Oh, what a difference a day makes. The dreaded tapeworm, parasite, or small Asian that entered my system seems to have left, and after 13 hours sleep, I'm a new woman. As I return home in a mere 7 days, I have much to do and much to buy. Today, I made up for lost time. After breakfast, which I was delightedly able to keep down, we hit the Silk Market. There is no silk at the Silk Market, but there is fake silk, and fake everything else. As told by Jason the flight attendant, this is the place to buy North Face. So I did. Alex picked up some Lacoste and Adidas, and I must say, is quite good at bargaining. The student, it seems, has become the master. We ran into another family, much like ours, and both moms comisserated at how their sons love to haggle.
Often on these trips, I spot families just like ours. They're always from a coast, the dad is always carrying a International Herald Tribune, the mom has expensive walking shoes, tons of maps and travel books, and a good, non-designer bag, and the kids give us knowing looks. Many of my friends find it bizarre that my family takes a big trip together every year, but we're not alone. I remember at 17, we went on a European cruise up to Russia and through Northern Europe, and I met MacKenzie, a 20 year old from Greenwich, CT travelling with his family and 16 year old sister. "Ah", he said when he saw me, "Travelling with the family on a non-optional world tour? Let me charge you a drink." We spent an all nighter in the bar, trading war stories of the bathrooms at the Louvre and pickpockets in Rome. That night, he taught me how to order champagne as we toasted our travels. When we left ship, he found me and said, "Hey Beth. Maybe I'll see you at the piramids, next time." One can only dream.
After shopping at the knock-off extravaganze, we hit the Ghost Market. Possibly the most famous market in China, this was unlike anything I've ever heard of. Covered stalls filled with painted human skulls, revolutionary memoribillia, Tibetian jewelry, caligraphy brushes, and tons of old anitiques were packed with locals and tourists alike. I found a little shop along the side selling amazing black and white photography. In a bin in the corner was a pile of old, rejected photos. I pulled up a stool and spent 30 minutes shuffling through them, pulling the ones I liked. My uncle Ted, a frequent commenter here on the blog, is a photographer who would have died upon entry into this place. It became inperative that I find him something. For mere pennies, I walked away with a handful of old photos and the undying love of the girl running the shop.
Amidst the stalls, I found incredible, old jewelry and accessories. I bought some silver and jade earrings for Mercedes and tried to talk dad into buying me a vintage cello. No luck, although he promised to buy me a silk lamp in Hong Kong if I carried it on the plane. Gladly. This was his way of getting out of buying me a real Cartier watch, as my fake one tragically passed away. To his dismay, there's actually a Cartier boutique in our lobby, and I found it a sign that I was meant to have one. Apparently not.
Mom and dad headed off to explore some palace and architectural feat of genius, as Alex and opted to cab it back to the hotel and order room service burgers. Ah, civilization. Tonight, we're off to some fancy French joint, and bright and early tomorrow, we leave for Guilin. I have no idea about this Guilin place, but we're only there for two days to see the Li River and some random caves, and then it's off to Hong Kong. I can't wait to get to HK, as I consider it an international mecca. All things cool are in Hong Kong, as well as more knock-off markets. And I can stock up there, as our flight home has no baggage weight limitations. Although, all you boys that have requested Rolex's, keep in mind my prinstinely maintained Cartier lasted a week. I make no promises that your watches will survive the flight. I shall do my best, however. Though should I get arrested at customs, you'll have to bail me out.
I'm off to check out the pool, hoping to spot my Japanese rock star friend and make actual contact. He sat near us at breakfast this moring, listening to an MP3 player and bobbing his head like he actually understood the gangsta rap I'm positive he was listening to. Oh, you crazy foreigners. I've become an expert at hotel gossip, and have befriended many employees in my need to be nosy. Being so far away from home, I have no idea what's going on with my friends. I'm desperate for info and must resort to spying on Australian tourists and Japanese rockstars. It's midnight on Saturday in San Francisco. I know you guys are out partying without me and it's driving me nuts. If there's anything I hate more than food-poisoning, it's being out of the loop. Send me e-mail gossip immediately.
As an aside, my brilliant and gifted friend Jesse just updated her website. Check it out and buy everything. www.thejessebcollection.com
Props to her and Zoe for sending me updates and headlines. I'm assuming I can update from Guilin, but as no one's ever heard of this place, who knows. We shall soon see.