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Beijing pictures, Character Bar

Located in Xintiandi clothes market, Character Bar is a shop where you can make your trinkets, like cups, T-shirts, pillows, crystal adornments, and mobile phone decorations. All of them are then adorned with your favorite pictures.

The shop owner told me service is prompt. It usually takes her one day to finish a custom item. And the price is reasonable as well. A small crystal adornments with your pictures embedded within would cost RMB 60. While a large one cost RMB 240. Most other souvenir items can be had for RMB 30 to RMB 60.

It isn't all about photos. The owner can help you realize any original ideas you share with her on any item available. You could even shape you own figure.

You can bargain with the owner, but she can't speak much English. So be sure to bring pen and paper.

What I Appreciate:
Happy custom designing items

What Customer Appreciate:
Custom designs, embedded photos, good price

Beijing pictures, Muji

Muji is a Japanese retail company which sells a wide variety of household goods. Its earth-friendliness and no-logo policy make it popular among the youth. In fact, a friend of mine in Xiamen even flied to Shanghai to buy some Muji skin care products.

The company opened its first shop in Beijing this year, located inside Joy City Plaza of the famous Xidan area. Inside I found goods ranging from pens, notebooks, apparel, and even appliances.

A trademark of the company is inventive uses for materials that might otherwise have been discarded or ignored. This result in products made from recycled materials and sold at low prices. For example, a 10-pack envelop made with recycled paper cost only RMB 10 to 20.

Shop assistant could not speak English. However, the price tags are clear, and you can't bargain.

What I Appreciate:
Earth-friendliness products

What Customer Appreciate:
No expensive packaging, earth-friendliness products

Beijing pictures, Yunbai Shoe Market

Yunbai shoe market sells a large selection of high quality shoes at reasonable price. Unlike some discount shoe markets, you don¡¯t have to worry about quality. They guarantee exchanges within four months, discount items not included, and lifetime maintenance.

As I looked around, I saw foreign brands like Pipe Eider, Jordan, and Playboy, as well as domestic brand like camel and Sudragon on sale.

The market has three floors. Most discounted shoes or on promotion are on first floor. It usually cost you RMB 50 to RMB 100 to buy regular sports shoes. Leather women and men's shoes displayed to the sides are relatively cheaper, ranging from RMB 100 to RMB 150.

Classic leather shoes sells on the second floor. Price hovers from RMB 200 to RMB 400 for men's shoes and RMB 200 to RMB 300 for women's.

The third floor features sports shoes. A pair of cloth-cover and rubber-sole sport shoes can be as low as RMB 80, but you could also see Camels sold at RMB 400.

Shop assistants cannot speak English. But there¡¯s no need to bargain. All prices are final.

What I appreciate:
A large selection of shoes

What customer appreciate:
A large selection of shoes, reasonable price

Beijing pictures, Becon Tower Pensil Vase

While most pottery shops tend to sell ornamental vases, the ECI Art Gallery offers beautiful pottery which is practical and makes your home more beautiful.


The shop is not far from the Forbidden City. It offers a selection of pottery pencil & flower vases and ashtrays. The strangely wonderful designs of their products really drew me in.

There I saw a Great Wall shaped pencil vase, with the famous Chairman Mao saying: He who has never been to the Great Wall is not a true man. The design is great yet practical. And it only costs RMB 80.

I personally like the stone-shape vase, carved by an old Chinese slangs, which roughly translates to ¡®Be sure to remain ignorant when the situation calls for it¡¯. So I bought the vase for RMB 90 with a 10% off.


Also there are a selection of yak-bone rings, turquoise-studded bracelets, and colorful clothing from Tibet and Nepal. Prices vary, from RMB 30 for a string of rosary to several hundred RMBs for a Nepalese Saari.


The manager is Mr. Kang, who speaks a little English



What I appreciate

Peculiar vases, welcoming atmosphere


What customers appreciate

Peculiar vases and Nepalese clothing

Beijing pictures, Bronze and copper wares

In China, bronze ware has been in use for over four millenniums. Chinese bronze ware is highly valued for its consummate workmanship and primitive beauty. On my visit at Baigong Handicraft Museum, a bronze and copper ware shop drew my attention.


As I entered the shop, an old artisan was working on a piece of bronze using a magnifying glass. Several beautiful metal ornaments were displayed on shelves. The darker ones were made of bronze, while the others were made from copper. A pair of bronze unicorns with fine, clear markings looked especially stately and exquisite.


I tried to break the ice with the artisan, and he raised his head and turned to me. We talked about various things. He told me that each unicorn cost 400 yuan. And that his key goods were copper incense burners made by his own hands. I tried to lift a square-shaped one. To my surprise, it felt rather heavy. The artisan told me that the copper had passed through the purifying process five times. It cost 4000 yuan.


What I appreciated

Hand-made bronze and copper ware, outstanding workmanship.


What customers appreciate

Exquisite bronze and copper ware, excellent workmanship.

Beijing pictures, Jadeite necklace pendants

Although not well known in the west, Jade is a very popular jewelry among Chinese people, especially women. Jade is known for its graceful color and elaborately carved patterns, as well as mythical powers in chasing away bad luck.


At Baigong Handicraft Museum, I found a shop specializing in jadeite ware. The shop assistant guaranteed that all of their jewelry are made of top grade jadeite, which are the best. Raw jade is imported from Burma, and they are then carved by master craftsmen in Guangzhou.


For ladies, the shop offers bracelets and necklace pendants with Buddha and Ping An Kou (literally means button of protection). A bracelet usually costs several thousand yuan. For men, they have pendants such as Guanyin (the Goddess of Mercy) and Pi Xiu (legendary animal which eats and retains wealth). A yellow-colored Pi Xiu cost about 600 yuan.


Also on display was a big, crude, black-colored jadeite stone. The shop assistant turned on a small flashlight against the stone, so I could see beautiful, charming green light shining into it. It was amazing to see graceful jadeite ware made from this kind of stone.


What I appreciated

Top grade jadeite jewelry


What customers appreciate

Top-quality jadeite articles, intricate workmanship


Lacquer Thread Sculpture is an ancient art. In ancient times, the lacquer threads created patterns on deity figures. Today, it is more popular for decorating bowls, vases, and various table settings.


The FuSan Lacquer Thread Sculpture shop, located on FuXingMenNei Street offers a large selection of products from the best place for Lacquer Thread Sculptures, city of Xia Men. The dominant theme here is the imperial dragon, though you will also find other designs like flowers and birds.


I saw a red porcelain vase decorated with two gold-plated dragons. The vase featured a silhouette of a plump lady, and the dragons were made with lacquer threads. In ancient times, vases like this one would only be seen in the palace in old days. But today, you can get it for RMB 3000.


There¡¯s also a celadon jar modeled finely decorated with a dragon and a phoenix, symbols of the emperor and the empress. A slight crack by the handle gives the jar an antique feel. The jar cost RMB 4500.


I also found other interesting wares. There¡¯s a celadon dish decorated with Peking opera masks, white porcelain jar with auspicious animal sculptures, and a replica of the famous Nine-Dragon Wall in the Forbidden City.


The manager speaks a little English. Communication shouldn¡¯t be a problem.



What I appreciate

Beautiful lacquer-thread vases


What customers appreciate

Beautiful products, quality service


Folk handicrafts are an essential element of the Chinese culture, and attract foreign and domestic visitors alike. One shop that has a large variety of folk handcrafts is the Folk Craft Gift near the Forbidden City.


On the shop¡¯s shelves hold a large array of gift items: bamboo books, opera masks, bronze vessels, wood sculptures, earthen wares, etc. The prices are all fairly low.


The main features of the shop are the bamboo books, commonly used in China before the invention of paper. Books vary in thermes. One had a poem of the famous Li Bai as he showered praises for China¡¯s mother river, the Yellow River. Another set of four pieces of bamboo paintings depicts ¡®the four beauties of ancient China¡¯. Each of them sells around RMB 100.


One small bronze mask with bulgy eyes caught me in curiosity. The owner told me that original mask, excavated two hundred years ago, sparked a debate on the origin of Chinese culture. This perfect replica is priced at RMB 200.


The owner, Mr. Zhou, can speak a little English for communication. As he has studied in Japan, he can communicate fully in Japanese too.


What I appreciate

Beautiful products, good service


What customers appreciate

Beautiful products, low prices

Beijing pictures, Real Old Drum

Located in the Drum Tower area, Guang Ming Ge offers a variety of Old Beijing souvenirs and baubles.


Entering the shop, I was first attracted by ¡®Tau-Er-Yea¡¯, or ¡®Sir Rabbit¡¯. This colorfully dressed, cat-mounted rabbit with a human body is known by all Beijingers. Legend tells of this fairy rabbit that lived on the moon. It came to Beijing to rescue people from a plague striking the city. The rabbit rode a cat so it could move around faster to help more people. Even today, Beijingers offer fruits and cakes to Sir Rabbit during Mid-Autumn Festival to honor its good deed. Each ¡®Tau-Er-Yea¡¯ sells for RMB 30.


The shop also carries a range of hutong photos, Great Wall clay, etc. Be sure to at least check out the hutong photos, which depict the typical Beijing traditional residence - Siheyuan.  Each framed photo cost RMB 100.


Also, there are beautiful items such as white porcelain figurines, straw-weaved animals, opera mask pendants, and Chinese zodiac amulets. Mr. Guo, the owner, speaks a little English. Communication shouldn¡¯t be a problem.



What I appreciate

Good service


What customers appreciate

Beautiful items


Beijing carved lacquer, or Diao Qi in Chinese, originated in the Tang Dynasty over 1,400 years ago. It used to be made only for the royal family. But today, carved lacquer has become a Chinese folk handicraft available to everyone.


A carved lacquer ware coats a copper or wooden lining with up to hundreds of layers of lacquer. Then intricate patterns are engraved on its dried and hard surface. It usually takes three months to two years to finish. Most carved lacquer pieces features a red-on-black design.


Recently, I revisited a carved lacquer shop on Zhushikou East Street. Its name has changed to Xiang Hong Lacquer Ware. The shop keeper, Mr. Zhu, greeted me warmly.


I then proceeded to look at the carved lacquers around the shop, all made at his factory in Gu An County, Hebei Province. They offer both handmade and machine-made products. The former is much higher priced. All of them are sturdy, elegant, and forever keep their vermilion color.


Looking around, I noticed that each small pendant of the 12 Chinese zodiac animals cost only 5 yuan. Prices for bracelets range from RMB 20 to RMB 150, necklaces from RMB 20 to RMB 200, and vases from RMB 100 to RMB 3000. Carved lacquer plates are ideal for decoration, present, or souvenir.


What I appreciated

Folk handicraft, ideal for present or souvenir


What customers appreciate

Traditional Chinese artwork, exquisite workmanship

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Beijing Shopping: Located in Xintiandi clothes market, Character Bar is a shop where you can make your trinkets, like cups, T-shirts, pillows, crystal adornments, and mobile phone decorations. All of them are then ador...