Natalie Goes to Japan

40 year old very married blonde woman having a midlife crisis who heads to Japan alone to follow her dreams. Be careful what you wish for ... you just may get it.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Taxi Drivers Galore

One of my favorite things about Beijing is how cheap the taxis are. The most I've paid for a taxi is about 5 bucks, but most of the time it's 2 or 3 bucks. Which is about what I pay to ride the bus in Japan. The first taxi I grabbed took me to Beihai Park. As it was a Sunday, there were many locals making a day in the park, so it was very busy. Lots of little pavilions, and old fashioned buildings and a temple or two surrounding a lake. It was fun poking around this corner, and peeking around that one, to discover the many nooks and crannies of the place. My favorite place was the Seven Dragon Screen. Also there was this fabulous temple with hundreds of buddhist carvings mounded in the center. Unfortunately, you are blocked from going around it, so you can only see the front and parts of the sides. I would really have liked to go all the way around. And some good mood lighting could have made it even more special. Then I took the ferry boat to the island in the lake. Brrrr, was that cold. The island wasn't as fun for me. It was really cold, and they were doing construction, and it was too crowded, so I breezed past the sights there and made my way over to the oldest part of the park. This is the area that Kublai Khan ruled China from. There is almost nothing left from his reign there, but still it was cool to be in the same location. I then hailed the second taxi of the day and had it take me to Wangfujin, one of the famous shopping areas. I found a few places to barter for some tacky souveniers and quickly walked through the malls. But I got grabbed by one of the cosmetic ladies and let her moisturize me. China was brutal on my skin, and I was always very dehydrated there. Of course she only moisturized one half of my face, so that I could see the before and after. And she used one of those horrifying good mirrors that shows every wrinkle and pore in your skin. I looked so bad I ran screaming from the place (the moisturized side looked a little better than the non). I grabbed another taxi and went to the Friendship Store. It's more expensive than the markets, but then again you can trust what you buy is for real. I knew for sure that every time a market vendor told me it was "real silk" or "real jade" that they were blatantly lying. I didn't find anything I wanted, but the real reason I had come was outside. My book told me this was the best place to find DVDs. And what I was looking for was TV series DVD's and hadn't found any so far in Beijing. So I thought there would be stalls outside. Wrong, just a couple of guys saying "Pssst, lady, want a copy of Dream Girls?" while flashing open there coats. Well, I went ahead and bought a few, even though they were all movies, and no chance to prove they were any good, but I was getting a little desperate. I jumped in the last cab of the day and headed back to the hostel. I had made arrangements to go see an Acrobatic show in the evening. It was okay, but not particularly amazing. It was called "Top Acrobatic Class" and all the performers were children. And they did a lot more hamming it up than amazing feats. Although the thing the girls did with juggling and twirling umbrellas with their feet was really spectacular. Oh, and I ate some good popcorn, too. But I took a van there and back, no taxi.


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