Panjiayuan Flea Market, White Cloud Temple, Olympic Venues

May 10, 2008

Helen – Today was my day!!!! Tom and Joe took me to the largest flea market in China!!! 

We couldn’t even begin to see it all but I did enough damage in the three hours of shopping. 

The vendors thought I was very good at bargaining and kept giving me the cut throat sign as we had a price war and then gave me the thumb’s up at the end. 

It was a lot of fun! 

One of my prized purchases was a painting of a girl carrying a baby followed by a goat for $45.  

 Our next stop was the White Cloud Temple….Taoist…which was sort of the first national religion,
Lots of statues and incense and bowing….
Note the Ying-Yang symbol
it went on forever even though it looked relatively small from the entrance. 
There was a wishing bell near the entrance….it was enclosed in a large Chinese like coin that was hanging down in a pit.  You bought 50 throwing coins for $1.50 and then threw them at the little bell.  If you hit the bell, then your wish should be granted.  Tom and Joe shared the 50 coins.  Joe hit the bell once and Tom hit it three times. 

Twelve Chinese Zodiac birth signs/years – Helen’s (1945) is a rooster and Joe’s (1950) is a dog, though he has his hand on a monkey.  They were both born under the Aquarius sign according to their birthdates and the Western monthly astrological signs.
Beijing Tower – Central TV Tower
On the way home we stopped to see some of the Olympic structures.  The “Birds Nest,”
the large stadium (110,000) for the opening and closing ceremonies as well as for track and field
Administrative building
and the “Water Cube” (shaped like bubbles) for the swimming events. 
They are unbelievable! 
They are not open to the public yet but we drove pretty close to get a good look.  The facilities are impressive, however, we think people going to the Olympics are going to be surprised and upset with the air pollution, traffic and costs, let alone the difficulty in communicating.  There are relatively few people who can speak English and foreigners are not going to be able to read or pronounce Chinese figures.      




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