Panjiayuan flea-market and the Laoshe Teahouse
Panjiayuan flea-market in the south-eastern corner of Beijing’s Third Ring Road is the place to go for Chinese bric-a-brac, wannabe-antique furniture, old books, and shockingly good art forgeries.
I honestly couldn’t tell any difference between the fake Chen Wenling pieces and the genuine article (I was lucky enough to catch many of them on exhibition at MUMOK in Vienna last year). If I were Mr Chen, I’d be really happy: there’s surely no better indicator that you’ve made it as an artist!
The market is also a good place to visit just for the atmosphere, and the occasional surprising sight:
In the evening, I visited the Laoshe Teahouse in Beijing. (Exit Qianmen station, go past KFC, and it’s on the left.) For RMB 150/person (about €15), you get an endless supply of tea, a reasonably plentiful assortment of snacks, and an hour and a half of assorted entertainment. It’s all very civilised.
Tonight’s programme consisted of shadow puppets, gymnastics with fire, mimicry (trains, birds, etc.), conjuring, Peking opera, some kind of fast-talking performance which seemed to mostly be a bit of Olympic propagandising, Sichuan mask-changing (sounds weird, but looks really impressive) and kung fu.
It’s a great way to experience a range of things that you probably won’t see otherwise. You need to book in advance, and it helps to have someone to do it in Chinese, but it’s well worth a visit.