pictures. Once we're home I'll try and upload and add some from mom's camera.
First, a little bit about Ann. Since we had only corresponded by email, I didn't know what to expect. She's great. She's tiny - under 5 feet tall for sure, but full of personality. Very sweet, but not afraid to tell you what she thinks. She has some great facial expressions too. Also, she's speedy. She outpaced all of us for sure. Granted, we were carting a two year old and a four year old with us.
We started by walking about 10 minutes to the jade market. We had been out exploring the area around our hotel, but she took us down paths and in buildings that we hadn't even noticed. We got some beautiful jade pendants and chains. We then went on to the pearl market where she helped us choose some lovely strands of pearls and pearl earrings. Part of her service is that she does all of the cost negotiation for you. I really appreciated this since bargaining is part of the culture here and I am not a skilled bargainer at all. Plus, I know nothing about what to look for in these things and what a good price is. She was great about helping with this too. (I guess she could have been telling us anything, but for the prices we paid even if it's costume jewelry I don't care!) We then went to the antique market and got some more jade and some wooden gifts. This area was remarkable. It was alleyway after alleyway, almost like a maze, but she knew exactly where to go and which vendors to use. Here, I told her that I would like a jade bangle bracelet. We went to her normal vendor who picked out his largest bangle for my wrist. They slipped a plastic bag over my hand and tried to force the bracelet over my wrist. It wouldn't budge. I'm not a big girl. I wear size small gloves at the hospital. But, I've never felt like such a giant. We then had to go to a second vendor who finally found one that would fit. But, this was only after taking me to a back alley and soaping up my hand, my wrist, and the bangle to get it on. (You should have seen me trying to get it off that night!) The kids were pooped after this so Jason took them and the packages back to the hotel and mom and I went to the clothing market to get some beautiful traditional Chinese outfits. The clothing "store" we went to was no bigger than a closet, but packed full of thousands of outfits. It was so hot and there was no air movement. But, after about an hour of digging through stacks of clothes we got all the outfits we wanted. We were then too hot and tired to continue so we returned to the hotel to relieve Jason. We had dinner, played in the room, and got another great night's rest.