26 August, 2006

Out til 3...up at 8

Why I'm up at 8am on a Saturday after a fairly long night out is beyond me. I'll admit, I'm a little bit anxious to get out and walk around my 'hood today. I want to see what's around here, and I haven't seen much...other than walking up and down Guanghua and spending a lot of time in taxis.

I'm going to head over to SPR Coffee, it's just about a block away. It's a nice, usually quite coffee spot. Comfortable chairs, decent coffee, good service. I'll get the typical stares through the window "big american sitting at small table." Yeah yeah, hilarious. All of the reading materials are in Chinese, and I'm not quite ready for that yet. They do have free wi-fi, which is great. So, I'll go connect over there, plow through some email and maybe come up with a few more posts for manninchina.

So, a recap from last night...

After my mandarin lesson, I had a few Heinekens in my apartment. Ray (a guy a met through my pseudo cousin Matt last time I was here), called me earlier in the day to see if I was up for some fun later in the evening. He suggested that I meet him and one of his "girl friends" for some Korean BBQ. I was up for that, hadn't yet tried that in Beijing. I forgot the girl's name, but she was grilling me on my mandarin and suggested to me...don't get a tutor, get a chinese girlfriend and you'll learn all you need to know (this is literally the 10th time I've heard this).

Ray tells me to give him a call when I get in the taxi so he can tell the driver where to go. Ray's been here for about 4 years, speaks the language very well. So, I hop in a taxi and try calling Ray. No answer. The driver just takes, me in the car, shrugging my shoulds, motioning to him that I have no f'ing clue where to go. Try calling again. No answer. Driver keeps on driving, as if he knows exactly where I want to go. OK, he's got to answer this time...ring.... no answer! At this point, I was ready to get out of the cab and wait for the call back, but it was raining, so I just hung around for the ride, wherever he was taking me. Finally, Ray calls back...his ringer was off. He tells the driver where to go, 3 minutes later we were there. He really did know where I wanted to go! Well, I'll think that anyway.

So, I head into the reastaurant, Ray apologizes for the missed calls... I didn't mind, will just add it to the list of experiences in Beijing. He's got a couple bottles of saki on the table, and a lot of food on the way. I'm thinking to myself, "boy, this is going to be one of those nights."

After many toasts & little food, the saki was gone. I was ready to move onto some beer. Tsingtao it was, good stuff, especially if you can find it cold (which, you can't always find). Dinner was good... had some beef, hamburger-like thing, spicy as hell spinach and some fruit with a mayo-like dressing on it?? Anyway, most of the stuff was good, time to head out.

We were going to meet Jimmy (another guy I met through Matt). He was at a party over at Central Park (a large high-rise apartment complex). This was the second time I want to a party in Beijing, invited by Jimmy and felt awkward once again.

Bill, the host, had no clue who we were when we walked in (6 w's in a row, I probably broke some grammar rule). Jimmy quickly came over to introduce us. Bill has been in China for about 1.5 years, he works for a gaming company here in Beijing. Red Mushroom Studios. The company employees about 50 people and is just about to launch a new game.

We hung out at Bill's, with a bunch of people we didn't know and didn't seem to want to get to know us, for about an hour. It was time to hit the bars.

Jimmy suggested the ever popular, Suzie Wong's. Likely one of the most popular bars in Beijing. So no objections, so we got into Jimmy's "party van" and headed over.

Jimmy is a character, always up to no good. As we were leaving the gated apartment complex, a taxi was heading in... what does Jimmy do? He drives right towards him, head on. Basically, he just wanted to see if the guy would move. He did, we left, on the way to Suzie's.

You see all types of people at Suzie's, when I say all types, I really do mean all types. You've got the locals (mostly local girls), the expats (from all over the world), the tourists, the random 50 year old business tripper, the "working girls," etc.... And in this mix, you can break it down some more... the local girls just looking to let loose and dance, the local girls looking for a foreigner to be there boyfriend (or, just buy them drinks), the Europeans, who mostly dress weird around here. The expats, who are mostly all regulars. You can be anyone you want here, no one knows you. I think a lot of people do this. Especially funny is the dancing, I am defintely not a dancer, I try to do it as little as possible. But, there are some people up on that dance floor that are just horrible. Even worse than my brother Tim, the famous arm pumper.

China is going through an interesting time right now...the economy is booming, the summer Olympics are only 2 years away, jobs are growing, poverty is down. Ray and I were talking about this...it's almost like they're going through an industrial, tech & sexual revolution all at the same time. You can actually see the excitement on the locals faces at Suzie's ... they're up on the dance floor, dancing away, not a care in the world at the moment, just enjoying life. Great to see.

So, Ray and I order a bottle of Black Label, it was a whiskey night. Jimmy and another guy (J I think) were doing redbull/vodka. The waitress shows us to a table near the dance floor, we crack open the bottle and just sit back and watch. I love people watching when I'm in this place. I really think I'm going to buy a video camera while here, though I don't think many bars will let me use it. You've got the local chinese up on the dance floor dancing away to lame 80s music mixed by a DJ. The "50 year old business trippers" up on the dance floor showing their stuff, just a large mix out having a blast (in their own mind anyway).

Jimmy's up to something again... a girl sets her drink on our table, so she could go dance. Jimmy sees this, and the bottle of Black Label right next to it. He's tempted, what's he going to do? Well, I guess he thought her drink wasn't stiff enough, so he dumped some whiskey in it. She sees him, makes him drink the entire glass, then buy her a new one. Comedy.

So, these guys start to disperse...they're running into past "girl friends" and it is getting late...so, I end up left at the table, thinking to myself... should I talk to some girls or head home. I was ready to head home, plenty of time for the girls later.

I was thinking I'd feel like shit this morning, but Ray told me last night...when he drinks saki & black label, he doesn't get hung over. I didn't believe him, but now I do, no hang over in sight!

So, 3am it was...got home and passed out.

1 comment:

Esteban said...

Hey Matt,

Excellent post. I think you picture the place and the overall mood beautifully. Sounds like the right place in the world to be right now. Maybe Beijing is to 2006 what Frisco was in the late 60's. Keep us posted!!