Dear friends, On the fourth or fifth day I was in China, I visited the silk market. I've never seen anything like it! Imagine all those street vendors selling clothes, jade, hewelry, accessories, and art you see in New York City and Taiwan. Put hundreds of them inside a building and that will give you a rough idea of Beijing's silk market. There are rows and rows of vendors calling out to you...
Vendor (who mostly talks to my friend, who is white, disinterested, and does not speak any Chinese): "Lady, lady. Buy some clothes? Pretty shirt. Come see. Try on. Come look. You name price." I stop to actually look at a shirt that I like. Vendor: You speak Chinese? Yes? Good. (proceeds to speak in Mandarin) Shirt is good quality. This shirt is RMB$380. Real silk! Me: That's way too expensive. How about I give you RMB$50.
(Yeah, I cut the price a 100 fold...Vendors really like to rip you off)
Vendor: WAH?! You think I can make money off of that? No way. Me: Okay. (I start to walk away) Vendor: Ok, ok, lady. I give you $100, best bargain. Me: That's really too expensive. $50 is my highest offer. Vendor: Ok, ok. I give you $80. I really start to walk away, although I really like the shirt... Vendor: FINE! I give you $50. (Vendor stuffs the silk shirt into a bag, obviously exasperated and tired of my stubbornness).
That was probably the best bargaining experience I had, though. I may have still been ripped off, but at least I got the best bargain a foreigner could receive.
Bargaining takes a lot of energy and time. If you're ready to argue and spend 10-15 minutes talking about the price, the silk market is for you! I had a lot of fun. I didn't take any pictures, though, because that would make me look even more like a tourist.