Beijing 2009 - Shopping Stops
Most of the shops are state-run, so at least you know the products are of decent quality. Try to avoid the more outrageously priced items, and you should be alright. In fact I found many of the shopping stops to be highly interesting and educational. The staff are always well trained and know the products really well. They are very seasoned salesmen, providing a smooth and entertaining experience even for the uninterested. Plus you get free tastes of the products, what more could you ask for ?
One of the first shops we visited was a tea shop called "Dr. Tea". You can get some nice tea here, and prices are reasonable.
At the pearl shop you get to see live pearl oysters. That was an eye-opening experience. The high-grade pearls are of course made into jewelry, while the low-grade pearls are ground into powder and made into face creams. Face creams ? Apparently the pearl powder help to block off UV rays and protect the face. Believe it or not !
Watch your wallets here as you could end up blowing some serious money on the pearls !
This jade shop is owned by a Hong Kong character actor. Lucky for us the owner was around to entertain the visitors. He was a really good salesman and like the old Chinese saying - could "talk until the birds come to his hands". We were like lamb to the slaughter - most of us ended up buying something from the shop !
At the silk shop, the main sales pitch was on the silk comforters. Apparently silk is so dense and tough that it never gets dirty, and the comforter can be easily sanitized under the sun. Also, it is supposed to to breath very well, and give you a very luxurious and comfortable protection in your sleep. Only the emperors and royalty had the previlege of using them in the past. I wouldn't know how good they really are, as I didn't buy one.
The emperor and empress' silk robes on display at the shop.
The shopping stops were supposed to be a big nuisance, but they ended up really enjoyable. I guess it was the people you are with, as we managed to turn all the situations into great entertainment for ourselves.