The last three days have been a national holiday in China. Tomb Sweeping day as it is known here involves visiting the graves of your ancestors to sweep and offer food / tea. I would have a lot more to report on this, but tomb sweeping involves early starts and graveyards, neither of which feature in my top 10 things to do on a day off.
Instead I have spent the last couple of days with my friend Will, who lives about an hour away in Jiaxing. On Saturday we spent the day in Huzhou, drinking far too much coffee and sightseeing a little. In the evening we decided to have a few drinks in my flat before hitting a local bar. First up was a bottle of red rice wine, which I’m pretty sure was the worst thing I have ever tasted. Next were bottles of Tsingtao, a local beer purchased for the meagre sum of 25p a bottle. They were severely (years) out of date. After talking about the relative meat content of each of our hands – Will, we decided, was the clear winner – it was taken as necessary to seek the comfort of other, more normal, human beings. So, after a quick detour for dumplings, we arrived at the club.
In a bar in China it is the norm to order the amount of alcohol you will drink the whole night in one go at the beginning (don’t ask me why). This system works fine with Chinese people, who have neither the desire or inclination to show off their bravado my ordering more than they can drink / afford. Me and Will are a little different. After two hours we had garnered sufficient influence with the locals to be donated beer and – in the case of one very pushy woman – a lot of whiskey. The day ended where it started for me: in KFC, tucking into a chicken burger (or two).
On Sunday, I took the guided tour round Jiaxing. This mainly involved lifting weights at the gym, running a timed 100m sprint, sword fighting with sticks and playing practical jokes on Will’s eternally suffering (and extremely patient) girlfriend Emily. In the evening we ate more than our bodyweight in food and hit a bar in Jiaxing, comfortably the oddest place in the whole city. Very bad cabaret dancers shared the stage with topless men, dancing strangers and at one point Mickey & Minnie mouse (see below). Amazing.
Today we wandered around Jiaxing a bit more. In a local video store I bought the complete seasons of the sopranos, the wire and the pacific on DVD for a very reasonable sum. Seeing as I don’t have a DVD player (or any money to eat) some may consider this foolish; however, like China, I am investing in the future. Buying a ‘Stratofighter’ flick knife really was stupid, but considering I wanted a Samurai sword I think it’s a workable compromise. I am the shopping king.
Had a great time catching up with Will and Emily. It is nice to know you haven’t really grown up: sometimes I still feel like the 17-year-old kid at college who helped tear down a tree just to see if we could (of course we could).
Now home and ready for a quiet night before school again tomorrow. If the kids are lucky they may get to watch an American television drama centered around New Jersey based Italian-American mobster Tony Soprano. If only I knew where to find a copy….