Probably not the last time
Well, of course right after I say I won't write until something interesting happens, something kind of interesting happens. This morning I had coffee with Dad's friend Jim, who gave me a whole bunch of ideas for things to do and see both in Beijing and in other parts of the country (weekend trips and longer if I'm feeling adventurous). Since any trips I do will probably be solo (Tyler's time is limited by his job and Christina sticks around to help her mom out), I'll have to see how I feel about extended travel outside of the city. Hopefully I'll be able to drag one of them along. That's the plan anyways. The major trips that he suggested were the hanging monastaries at Datong (weekend), ChengDu and the Tibetan plateau (probably a week, but likely not limited to travelers the way Tibet is because this part is in Sichuan), and of course the southern things like Shanghai (weekend to a week, depending on how I go and what I choose). If anyone reading this is familiar with any of the above and can make recommendations (or wants to add, but I'm indecisive as it is), feel free. It should be allowing people to comment, I think I fixed the settings.
In any case, he gave me the names of two bookstores that were just a few metro stops away. One was at the stop where I knew Christina and her mom were, so I decided to check it out. Jim gave me fairly detailed directions, which were clear enough that I figured that I could find what I was looking for. What I forgot about was that metro stops on the Beijing subway system have multiple exits, some of which are reasonably far away from each other, and I got out of the wrong exit for the directions he had given me (oops). So I picked a direction and started walking, but since I wasn't sure about my bearings, I asked someone. She told me that it was in the opposite direction (good thing I asked), and I thought she said it would be on my left. Jim had said there were big, shiny buildings, so I figured it had to be hard to miss. So off I went. Several blocks later, I was starting to think I had missed something else, and asked another woman. She told me I needed to take a bus, but after explaining that I wanted to walk, she gave me directions. She said I needed to go back the direction I had come from and turn right. I missed the street that she told me to turn on (Chinese people don't slow down when talking to foreigners, so keeping up is difficult), but it looked like she was pointing me down the last street I had crossed. That was the wrong street. It was also, however, lined with embassies, so if anyone needs to find the Italian, Zimbabwean, French, or something in Arabic that I couldn't read embassies in Beijing, I can get you there. At this point I'm making a circle to go back to the metro stop that I had started at to see if I coud figure out which one I should have started from, and had called Christina and explained the confusion to her. She and her mom were almost done at the appointment they were at and had asked someone how to get there, so I met them at another subway exit (which was the one I should have started from) and we went off from there. Sure enough, Jim's directions were perfect and we found the bookstore with little trouble. I didn't buy anything today, but will go back again soon. After that we stopped by a large market-type-thing (I'm not quite clear on what it was) and browsed. There were a lot of silk products and then other random things. I got a pretty skirt. It's a little see-through, but I really liked it, so I'll look around for something to put under it to fix that problem.
Anyways, I'll be back as soon as I have another story! The sky cleared for a couple of hours, so I was hoping to do Tiananmen or some parks or something this afternoon, but it's overcast again, so we'll see. I'd like to do it when it's nice out.