Beijing Travel diaries

The pearl gallery and the silk factory

Disclaimer: From the beginning of the tour, our tour guide let us know how China works. China was formerly a communist country, but although they are in the process of opening their doors to all things foreign, the state still controls most of everything. For instance, every travel agency in China is owned by the government. The travel agencies in Malaysia, in order to provide tours to China, have to cooperate with these Chinese-government owned agencies and adhere to the travel plans set by the Chinese government. That said, most of the places we were brought to during our five-day trip consisted mostly shopping bazaars, galleries or factories with pushy salespeople- all designed to burn a hole in your pocket and boost China’s GDP.

The first shopping place we were brought to was the Pearl Gallery, minutes away from the summer palace. Government-owned. We were told not to trust any private sellers because they are mostly scams. The government guarantees its products, we were even given a guarantee card upon entering the gallery.

We were greeted by a Chinese lady who speaks Indonesian fluently. She explained to us the benefits of pearls and opened up an oyster from the Kunming Lake in front of us.

She told us to keep some of the pearls for ourselves. Young pearls. Cheaper with a less desirable shape.

Then came the main or ACTUAL agenda (HAH you cannot trick me, CHINA!)- introduction to the pearl creams! Said to brighten the skin, heal acne and scars, reduce wrinkles and spots and whatever imaginary benefits you’d like to add (Chinese beauty products and their benefits could go on and on)- China’s SK-I, unbeatable by Japan’s SK-II. They pushed the older ladies to buy. They bought. The cream made of pearl and gold (seriously) stinks and smell like chili, but I was told that it’s actually really good.

With Malaysia’s tour leader, Zetty, while the moms shopped for creams.
Strings of pearls for sale.
The next stop- the silk factory. Government-owned, too. We were introduced to the various attires the emperors once wore and how China silk was produced and processed.
Then the salespeople all gathered around us and separated, following each couple and introducing them to different grades of silk quilt covers and finally, silk fabric for baju raya. The ladies went crazy over that. You should see the enthusiasm in the faces of the salespeople.
Outside of the silk factory, we encountered nut and fruit hawkers.
After that, to a halal restaurant. Lunchtime!
People liked to deal with the Arabian-Chinese guy (seen wearing a tuxedo) who was selling nuts because he was “handsome”. The guy was seen outside the factory previously- but before we even reached the restaurant, he was already waiting for us in front of the restaurant’s doors. Obviously he’d understood the schedule of the travel agencies!

After everyone shopped for nuts enough, we walked back to our tour bus.
And… we’re off to the Forbidden City!

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  • Avatar
    May 28, 2010 at 5:59 PM

    didn’t bought anything when bring is to the Pearl Factory and the Silk Factory even they said it the best

  • Avatar
    May 29, 2010 at 3:30 PM

    Hehe I’m sure all the shopping is usually done by the ladies!

  • Avatar
    May 30, 2010 at 11:19 AM

    china…i should go there one day

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