27 August, 2006

My Saturday & Sunday in Beijing

After I left SPR yesterday afternoon, I took a walk down to Mexican Wave, a reasturant (Mexican, obviously), just down the road from SPR. I'm told it was one of the first "foreign" reasturants around this area. I didn't feel like eating there, so took a quick look at the menu and decided on a pizza (yes, pizza in a mexican reasturant). The 35 minutes it took to get the thing felt like 2 hours. I was getting pretty impatient, but stuck it out. It was good.

Post pizza, I decided maybe I was a little tired from the night before...so, it was time for a nap, just a couple hours. Woke up and not sure what I did, likely just sat around for a while.

Ray called, suggested meeting up for some dinner. Steak & Eggs was the suggestion. I hadn't been there yet, but had heard about it a lot. It's a quick 15 minute walk from my apartment. The guy who opened it is an American, it's been there for a few years I guess. Huge menu, tons of western dishes. I opted for the patty melt. It was good.

Jimmy called, it was seeming to turn into another evening out. Headed back to the apartment and got a call from my parents. They just converted over to Vonage, connection was good. Was glad to hear from them.

So, we were headed to "Face," a new bar/reasturant near the Worker's Stadium. It's an old converted school, tucked away down a wide ally. Awesome atmosphere. The outdoor patio has tons of tables/chairs, dim lighting and a stream running through it. Indside, pool tables, more tables & chairs, bars. There's also an Indian and Thai reasturant inside (upstairs). After a pitcher of beer, the guys decided to make it a wine night. I'm not that into wine, but I like it...so, OK.

Jimmy invited a girl who works for him, Katie (Chinese) and her friend Marina (also Chinese) out to join us. When they showed up, we decided to out to the next location. Bar Blu was the choice...I've been there a few times before, not that into it. It's always hot as hell in there, and kind of dirty.

They've got a large dance floor in there, it was packed. It was funny to see how into rap music some chinese girls are. They sing along to the music and their moves are unique...it's like they sit around and watch american MTV (because they do have Chinese MTV) and try to immitate the moves.

On top of the music immitations, some of these girls love to swear. Of course, they've learned it over the years from all the americans they've talked to. It's just funny to hear, "do you ever shut the f up?" ... out of a tiny, 80lb chinese girl's mouth, saying it to Ray, a 6 foot+ 200lb american.

Red wine was the drink of choice here. We sat around, played some dice game (forgot the name), many ganbei's (cheers/bottoms up) later, 3 bottles were gone and it was time to go.

The suggestion was to head back to Jimmy's or, "the clubhouse." He's got a place in Chaoyang...35th floor, about 6000 sqt, amazing place. After a bunch of debating and listening to Katie practice her english swear words at Ray, we decided to all part ways and go home...


Up around 10 today, over for my weekend coffee at SPR, browsed on CNN.com to see what's going on in the world. I met up with Ray, we headed over to bai now wei to get some gadgets. Bai now wei is basically a 6 story technology store... everything you need, from Lenovo PCs
to Linksys routers, to knock off ipods. I needed to get a new wireless router, since I fried the one from the States. I also found a power adapter that I'm praying will work, I think it will. Ray needed a USB HDD... his research assistant got a nasty virus on his PC, so he's going to try to salvage what he can and reformat.

After the geek shopping, it was off for some lunch. Ray suggested Russian...sure, I'm game. About a 10 minute taxi ride away, we get out in what I'll call "Little Russia" ... I don't think that's what they call it here, but it's what it is. Great food. I had some Russian goulash. Basically was potatos, ham, mushrooms, eggs, cottage cheese & bacon, all baked together, topped off with some melted cheese. Good stuff, I'll be going back there again (if I can find it).

Time to try to setup the network. I was anxious to try out the power converter...so, I pulled it out of the box, plugged it in. I listened to it hum a little bit, thinking maybe it was normal. I plugged the vonage power adapter in... BOOM. Sparks fly out, a very, very loud pop (my ears still hurt) and my apartment goes pitch black...power's out. Great, just great...I'm sure the vonage router is now fried and I have no power. Flip the breaker and I'm back in business, but pissed off.

OK, onto the wireless router. Hook it up, power & connection lights are on, try to run the "install" and it keeps recycling through the process. Try going into the router settings via IP address to configure, it's all in Chinese with no English option. I spent about an hour trying to figure out what the problem was (I know I have to input my Chinese ISP ID/PW, but can't figure out where. Time to give up.

Fantasy Football draft in about 5 hours, will be good to chat with the guys back in the US for a while. Need to spend a couple hours with the repeat recorder and my mandarin book tonight, without constant repetition, I will never learn this language.

Back to the office Monday morning, can't wait for the 6:30am commute. It's going to be a long week, I can feel it. More interviews, more negotiations, more navigation through the processes here and a project back in the US that needs some much needed attention.

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