A Quick Taste of Wangfujing
Our hotel in Beijing was only a few blocks from Wangfujing Dajie. It you are unfamiliar with this street, a section of it is a pedestrian-only shopping mecca. I would guess it could cover about 10-12 city blocks. It was fairly quiet during the day but really got hopping at night. The weekend was especially entertaining as the fashionistas were out with their boyfriends and made for some fantastic people watching.
You could walk most of the street inside of one of the many malls. We cut through these malls often as it was pretty cold in early December and we needed to warm up. These shopping centers were also a great place for Dek to run around without the 2-3 layers I forced him to wear whenever we were wandering around outside. I could do some window shopping (I was on the hunt for the perfect brown boots), Mike could scout out the toys he dreamed of buying and Dek could check out some of the curious sculptures placed throughout. There was a man made of Legos sitting on a bench and a few very large child characters lining one hallway. Dek wasn’t quite sure what he thought of them. They looked like kids, but they were so big. He had to ponder that one for a bit.
Wangfujing was also a great place to grab a quick bite. We would regularly stock up at Bread Talk or another bakery in the basement of one of the centers closest to Dongchang’an Jie (a street). Dek loved their ham and cheese paninis and it was an easy thing to bring with us on day trips throughout the city. We were also able to grab some breakfast items and these amazing chocolate biscuits. I am still kicking myself that I did not bring back 10 packs of those biscuits. They were like tiny square chocolate donuts but layered and more like bread. Everything was so cheap and so delicious, it’s a good thing I was walking so much or I would have gained at least 10 pounds.
There was also a grocery store called Ole in the basement of the shopping center closest to our hotel. We were able to stock up on milk and fresh fruit for Dek, and we would sometimes grab a quick noodle dish for Mike and I if we were too exhausted to go looking for dinner after a long day of sight seeing.
Perpendicular to the north end of Wangfujing, and also off a side street about half way down Wangfujing, there were nightly food markets set up to grab a quick meat kebab, noodles, candied fruit on a stick, scorpion, star fish and snake. We quickly learned that the more exotic offerings were all for our benefit. I never saw a Chinese person walking around with star fish or snake, and the vendors would specifically offer us, in English, the scorpion to try. Most patrons were eating the noodles, lamb sandwiches and beef kebabs.
We became so familiar with Wangfujing that I’m sure some of the store clerks began to recognize us as we cut through Zara, Nike, the toy store and department stores to get warm. The Bread Talk coffee counter barista sure remembered Dek, and the perfume counter ladies did stop offering to spritz me at least. Oh and yes, there were at least 3 Starbucks along Wangfujing, one MacDonalds, although there were signs that they were putting in about 2 more, and even an Outback Steakhouse if you got a craving for a Bloomin’ Onion. We did not.