Warning: lots of pictures today and a long entry! I seperated my entry into two. The first one is just on where things are located on Maliandao, while the second concerns my shopping today.
I figured that since I talk about Maliandao a lot, and since it’s so big, I should provide you all with some sense of the place as a whole, rather than bits and pieces.
So, with that in mind — I will guide you all down the street. With a VERY crude map that I drew of Maliandao. You can all follow along.
This is the map in question — you enter Maliandao from the north (i.e. the top of the map). Remember, this is not to scale, and does not include anything that is not tea related!
As you enter, you’ll see a shabby gate. I usually ask the cabbie to drop me off at the entrance of Maliandao instead of turning in, because the left turn there can take 10 minutes before you actually get to go as very few cars make it through every light change. It’s faster to walk, and today’s weather was pretty nice for walking.
Then, all along the street as you walk down, you will see LOTS of tea stores lined up on both sides, although there are more on the right hand side than on the left. Like this:
They are all generic stores — selling everything from white tea to black tea, with teaware thrown in. Very few have quality goods, and prices tend to be high.
Then, you will hit an intersection
If you turn left, you will see the Beijing Puer Chadu (black on the map)
If you keep walking, however, you will see the Maliandao Tea City on your right (green), in front of the Carrefour
Across the street of this is, oddly enough, a Nike Factory Outlet
This is where I think most people stop. That’s what I did the first few times I came to Maliandao. It looks like there’s nothing more down the street, and Maliandao Tea City offers plenty of stuff for the regular joe. HOWEVER, there’s way more.
If you keep walking a little bit, another 50-100m, you will see this on your left
The Qingxi Tea Market (grey on the map), next to it is the Jingma Tea Market (yellow)
The Beijing Tea Corporation Market (cyan)
And the Jingdinglong Tea Market (Magenta)
I’ve been to all of them, and for the most part, there aren’t much in there that’s impressive. The Qingxi and the Jingma are both open air markets and seem to trade in lower quality stuff, and mostly tieguanyin and green tea and the like. The Beijing Tea Corporation market, aside from a few teapot stores, is mostly crap as well. Jingdinglong is about the same
Across the street from about the Beijing Tea Corporation Market is the Jingmin Tea City (blue)
Where I got the Wuyi tea.
Then, when you are across the street from Jingdinglong, it will look like there’s nothing more down the street
With lots of construction going on
And bricked up storefronts that are about to be demolished while new apartments are going up (tea addicts’ heaven!)
The teashops along the street also stop right around where Jingdinglong is. If my cabbie didn’t go through the south, it might have taken me a lot longer to figure out that there’s something more at the end of the street — Chayuan Tea City
If you look to the right of the gate, you see this neon sign that has “24” on it. Yes, Chayuan is OPEN FOR 24 HOURS!
It’s a very interesting arrangment — the stores at Chayuan all have a staircase that lead to the second floor. I have always thought that the second floor was storage space, with maybe a bed or something for the storekeepers to rest.
They all STAY THERE! This is their home, at least for the low level storekeepers who have to be there all day. Sometimes the owners of the stores are the ones who sleep there, sometimes just the lowly clerks. Either way, most stores have somebody who stays there full time, thus the claim to open for 24 hours. Many of them run their business until 11 or 12, and if there’s no more customer, they close up shop. If you want, however, you can stay till 2 or 3am, with tea to fuel your late night shopping trip, and they will stay up with you.
So that’s that for the geography of Maliandao. If you want to shop there next time, you’ll know where you’re going. Of course, this will probably get outdated in a year or two, since construction is nonstop on the street and new buildings keep propping up. I have a feeling that those open air markets across the street from Jingmin will eventually make way for air conditioned tea malls more like Maliandao Tea City or Jingmin, or just lots of apartment buildings.