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Original Message:   Trip report!
Finally settled in at home, after two months of great travel. The trip went as follows: Hongkong, train to Beijing, train to Shanghai, ferry to Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, ferry back to Shanghai, train back to Beijing, then off to my sister in Australia and back to Beijing, before I headed home.

It was not a trip specifically to a bead place, but I sure did get to see a lot of great and fun beads.

I have taken many many pictures, especially of the markets. I can never get enough of these, but perhaps they are not for all of you..... If you are bored, just skip ;-)

Anyway......here they are:

I think the main event for me was the Panjiayuan market in Beijing. I have shown pictures of it before, and so have others. There are very few genuine antiques to be found there now, but for me it is interesting for two reasons. The first is the sale of beads made from natural materials, like seeds, nuts, stone, amber. Many of these beads are used as prayer beads, and some mostly for good luck. It is absolutely fascinating for me to watch people closely inspecting beads for patterns, symmetry, beauty, etc. I have to say, on this trip I pretty much fell for natural beads too, instead of glass beads. The second reason why the Panjiayuan is so interesting is because of the abundance of fakes or replicas. Obviously, you do not want to accidently buy a fake bead. This market has been a great learning ground for me to see all the fakes around. The way they are made, displayed and artificially aged. When asking dealers about them, the only answer usually is 'Old' or 'Very old'. And with my lack of Chinese, I never really can tell if they believe a bead they are selling is old or not.

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