Today, I went out to the Panjiayuan markets, written about in the guidebook that I had which said it was a colorful marketplace full of photography opportunities. That was definitely a true statement. Making my way on the subway changing from one line to another, I made my way to the markets and was emptied out onto the sidewalk with no markets in sight. Enter my trusty iPhone, and I see that it was just one block away.
Winding around the sidewalk, I then found the path that lead me to the markets. The street was full of people looking at various wares and antiques spread out on little blankets, each stall selling something completely different than another. From a bunch of walnuts, to old war paraphernalia, to bronze buddhas, to wooden jewelry, the sights were pretty interesting and you couldn’t help but look.
Finally, I saw an entrance to the real markets, and holy cow, the market place was a buzzing. I didn’t even know where to begin because looking to the left, I saw rows and rows of artwork, antiques, handicrafts, and jade, while to the right I saw calligraphy works, more antiques, pottery, and furniture. What a beautiful set of amazing items, all waiting to be bargained for.
I decided to start on the left hand side, and while I was busy taking some photos at any chance I got, I also found myself keeping a tally of things I thought looked interesting, and how to come back to them. After a good hour, I decided to break for lunch and found a random café in the market area that summoned me for lunch.
I sat down next to a German family, a brother, a sister, and a mother. The mother reminded me of a dear friend’s mother (Judith), and hearing the girl speak great English with a hint of a German accent, I couldn’t help but view her as dear Judith. She was living in Beijing and working as an art restorationist, going around doing various projects around Beijing restoring artwork. Her brother was visiting along with the mother, and came to see the sights of Beijing before her work in Beijing was completed.
We enjoyed our conversation at lunch together, and I loved the chicken sandwich, and we were on our way to break open our wallets in the ping pong tango of bargaining for goods. I went back to the stalls that I had seen items that I wanted, and not knowing if things are fake, real, authentic, or quality, it’s hard to pay a lot for anything without some type of verification. So I only went for a couple of items that I thought would be conversation pieces, like an old canteen, a Tibetan vibration bowl, and a couple other items.
I made my way back home with my new wares, and packed up the box I had received from a nearby hotel the previous day when looking to ship my vase back home. This box was the perfect size, and I was able to pack it tight with the other items, and get it prepped for the next day to bring to ship out.
That night, I went to one of the best dumpling chains in Asia, Dai Tin Fung, a Taiwanese dumpling house that is high quality and great. I enjoyed a great meal complete with many different kinds of dumplings from fried, to steamed. The food was delicious, and I definitely enjoyed being able to watch the kitchen make the dumplings in the back.