Some of my clients have been to Beijing several times and so want to go somewhere different, away from the must-see sights full of tour groups. I wrote about Badachu (8 Great Temples) last August and shopping at my local market last July. Well, this time I want to tell you about a huge market, the so-called fabric market. There, you can fit yourself out with a complete new wardrobe, tailor-made if you want, choose soft furnishings for your whole house, and lots more!
Of course if you are a Harrods, John Lewis, Macy's or Nordstrom customer (or perhaps in these days of recession a Wal-Mart customer), you won't want to go near this market. Silk Alley, Friendship Store, Yashow or any of Beijing's new shopping malls will be enough of a downgrade for you. Similarly if you are on a 10-day-see-all-of-China tour then you won't have time to go off the beaten track for some adventure. Not only is the market a 40 min drive to the edge of town, it's also laid out in a random way.
However, if like my friend, you want to explore places where the locals go and get an unbeatable opportunity to pick up a bargain, then this is the place for you. The service can be a bit, well, minimalist, but I can help you deal with that. And although everything is very cheap, I can help to negotiate the price down even further for you.
You can be creative, mix and match, choose your material and accessories and then take them to a tailor to make something to your own design....or make a copy of your favourite Armani shirt or whatever. Just let your imagination go! How about new curtains, or sofa covers or duvet cover? How about making a new suit or shirt? Silk underwear? Leather trousers? A new party frock?
I couldn't resist getting something. I picked out a cotton print with a colourful flowery pattern, just like a Paul Smith design, and will take it to my favourite tailor, the one who made the winter coat I showed you in January's blog, to make into a new shirt for the Spring. I'll show it to you - and the market - next time you come!