February 18th, 2010 – by: spocklogic
So, it was my last day in Beijing. My friend Gang and his family wanted to set me up to meet another woman, but after the Pearl Girl experience, I was not enthusiastic about it. I explained to my friend that I only had one day left in Beijing and couldn't say when I would come back again. So I didn't see making a meeting. I was happy enough to have a day with Lily. We had become good friends, nothing more, and I was happy with that. I suspected Lily was not exactly and honest person, but she had not tried to directly deceive me, so I was not bothered by it. All people have some methods of personality and being. It's not my place to judge anyone and people have their own reasons to survive.
I had allowed Lily to pay the tickets for the shows (or rather she payed when I wasn't looking). I reimbersed her, of course, but suspected she might be skimming profits with her tour guide discount. This was confirmed when we to the Hutong near Hou Hai. Near the ticket office is a small sculpture art place (clearly for tourists). We walked some length inside. She excused herself to go pee. I followed her discretely and saw her enter the ticket office. I peeked in and it seemed more than casual exchange. I retreated back to the tourist art. When she came back, I questioned her and she got defensive. Extra proof for me. Nevertheless I dropped it. I really didn't care how she made a living. I would have paid normal price for everything anyway, why should I care if she skimmed profits.
Straight view (in the direction of Forbidden City)
Tough way to make ends meet and I actually felt sorry for her - a bit of pity. I wasn't going to let it spoil my last day in Beijing.
We had some time waiting for a Hutong ride & tour (or perhaps it was arranged this way), so we went to the Drum tower and it was near the time for the ceremony. Wow! That was something special too to be there to see that. It was not particualarly crowded and an opportunity to see something really wonderful with the striking of the Drums in a ceremony. These are not your ordinary Drums - They are Mega Drums. The sound there is incredible, perfectly attuned to the human ear for resonance such that you don't so much hear it as feel it. A funny occurence happened in the Drum Tower. Well, Lily told me the story of the Tourist who was thrown to his death by a crazy man during the Olympic Games, and such was the reason for the fence on the outside deck.
She also saw somebody she knew there and a man recognized her as a tour guide. How about that! I had no doubt really, as she was quite knowledgeable as a tour guide. Maybe she had fallen on hard times, I thought. We took the tour of the Hutong on a rickshaw and that is fun for a while, but gets boring after a bit. Fortunately, Lily had places for us to stop. A doorway with significance, a home and courtyard with a man who kept exotic birds. This is something I would not normally have seen. My faith in Lily as a person with good intentions was growing. When the Hutong ride was finished I asked the driver to take a photo of us. I gave her a hug in the picture. It was not a romantic gesture, but one of compassion and friendship. We walked about Hou Hai and talked, had tea and enjoyed the day.
We went for a foot massage afterwards. I had never had one myself. It is something I can recomment too. There are nice rooms with comfy chairs and TV's. Although I didn't inquire, Lily had a man masseuse and I had a woman masseuse. I assumed it was normal, unless specifically asked for. This was revealing for me too. Her feet were not in the best of shape, and probably indicative of walking the street a good deal. I asked about my feet, Lily translated, and my masseuse smiled with a reply. Lily didn't answer, so I said, what did she say? Your feet are very healthy, she replied, then paused a bit and added, mine are not. It was fun. We had a nice roast duck dinner to end the day (of which I wrote a review about) and I was feeling happy. We said goodbye, she asked for a tip, I suspect in jest or perhaps she could have been serious, and will never really know. I told her "Try to live a good life". She went her way and I went my way. I never did hear from her again.