This morning was a pretty big disappointment when I opened my curtains to reveal one of the worst days for pollution since I arrived in Beijing. I made the decision to hold off on the Forbidden City for one more day and make the journey to the Silk Market, a place described to me as a hub for the weird, wonderful and unnecessary.
The Silk Market was incredible. A sprawling metropolis built over seven floors, it could be mistaken for any modern, Asian shopping mall. On closer inspection however, the shops are all run like market stalls with no rules, regulations or prices. Just about everything under the sun could be bought here, although you have to be prepared to haggle ruthlessly with the shopkeepers. My three hours here saw me offered everything from tea-sets to tazers, furs, Rolex’s, “iPhones” and clothing from every big Western brand imaginable, the authenticity of which was dubious to say the very least.
I emerged with shopping bags full of treasures – I really wish I had more time here although I don’t think my suitcase could’ve handled it.
The program in the afternoon was set for us by Tony An, an investment banker we met on Wednesday as part of the Beijing Hollywood experience. Tony had arranged to collect us from the hotel and take Fran and I to meet some more of his friends involved in the movie business here.
Tony put together a great group to meet with encompassing numerous facets of the burgeoning industry. We heard from actors and directors about the unique challenges the Chinese movie business presents compared to filming elsewhere overseas, as well as hearing about the major film projects they were currently involved with. Tony’s friends seemed completely enamored with me, “the boy from the vampire movies”, as I was encouraged to forgo the remainder of my education and return to Beijing so they could “make me a star”. Amusing to say the least, and I got my boost of confidence for the day!
Following this, we went out to a site-visit of a brand new movie studio being built, the second largest in Beijing. We got a full tour of the facilities, which were impressive and promise to be a world-class facility when they’re completed construction in two months time.
I’ve kept my remarks on Beijing Hollywood brief once again as it will all be part of a fantastic package I’m planning to put together shortly. Keep an eye out for that because it really is quite remarkable what’s being done here.
I’m going to leave it at that for today. Tomorrow is a consolidation day primarily, or so it was supposed to be. I’ve got a lot of preparation to get done for next week in Shanghai and then following on through Seoul and Korea, plus I’d like to get out to the Forbidden City as it’ll be my last chance on this venture to Beijing. We’re being hosted by friends for dinner in the evening. Then it’s up for a 5am departure on Monday morning.