The hat from Houtong

The next day I decided to go shopping, we had agreed that seeing that it was wet and misty going on a tour to the wall was not really a very good idea. I took the metro into the centre of Beijing having to change to another line. The ticket machines at our local station were not working and I had to buy a ticket at the counter. I had been afraid I would need to say where I wanted to get out as it is necessary to put that into the machine. However I just passed over my 2 yuan and was given a ticket. As in Shanghai the tickets are plastic cards the same size at a credit card and at the start of a journey the barrier is opened by placing it on the sensor. At the end it goes into a slot and is presumably recycled.

As I was walking along from the metro station to the road Wangfujingdajie which I expected to be a narrow road with lots of market-like stands, a young woman started to speak to me. She asked where I was going and when I told her, she said, oh, we are just there, and here was a large wide pedestrian shopping street. The young woman said that she was an artist and had an exhibition in the big book shop and invited me to come but I turned it down! Who knows what I might have been persuaded into.  Anyway I felt a bit disappointed in my choice of shopping street but set off along it only to find quite soon that the kind of street I had expected led off to the left.

There I found the market and quite quickly spotted a hat. I decided only to buy it at the end of my tour as it would be easier. Anyway I wandered through and bought a dragon for the Christmas tree, but did not find a jade bracelet that fitted and did not really see anything else I wanted to buy. I watched someone carving characters on the end of a stone stamp – similar to ones we bought or were given on our last trip.

5-5 stone carver


While walking around, I also saw a few bronze sculptures in the street.

I had a spring roll and a corn on the cob to eat for lunch with water I had taken to drink. Finally I bought my hat and then took the metro back to the hotel.

Ed – unfortunately I can’t find a picture of the hat in the collections of photos I was given along with the journal.

This post is an extract of my mother’s travel journal written during a tour of China in 2013.

For daily pictures you can follow me on tumblr. at, like the Travel-Tales page on Facebook at  and follow me on Twitter @tash_higman.


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