Recommended Listening: “Clubbed to Death (Kurayamino Mix)” – Rob Dougan
Wow… where has the time gone? It feels like just yesterday that I was typing my last post thinking that I had waited too long to write that one. Here we are, over a week later, and I’m just now getting around to writing this one. On one hand, I’m happy that I’ve lost track of time because I’ve been quite busy here. On the other hand, I’m a little bummed that I didn’t get to see some of the things that I told myself I’d make sure I’d go see. No worries, however, because it looks like I will be here around the middle of March or so to assist again. No promises, but if/when I do come, the posts should be more frequent. Not to mention that I have a few posts going on in my mind that I’m going to write in order to force my influence upon all of you who are reading this. Heh. But seriously, they are just thoughts going through my mind, and this has served as a great outlet for those random thoughts.
Let’s see, what has transpired since last I wrote? Well, I never did get to go visit my brethren. The weather has been miserably cold here. I’m not one to complain too much about the weather as I feel that I’m pretty lucky to have my ability to adapt to both cold and hot pretty well. It may not be ideal, but I can handle it. Some of you whom I’ve talked to while here will know, it’s not the cold that’s bothering me… it’s the 20+ mph winds that never seem to go away. Dry, cold, and windy. That stuff cuts right through you. Due to this weather, I’ve chosen to not leave the house unless I absolutely have to. I can’t justify being miserable just to see or do something that I can do in a couple of months. Instead, I’ve been continuing to read, and I’ve been catching up on the True Blood series that I bought. Although my plans for Sunday morning were put on hold, I still had plans in line for Sunday evening with some friends. Kathy (a bartender from the Stumble Inn who has worked there since my last visit) and some of her friends go to a German Beer Hall not far from the Sanlitun Village. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my time here, it’s to be open minded about replicas of foreign ideas. They’re never completely right, but usually not a bad approximation in order to remember home, wherever that may be. As I walked into the hall, I was welcomed by massive amounts of brewing equipment. Three large settling tanks, copper lines everywhere, and the infamous German 1-liter mugs. The only thing missing was the oompa-band. Oh well, can’t win them all. Their beer… awesome. Their food… awesome. It’s definitely a place that I will return to on my next trip. Liter of dunkel, plate of sausage and kraut… I’m happy.
The next several days at work were busy, but uneventful. We had a number of meetings with our direct customer as well as two of our subcontractors regarding electrical design. Unfortunately for me, my role in those types of meetings are to be the token white guy from America who is representing the technology that is licensed. Unless a question is directed at me, I don’t have much of a purpose unless the discussion that is being tossed around is way off base. For the most part, everyone was on the same page. The rest of the week progressed very similarly as our guests were at the office. It was either sitting in a meeting or preparing for the next meeting. A necessary evil, I guess. Friday, the week was finally over, and it was time to relax. Fred and I have tried to gather some of the Chinese engineers together to go bowling, but with these meetings, we haven’t been able to put the group together. We’ve located a bowling alley close to us, but free time has been hard to find leaving the bowling to just us two. We arranged for a driver to take us downtown for dinner, followed up by some bowling fun. I’m not sure what it was, but the bowling experience was like night and day for me. It’s like a light switch was turned on and I remembered what I was doing. Granted, I was still using alley equipment and couldn’t expect a miracle, but I was quite pleased with my scores. I’m looking forward to bowling here again. I miss bowling in leagues like I used to, but any time I get back into one, I can’t wait until it’s over.
Saturday morning was spent hitting up the local markets for last minute supplies for the remaining few days that I have here. That and walking around with a bloody nose that had frozen to my face. I surely got some funny looks walking around town like that! It wasn’t the most pleasant experience, and I hope to not repeat it while here. That night, I was challenged to a night of all nights. I was asked to hang out with Kathy and her friends again, but they all worked later than normal. The challenge: Arrive downtown right before the subway shuts down (11pm) and stay until it starts back up (530am). This challenge is what brought about my recommended listening choice, because it’s a great description of what happened. I began at the ole Stumble Inn for some food and a couple drinks. From there, it was off to a place called The Den, which is a 24 hour Irish bar. I’m not sure how long we spent at The Den, but I will tell you that it was too much. It was quite possibly the nicest dive bar I’ve ever been to. A type of place that you say “Just because you’re open for 24 hours doesn’t really mean you should be…” From there, it was off to a club nearby for a few more drinks and some dancing. They actually had some pretty awesome local DJ’s spinning all night. In fact, they were so good that I didn’t realize that 5am had come and gone and we were all still there, going strong. Around 630, we finally called it quits and went for some breakfast, or at least something called breakfast. Frog meat and tofu was an interesting combo, but hey… it’s China. From there it was off to the subway for the long ride back to the apartment. Never, ever, ever, ever again am I going to think that this is a great idea. I felt like pure hell for two days after this, and didn’t even drink much more than 4 or 5 mixed drinks over the course of 10 hours. Sunday was a waste following this. I spent all day on the couch napping and watching TV, hoping to feel better. Definitely not the best end to a weekend I’ve had, but I can’t lie… it was fun as hell.
So now, here I sit in my office, trying to wrap up last minute affairs before heading home in a few days. I probably won’t get a chance to write again until I’m home, but it’s been a blast, as usual. I expect to be back here in March to resume where I left off on this contract. The weather will be much nicer, and hopefully I’ll get to finish seeing the rest of the places that I have on my list.
Until next time!