Hey lady buy some fruit! (Mutianyu section of Great Wall, Bejing, China, 5/16/09)

I negotiated a big bag full of souvenirs from one shop, but only because they didn’t get in my face. About $35US for a Chairman Mao t-shirt, bag, wall hanging, Mao quotations, postcards. Probably twice as much as I should have paid, but they did try to help me get a bug out of my shirt. And they did start at 900RMB (US$120) so they came down quite a bit in price. Then I saw an old guy (he must be grizzled dice guy’s big brother) selling Chairmain Mao pins. And the chinese are much too proud to be obsequious.
He said how many you want?
Me: Only 2 cards. (Each card has 10 pins on it)
You need 5 cards give to your friends! He says.
Me: No, no. How much for two?
He writes down 550 on his little scrap of paper. (~$80US). But he doesn’t know I’m still primed from round 1 with the first seller.
Wah????? No no no no no. I say.
Him: OK, for 2, 520.
Oh NO, no no I say, with a disgusted look on my face.
Him: How mucha. How mucha.
I write down 20. ($3)
Aiiiiiiiii NO NO NO, he starts yelling at me.
Eyyyyyy, I start yelling back, THIS IS CHEAP PLASTIC STUFF.
450 ($65) he writes down.
I start walking away in disgust.
Him: This is coppah, real coppah (copper). Hey hey hey, how about 300, hey 300, 300.
Aiii YAH, NO NO NO cannot, I yell. He is trailing me as I walk down the path. The shopkeepers are looking on in amusement as we yell at each other.
Him: 250, 250.
NO NO NO, too much, cannot, I yell back. I’m having an argument with someone I’ve never seen before. The price keeps dropping. 200. 100. 80. 50. 30.
By the time I reach my driver I’m up to 22.
24, He says, Give me 2 yuan, he says. Give me 2.
I GAVE you 2!! I say. 22! I say.
OK, OK, give me 22!! He takes my money disgustedly.
All the shopkeepers are smiling. Hey lady – buy some fruit!! they yell.
P.S. there are no right angles on the Great Wall.
P.P.S. A plug for Mutianyu. If you only have time for one trip to the Great Wall, go to Mutianyu instead of Badaling. This is a section of the Great Wall that is off the beaten track and used to be much less crowded than Badaling, where the standard tourist busses go.  Mutianyu is in the middle of the forest, picturesque and peaceful.  However, you’ll most likely have to get a driver to take you there.
There’s a small shopping area at the base – but the only way up to the actual wall is by chairlift – the only way down, by alpine toboggan ride.  There is no other way to get up or down so it is not handicapped accessible nor for those with fear of heights.
And don’t make the mistake of spending too little time.  One hour is only barely enough time to ride the chairlift up, and tobaggan down.  Please plan to spend 3 hours at least to take your photos, soak up the ambiance, and do your shopping.  Forget Badaling! It’s a tourist trap!! Don’t you see how few people are in my pictures?
The easiest way to get to Mutianyu is to ask your hotel for a driver to take you there (again another reason to stay at a higher end hotel with services). Trust me, the cost is worth it. 30-60 minute one-way drive.
Just outside Mutianyu is a Chinese restaurant with a garden and a pond that has the BEST hot and sour soup I have ever had.  Based on the pictures on TripAdvisor, I believe it is Xin_Shuang_QuanSheng_Tai_LvYuan_Restaurant. We had a glorious lunch here in the garden and hope to make it back there again some day. According to TripAdvisor there are several restaurants in the area that are even better. Has anyone tried any of them?
Mutianyu Great Wall

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