Thursday, September 01, 2005


Thursday was another great day for us. We began with a trip to the government-run jade factory, Beijing Banner Jadeware City. First we were shown a demonstration of how jade is carved and polished, and taught how to identify the three qualities of jade (A being the highest, B, and C, being the lowest in quality). Who knew the more transparent the better the quality of the jade? Armed with this information we were then herded into the government-run jade store, where we were expected to buy many, many pieces of A-quality jade. For a non-capitalist country, the “sales associates” were most “attentive,” (some may say “pushy”) to the point that we were afraid to linger over a bangle for more than a second, for fear we would be greeted with “Hello!! You like?”

From there it was back onto the bus for a short drive through an agricultural region very similar to Napa Valley; here, farmers grow the largest, sweetest peaches in all of China, plus apples and cherries. Too bad our weird bacteria-sensitive Western stomachs have been cautioned not to eat any of the fruits, because the produced displayed at the little stands along the roads certainly looked inviting.

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