on November 27, 2006
Just a couple “rings” away from the center of Beijing is Panjiayuan, an outdoor flea market where you can find every souvenir you could ever want, including ones you never even knew you couldn’t live without: alarm clocks featuring cartoon portraits of Chairman Mao, whose outstretched hands point to the present time; golden lighters which when triggered play classic Communist tunes; amber, coral, and jade necklaces; silk chopstick holders emblazoned with Mongolian motifs; and your very own copies of someone else’s tomb offerings, including desktop replicas of the Xi’an warriors. Don’t miss the row of vendors with “one-of-a-kind” terracotta and wooden statues of the Buddha, horses, camels, chariots, and the like, where—if you have an expert eye, a lot of luck, and even better bargaining skills—you may actually pick up the “real deal.” Of course, don’t be disappointed if you return the next day to find the identical piece for sale again. Bear in mind that bargaining in Beijing is something of a cultural art form. If you don’t speak the language, bring a calculator to communicate; be polite but firm, and most importantly, only engage someone in such banter if you ultimately intend on buying the item. The market is only open on Saturdays and Sundays, so be sure to plan accordingly.
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