today started obnoxiously early. i woke up at 8am to head out with anup, andrew, zhou yun, and yuan yi for a day of shopping... and i hate shopping. then the day in a cafe watching a indie documentry film about the underground rock scene in beijing. who'd a thunk it?
yes, i know it sounds strange. i agreed to go out for a day of shopping. but i figured that since yuan yi was driving us i could see all the shopping markets in one day and then i'd never have to go back. the start of the day was exciting because yuan yi had lost his drivers license and official id card the night before. this was particularly bad since he was planning on going to the us in two weeks. so after calling the restaurant he was at last night and a cab company we discovered that he had lost his wallet in the cab the night before and we made arrangements to meet the cab driver later in the day to get it.
once this was settled we really started of the day by going to a not-so-great dim sum restaurant for breakfast. this was a restaurant that really should not have had fish in the windows. one fish looked very dead and pretty moldy. there was also a lobster that spent most it's time on it's back. there was one live fish that kept trying to jump out of it's tank most likely in an effort to commit suicide.
once breakfast was over with we started the shopping. first we went to liu li change. this was a larger street in one of the hutongs. (a hutong is an older undeveloped are of the city.) we spent a couple hours here walking up and down the street. the stores had mostly chinese tourist junk. andrew and anup also bought souvenirs for people back home since they are both leaving in about a week. by the time we were leaving i was already completely sick of shopping and wondering why in the hell did i agree to go. but of course this was just the start.
we went to grab some quick lunch and then went to the panjiayuan market. this was like a low budget swap meet that was out in a large covered lot. all the vendors simply had their ware spread out on blankets that hanging on temporary walls they had propped up. (most the vendors didn't even have the walls propped up.) this market was full of junk and we left after about half an hour of wandering around.
after that we went to hongqiao market. this was essentially a huge swap meet in a large building. it was about four stories high and had lots of random things. you could buy watches, binoculars, place mats and chopstick sets, prada bags, flasks, etc. anup and andrew bought a few more gifts here.
then to finish things off we went to the xiushui silk market. this was an outdoor swap meet and there was no real silk to be seen. but there were plenty of cheap diesel and quicksilver t-shirts, nike shoes, columbia pants, north face jackets, etc. all knock offs and relatively cheap.
luckily at this point i received a call from kieth. kieth was a new bar friend i met while hanging out at platform (my local bar.) he told me that we had had a conversation about live music a couple night ago in platform (i didn't remember it) during which he told me about a documentary film about the underground rock scene in beijing. the film was playing at 8pm and i agreed to meet up with him. so i left the crew to their shopping and hopped a subway to get to sanlitan. i met up with kieth, lucy, and another friend of theirs. we headed over to a small bar on south street called hart. the film was plying upstairs. admission was 30 yeun (about $3 USD) and included a beer. we sat down upstairs with about 20 other people and they started the film up.
the film was call "the underground rock scene in beijing." it was very much a student film. from my best guess i'd say it was a little dated as well since in one of the music festival they were documenting in i saw posters with the year 2001 on them.
that said it was an interesting film. the first third of the film documented a suburb of beijing where all the rock bands go to live and rehearse. basically rent is super cheap there and the only people there are farmers and rock band members. there were all types of bands living there from blues bands to heavy metal bands. they practice there and once in a while catch a bus into town to play a show. the shows they documented were interesting in the fact that after playing a thrash metal set and inspiring a large mosh pit in the audience the band would tear down and then sit down at tables in the same bar order food and drinks and hang out all night with their fans before heading back home the next day.
the next interesting part of the film documented a music school that sponsors an annual music festival that is the equivalent of the chinese wood stock. lots of free beer (supplied by the school - go figure), weed, graffiti, and music. it was a pretty interesting picture of juvenile mayhem and partying.
but in the end the film did manage to portray a picture of a very active and energetic local music scene. i really hope to make it to check out some good live music shows before i leave.
after the film we grabbed some dinner and then i decided to head home while kieth and lucy were going to hit up some bars on south street. normally i'd never turn down an opportunity to go to a bar but tonight i just wasn't up for it. unfortunately my stomach was _extremely_ unhappy and i felt the need to be within running distance of a bathroom at any moments notice.