saga enthralls! The pearl shop cracks me up, very good. You did well not buying, they likely took you to the most expensive shop in all of China. Love the photos.

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    • These are all ‘fronted’ as factories but are not. First you’re enthralled by the magic and then you’re hooked in. No me, though. I am a tough bird. :-)

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      • Good for you! I bought pearls in Singapore but by the time I did I had a great jeweler.

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      • I suppose the way the presentation went is what ticks me off a bit: the drama. It’s only in looking back that I realize what stuck in my crawl. I am not easily impressed. Still, any country will do its best to grab as many tourist dollars as it can. I’m sure these trips must be subsidized because of how little we paid for an inclusive 24-day vacation. :-)

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  12. You really did take in some amazing sights. I am with you on not buying anything during a tour. It is a bit of a racket.

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  13. That was so funny about the clerk saying she was 70. Very clever. I would be huddled with you as a non buyer. Gorgeous photos Tess.

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  14. I hate those pushy sales tours. Morocco was the worst place that I have been for this.

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  15. I always feel really awkward in those situations where you’re being pressured to buy, and sometimes I give in just to stop feeling awkward! I mean I wouldn’t go ahead and buy pearls just to stop feeling awkward, but say if there had been a cheap fridge magnet that says “I love pears” I’d have gone for that! Ha! I’m guessing it wasn’t a fridge magnet type of place though :)

    Lovely photos and enjoyed the education facts too (as someone who works in education!).

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  16. Hahaha, I’ve been on ‘tours’ like the pearl one, gold in India, carpets in Turkey and pewter in Malaysia and always managed to escape!
    The floating part of the palace is stunning, I think I would enjoy that part of your day :-)

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  17. Tess. Love all your pictures and the stories. I AM a pearl lover (my birthstone) and buy them whenever I can, but I would have walked out of the Chinese pearl “jam” as well. Be assured that whatever they were selling, you could come home and get it cheaper (I’ve learned that by mistake). The lunch probably was a bum-rush as well. These are the negative things about foreign travel, but the best part is meeting the people and seeing the magnificent architecture and culture. It looks as if you enjoyed it all. So glad you got a chance to do this.

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    • Thank you for the visit and comments. Yes, I DID enjoy the trip. So many new things to see and experience. At the time I didn’t dwell about the way the presentation went. Afterwards, reading my journal, I became a little ticked. Still an adventure to look back on. I simply tell it how I felt.

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  18. Oh gosh Tess, I do love your humour. ‘What good is making my face young if it doesn’t match the rest of me?’ is absolutely priceless, LOL. And I’m with you on the earring thing g/f! xo :) <3

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    • Thanks for the visit and comment. Nice to be in good company earring-wise. :-D (I noticed)
      The pearls were awesome but I’m more into skin cream. For the money I paid, I DO like it still two months later. Some creams lose their magic in less than a month. <3

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  19. Tess, don’t eve go to St. Marten in the Virgin Islands…it’s all about the jewels…store after store of diamonds, gold, emeralds…you name it, they’ve got it. And while I never thought of myself as a ‘jewelry person’, I admit it was jaw dropping, beautiful, and abhorrent all at the same time. The contrast — much of the Caribbean lives in poverty, yet the rich cruise clients swarm to buy baubles…something to experience.

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    • Yes, indeed. It’s all the drama, and in retrospect I feel ticked to have been treated in this way. Then again, I can be a bit of a drama queen.
      I understand about countries wanting tourist dollars, after all we are the tourists but not all our pockets are deep. :-D

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  20. I am quite surprised to read this about their education. Do I understand correctly that a student who goes to US to study gets $40,000 to $50,000 from their own government to pay for it???

    I think I could have passed, completely, on the pearl stuff. But that marble boat is something else!

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  21. I don’t know where to start. This post is chock-full. Love the pearl-seller’s comment. I have to remember that. Did they enjoy their job or just going through the motions? When I was in Russia (when it was USSR), no one cared about the customer

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    • I wouldn’t double there is high pressure to sell. The girls / ladies sounded down-to-earth and fun as demonstrated by the cute remark I mentioned. Our trip must have been government subsidized because of the rock bottom price for all-inclusive 24 days and they want tourist dollars back.

      Do you mean in USSR they didn’t care if you bought or didn’t make nice with the customers?

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  22. It is always nice to ride along on vicarious adventures and your sense of humor is much appreciated by me! Smiles, Robin

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  23. Well, this settles it. I’m sending my son to China for college.

    But if the university toilets are squat-style, then forget it. A fellow expects certain educational standards to be met, after all.

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    • I will bet the toilets are most likely squats but have no way of knowing. Aren’t education costs fabulous there? The upper crust who can afford to send their kids abroad also do it to capture an edge over the extreme competition for jobs in China.

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  24. Some people will tell you anything to get a sale! I would’ve been tempted though. Every little helps! :-)

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    • At least I got a good belly laugh and the cream WAS a bargain. Two months later I still like it. Most new creams last in my good books for a month or less.

      It WAS nice to see the clerk had a sense of humor.

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  25. I enjoyed the post. I think I shall stick to walking though – not tempted to buy anything on the camino because I would have to carry it on my back for the rest of,the journey!

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  26. Now that really was a quick witted clerk! Interesting post Tess :)

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  27. So…did you buy the cream Tess? I bet it feels lovely on your skin if nothing else. And I would have been fascinated by the oysters on the walls too. Love that quick thinking.. lol ;-) As for that marble boat, wow, never seen anything like that in my life! Looks like something you’d find on a movie set! Fascinating, all of it :-) <3

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    • That boat doesn’t move. It’s for dining. What? Yep and it’s been around a l.o.n.g. time.

      The cream was a steal. I still like it almost three months after my holiday. It’s cooling. Has Chinese herbs in it (don’t know what they are) and gold flecks in the night cream and silver flecks in the day cream. My love affair with a new cream hardly ever lasts this long. :-) <3 <3

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  28. What an interesting pearl buying experience, Tess. I’m with you on the jewelry – just earrings. I love the clerk with the quick comeback for the skin cream. And that summer palace is gorgeous! You sure packed a lot into your trip. :) ~Terri

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  29. Nice to read more of your holiday impressions!

    After reading the last batch I went into “research China” mode (feeling so ignorant about it) and it’s just a bit depressing. I watched some things about Tienanmen (you remember?), and stumbled across a channel called “China uncensored”. It did make me realise we’re often a bit too blasé about our situation. It is such a privilege to live in a country where you can think – and say – whatever you want!

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