In Search of……

When we moved into our apartment we decided that we only wanted it to be partially furnished, we asked the landlord to provide only a bed and a TV.  This was mostly as we would rather have our cat damage our own property rather than anyone else’s, as well as just wanting to really make it our own.  That said we have been doing a lot of shopping in the last few weeks.  And as we are getting a bit older and starting to think it would be good if the things we buy last a bit longer it has not been a one-stop Ikea shop to fill this place, though today we hit the jackpot there!  We have often discounted the rugs at as Ikea as we thought they were too expensive to be from Ikea.  Today we had a long look at them and found a few that we really liked (and all were more affordable than the Muji rug we have been pining after).  We decided to wait on it, but then as we passed though the ‘As Is’ department, we saw the rug we had liked for 60% off, all due to a small sticker and a few creases.  In the spirit of saving money we went for it and are so pleased!  It fits in the budget and leaves a bit extra for our dining table and chairs.

In Tianjin there are two choices for furniture (as far as we know, please comment if you know of other places!): Ikea and Macalline.  Macalline being 5 floors of anything you could ever want when building or furnishing a home.  It can be a bit overwhelming as it is so big (with many of the same pieces repeated again and again), but we were lucky to find a sofa and chair that we really love.   Besides simply trying to find the right furniture we are weighing in the cost.

So we extended our search to Beijing, just looking the internet there was nothing that jumped out, but I kept coming across Gao Bei Dian.  It is quite a way out from the city centre but definitely worth the trip.  The 500m walk from the subway station was less than convincing as all that could be seen were car showrooms and construction sites, we were worried we had wasted a day in the sweltering summer heat, until we stumbled upon our first furniture shop.  Which just happened to have a table we had been looking at online!  We found all sorts of shops: beautiful showrooms with antiques and modern pieces, tiny spaces with tables piled a top each other, and small boutiques with elegant displays.  It seems as though we had found the physcial stores for all the TaoBao shops we have been browsing the last few months. Despite finding what we had originally wanted we are now plagued with having to choose between several fantastic choices, and we are even considering the money saving option of an Ikea table.

Besides simply trying to find the right furniture we are weighing in the cost.  We recognise that unique, quality furniture is going to have a higher price tag, however we are trying to be sensible and not break the bank.  The last two days we have walked over 37,000 steps in search of… hopefully ten days on the beach can help us come to a decision.

 – Mr and Mrs T

From Winky to China: Day 2

Today was our first trip to Beijing; our plan was to visit The Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. We had an enjoyable ride on the bullet train and took the underground to Tiananmen Square. Though we thought we had arrived quite early it was already heaving. To start things off it took us about 10 minutes to walk 15 meters just to get through security into the area. Once through a bit of the walk, we saw queues for tickets and security and people everywhere. It was 10:00 am we were hot and tired already and made an executive decision to rethink our plans. We stopped by a tour agency and booked in for a bus tour this Friday. For 300 RMB ($48/£28) a bus will collect us from our hotel take us to The Forbidden City, Summer Palace and Temple of Heaven and includes an English guide and lunch. After our experience this morning it is well worth the money for a day of sightseeing.

So our amended day began with a stop in our favourite art shop. Our friend was there and we picked up another moon festival painting, Sarah got two paintings for herself and her name written in Chinese characters. From there it was on to the shopping mecca know as YaShow market in Sanlitun. Shopping galore where bargaining rules. It was an afternoon filled with entertainment and good deals. It all began with 2 bags and a wallet, first price 640 RMB, final price 251 RMB ($40/£23)!

On the way out I spotted a little bagel shop with authentic New York bagels so we had a little snack. And finally ate late lunch at one of our favourite places: Great Leap Brewery. With burgers and beers in our tummies we made our way back to the train station and home to Tianjin.

Another fantastic day, my FitBit says we walked over 19,000 steps; thats nearly 13km!

Until tomorrow,

-Mrs T

 

A morning in Beijing’s 798 Art District

One of the greatest things about living in Tianjin is that Beijing is only 30 minutes away by train ($15 return). This means if Mrs. T wants to go shopping we can be there an hour after leaving our front door.

This morning we headed up to the art district as a new pair of shoes was on the agenda! We had a walk round taking in the quirky scenery and artwork located down the various alleys and paths.

We had heard a lot about SOYE and had seen quite a few pairs of their shoes on co-workers. Basically it is a fantastic shop full of handmade leather goods at amazing prices.

After wandering round for a while we decided to go and get a coffee, in what looked like a boutique coffee house. I saw a food bowl behind the counter and a cushion, so we were keeping an eye out for a cat or dog. To my surprise this is what we saw….

We opted against eating here!

So, departed at 7.40am and back by 2pm. A great start to the weekend!

Beijing take 2: The Great Wall

A few weeks ago we took our second trip to Beijing.   Out of Tianjin on the Friday night train, on the town for a bit and up early for a drive out to The Great Wall for a hike.  About ten of us from school joined up with Beijing Hikers for the Jiankou ‘Big West’ Great Wall Hike.  It was our first experience with an organised hike and we really enjoyed it.  We found the entire excursion organised, convenient, good value for money and very interesting.  It was a beautiful autumn day, with blue sky and amazing views.  We were back home in Tianjin by nine in the evening and felt pleased to have really made the most of our weekend!

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Mr & Mrs T

Beijing Take One

For our first school holiday we took a mini trip to Beijing, inspired by The Killers playing in concert there.  We were warned that the National Day holiday is not the best time to travel to hot spots like Beijing as they are even busier than usual.  We ignored the warnings and were amused to find them very true!  Most obvious was our trip to Tiananmen Square, which was a result of going to the Forbidden City and being deterred as it was so busy you couldn’t even move once inside.  We didn’t make it into Tiananmen square either as walking towards it as far as our eyes could see was wall to wall people.  There was some silver lining in that we found a great little art gallery and got some lovely paintings for our apartment.  I guess we will just have to go back to Beijing for some sightseeing. lucky for us it is a quick 40 minutes up on the train.

Mrs T