Friday, July 6, 2012

Beijing 2012 - Day 18 (Panjiayuan and 3.3 Underground)

Friday morning begins with a couple hours spent strolling the Panjiayuan Antiques Market, a must-visit stop for anyone seeking rows and rows of Mao-morabilia, stacks of books, piles of knickknacks, and a seemingly endless array of scrolls and signature "chops." I purchase a knock-off print that mashes up Cultural Revolution-era idealism with post-Deng "To Be Rich is Glorious" capitalist excess [Wang Guangyi's 1993 Great Castigation Series: Coca-Cola]. I can only hope this thing will survive the trip from China to my SJSU office!

Later, I look for the 3.3 Building's collection of underground parking lot street art - once more getting hopelessly lost in the process. When I finally reach my destination, I spot an amazing assortment of graffiti [More pix here]. I also meet an inquisitive fellow who sports a red armband and gentle amazement at my presence. He asks question after question and announces his plans to follow me throughout his underground domain. My new friend asks for my mobile phone number but settles for my work number. I snap some final photos and begin the search for a gracious exit.

The evening ends with a follow-up journey to the Silk Market to hunt for more t-shirts. That's when I learn the value of having small bills Trying to wrap up one especially brutal haggling session, I face a young woman willing to batter me into submission. Barely suppressing a smile, she slaps my arm, repeatedly assuring me, "You crazy! You crazy!" when I'm foolish enough to ask for my change. She even grabs something I'd bought from someone else and adds that purchase to our new "negotiation." Her playful theatrics are worth every Yuan I've spent. 

Day 17 | Day 19

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