It’s Saturday morning, December 31, New Year’s Eve, and I have worn out the rest of the group. Sarah is tired and the pollution is aggravating her respiratory tract. She is not up to going out today and LaDawna doesn’t mind staying home either. Sam and I decide that instead of going to see things that everyone else would like to see but can’t we will go back to the Pearl Market and investigate the guitars that the music store said they had in their shop.
We head out and decide that we are going to walk in that direction and see what is around us going to the west. We are not too far down the street before we realize that the there isn’t much to see this direction. We catch a cab and give him directions to the Pearl Market. The taxi ride is just $20RMB.
Sam had really wanted to see the 7-string guitar and 5-string bass guitars. He believes that this is what he wants to use for his music and would love to find one over here that works for him. We stop at the shop and the gal in charge is out to lunch and won’t be back for about an hour. We decide that we will wander around the pearl section again. I have to get another string of pearls for our driver’s wife’s birthday that is coming up. We really hadn’t done a lot of looking when we were here last time and I decide that I want to be able to tell the difference between a good set of pearls and not a good set.
We go to the 4th floor and stop in one of the more expensive shops to see if they will try to teach me (I am looking for pearls but they don’t need to know that there is really no way I am buying any of the super expensive strings yet). We get an aggressive salesperson that speaks English that comes out of one of the shops to talk with us. I tell her that I am interested in pearls but that I don’t know how to tell good ones from bad ones. She says she will teach us. Yeah!
I think that everyone in American tell you that diamonds are about the Cs, cut, clarity, carat because we have heard it so many times on the commercials for diamonds. I don’t think that I can remember ever seeing anything on pearls. I am going to learn something today. I am told that pearls are luster, shape, size. The more nearly round that a pearl is the better, the size is obvious to me, and the luster is what I don’t know anything about. The luster of a pearl is related what might be considered depth or reflection. We are shown some that are very nice. The luster is kind of pinkish, black is the best. I note that the size of these pearls are about 8mm and the fluster is almost exactly the same is each pearl. I ask to see the difference between a freshwater pearl and seawater pearl. The freshwater pearls are nearly white while the seawater pearls are more like a cream color. The seawater pearl will never be much larger than about 8mm while the freshwater pearl may be as large as 11-12mm. I now know enough about pearls to go back down stairs and talk with the vendor that we purchased pearls from earlier in the week. She remembers us and the price we negotiated and lets me buy a couple more strings for the price we did earlier.
It is now time to go back and look at guitars. The owner is back from lunch and she leaves her shop to the hired help and we head out to her other location. She has a shop that is outside of the Pearl Market on one of the side streets. We wander through the Pearl Market to a back entrance and out into an alley, there is another store that we walk through that has some really nice vases and other fine ceramics and polished stones. We see the huge carved tree trunks that are the artistic tea tables that we see in so many of the little tea shops. We are finally out on the back street and we go into an apartment building. I am beginning to wonder where we are actually going. We finally get to the floor and the shop keeper lets us into the room. It is a nice little room with looks like it is set up for tea and crackers. We sit down and she starts a pot of water boiling. We tell her that we don’t drink tea and that hot water will be fine. The room is lined with guitars, probably about 20 in this room. Sam looks at a couple and asks to play one. He quickly realizes that none of the guitars are tuned. I can tell that he is no longer as impressed with the shop keeper as he was before. I guess that he doesn’t appreciate someone not taking care of the guitars that they have. I guess it is a tough sell to sell a guitar that is not tuned.
We finally convince her that we are ready to see the guitars that she promised. We know that most of what she will have are going to be fakes but we want to see what is there. They also make their own guitars and that has Sam’s interest peaked again. He can actually have them custom a guitar for him and he can make it look like he wants it to. We decide that what they have isn’t going to work but he will send them an email with a design to see what it would cost.
We walk back over to the Pearl Market and decide that we are going to see everything else that is in the market. We are looking for trinkets and other items to take home. One of the things that I have really wanted for my library is an original “little red book”. We have found these in other locations when we have been shopping but they want $250-300 RMB and I am not willing to pay that much for something I can’t even read. We find a place that has a number of red books and some old medals in one shop. I am able to get the medals for about $10 RMB and the book for $125. I am happy and think that we got is unique and will be fun for Halloween next time.
We finally have seen everything, we are ready to go back to the hotel and get something to eat. We have wandered around the market and have seen everything and have gotten some unique items. We wander out to the side walk and find a couple of illegal taxis and begin the negotiation process. Since I know we can get there normally for about $20 RMB I am able to negotiate a better price than we have in the past. We get a ride and are at the hotel before we know it.
We go and get KFC again and spend the rest of the night just hanging out in the apartment. I sit and watch TV waiting for midnight. It finally arrives and we stumble to the bed. We travel tomorrow and the driver (we hired the same driver that took us to the wall) will be here at 9:00am to take Sarah and Makaela to catch their flight. I drift off to sleep as the fireworks are exploding in the streets around us.