Howard's Blog

This is Howard C. Park's blog. Interests: live music, simulations and modeling, languages, iPod, social and business networking, systems thinking, history of science, management, BBQ, trivia, good coffee, organizational learning, traveling, personal histories.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Top Three tourist stops in Beijing

Quick! can you name the top three tourist sites in Beijing? OK, you can probably guess the 1st two:
  1. The Great Wall, or at least some segment of the Great Wall that's near Beijing
  2. Then you have the Forbidden City (which is the "Palace Museum", and let's say you get Tiananmen Square for free)
So what's the 3rd? According to wikipedia (sourcing the China Daily), the 3rd best-known tourist destination is Silk Street shopping center. It is a mecca for travelers around the world, the uber-stall-mart for the new Millennium. It's a flea market on steroids, and the unprepared tourist can easily get lost and/or accidentally purchase gifts for friends they never thought about. Think of anything you can think of, and it's one sale.... well, actually that's not true. More on that later.

Our host, W, is very good at taking care of us. He had asked us earlier what we wanted to see in Beijing. One of our colleagues had heard of Silk Street, so it remained on our list, after the 1st two must-sees. We had a short 1.5 hours or so and a driver who could drop us off.

At first glance, it doesn't seem that spectacular. I have seen my share of china-town markets. I grew up in a part of the city where most everything was stalls that hocked everything from fruits, shoes, towels, school supplies, candy, and the like. But after checking out a few floors and the variety of merchandise, I must say that I was impressed.

Here is a sign that was in main lobby. I thought it was intended for the customers; a close look reveals that it's actually intended for the employees. On the left, you can see a part of a "best salesperson" list. What intrigued me wa the list of "Recommended Words" and "Forbidden Words" in English and Chinese.

"Recommended Words" include "Looks as though it was made only for you" and "It's my pleasure to help you". "Forbidden Words" include, "You are crazy", "Sh*t", "Stupid guys", and three phrases that are not translated. Does anyone know why?
|| hcpark, 5:41 PM


Blogger Sarah Hazel, at 11:29 PM  
I've been to all three places. The first two (Great Wall and Forbidden Palace) haven't changed much from 1994 when I was first in Beijing to this past July 2007. But the Silk Market has gone through a dramatic change. The silk market used to really be an outdoor group of stalls. But now, it's a shopaholic's paradise. I didn't enjoy it all that much, but I did get some nice shangtung silk at a reasonable price (after I bickered with the saleswoman incessantly).

I wish I had seen the employee board when I was there. I would have asked our translator to give us the English translation. Of course, being a young Christian woman, she likely would have blanched and fled to save face.

Next time I'm there (which might be never), I'll have to look for the board and get someone to tell me what it says.
Blogger Minh Han, at 7:45 PM  

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