Sunday, July 27, 2008

Jul 26 - Part Two

At 2:30 or so, flushed with duck, we headed out into the subway to go to the Big Bell Museum(Dazhong Shi), in NW Beijing. From the Hepingmen station we took the 2 line clockwise six stops to Xizhimen, where we transfered to the 13 line (walking perhaps 400 meters through a winding set of steps. One stop later, we got off at Dazhong Shi, at the Third Ring Road, to walk the 10 min to the museum. On the crowded subways, everyone but us seemed to be 15-25 years old and chivalry was mostly dead.

The TSA had not replaced one of the locks on our bags, so we were looking to buy a small TSA-approved luggage lock. There was a large furnishing market, and they said they had locks on the third floor, but those were for doors. Finally got to the museum at 3:30 pm, really tired and very thirsty. We found out it was supposed to close at 4:30, so we plowed ahead. At least they gave us the senior rate of 4 instead of 10 RMB.

This museum used to be a Taoist/Buddhist Monastery,and has many historic buildings. The museum is filled with big bells from all over China and the world. Each has external designs and most are topped with double headed dragons from which the bells hung. The Chinese have been casting big bells since before 400 BCE. The featured bell is the Yongle Bell from 1420. It is several stories high and has its own building. It has 250,000 tiny relief texts on the outside. Amazing.

We stumbled out at closing time, as the staff chased us. We got two bottles of water, took the bus, subway (with two transfers) to Xidan, a huge shopping street, looking for the elusive luggage lock. We wandered into many department stores, and saw every kind of snack food (candy, dried fruits and nuts, etc.), shirts, pants, and bags galore, (and a store called Locks & Locks, that features plastic kitchen ware that snaps shut), but no locks & no lucks. As we left,we passed two adjacent stores, Bread Party and Toast Box. The latter was a chi-chi eatery featuring square Texas toast lovingly sauteed and topped with pork fizz, etc. (Don't ask.)

Took a 102 bus back to the hotel, arriving at 6:15 pm. Got there in time to find out that the tour beginning dinner was to begin at 6:30 pm downstairs. Carol quickly showered, and we arrived 10 minutes late. We got to meet our tour guide, and all but two of the others (who were up in their room, not having gotten the word.) We got our blue Solar Eclipse shirts, had a banquet dinner, and Carol got to bed by 8:30 pm. Mike didn't get to bed until 9 pm, because someone suggested that the local supermarket might have locks. Of course not, but it was worth a try.

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