Another quick note on Facebook being blocked in China, thanks to all of you who have commented on these blog posts, but I can’t reply. Such is life behind the Great Firewall. No YouTube either. Sucks.
While I was writing yesterday’s post, I had a snack of the best dumplings in the world. They are made by a small chain restaurant, each shop about the size of a typical college dorm room, and each equally as filthy. However they make these lovely little culinary wonders. Notice the delicate “knitting” where they seal the dough around the meat filling. All done by hand. Ten dumplings for 3 RMB, or $0.45. They have two types of sauce, a savory peanut and a very hot sauce. As you can see, I like them mixed. I eat these nearly everyday.
I also stepped into the “convenient” store next door to the office and was thrilled to discover they are now carrying Pabst Blue Ribbon, in six packs no less! You get so used to the standard 600 ml bottles of Kingway and Tsingtao here that a 12 oz PBR is a nice taste of home.
After working until nearly 8:00 PM, off we go to join a group of expats for dinner. One of the fun things about traveling overseas is people you meet, because typically the boring ones stay in their home country. Expats are memorable folks. In this group were several good old boys from Southwest Virginia and Tennessee, a retired Canadian Football League lineman, a young lady from my old home of Taiwan, etc. I had been told we were going to the Mongolian place, but last minute change of plans results in another Xinjiang meal (oh darn), this time at an outdoor street restaurant. We had all the wonderful standard dishes, but had one I’d forgotten about. If you look at the dish in the middle of this photo, what looks like meat and potatoes is actually meat and a special type of fried bread. It is crisp but still moist enough that it feels more like a root vegetable than a crouton. Really amazing. I’d love to know how they make it, but the owner is a shrieking banshee and I was not inclined to ask. This place serves Sinkiang (the old romanization of Xinjiang – like Peking for Beijing) beer, a very good black beer in 12 oz longnecks.
After a very long dinner which kept getting longer as more and more people showed up, off we went to the grand opening of McCawley’s Pub in Futian. The event was arranged by Brent Deverman of www.shenzhenparty.com, a great guy and good friend of Mike’s. A very good turnout. Highlights included 500 ml glasses of Hoegaarden, my favorite beer, and my first sighting in China, a well faded duck brown Detroit jacket, worn proudly by a guy from Texas. I almost brought my Detroit jacket, but opted for the waterproof ski jacket instead. Darn.
The new pub is beautifully done with wood and fittings imported from Ireland, but the opening night service was poor. The staff needs some practice. Well lubricated with a liter or two of good beer, we migrate around the corner to a night club owned by another friend of Dave Learn’s. The owner was there, a very nice Chinese fellow. Turns out he’s started several of the hottest clubs in town, all of which I’ve been to over the years and this is his latest effort. Highlights of the debauchery that followed include meeting an old friend from South Africa (we once had this conversation – “hey Whit, I haven’t seen you in so long, did you move to Shekou or something?”, “no, I live in the USA”, “WHAT?!” – I used to travel A LOT), three different types of moonshine from a Korean female alcoholic psycho (she carries them in her purse), and Taiwanese tequila shots, which means you snort the salt or something like that. I’m little fuzzy on the details, but I know I did mine straight. Salt and lemon are for sissies.
After a good night’s sleep, it’s market day. I left most stuff behind since I prefer to carry on and the company apartment was not properly stocked for my arrival (we’ll be discussing that on Monday). Also the refrigerator broke, so we had to get a new one. But first, lunch with Mike’s wife and her cousin at a Cantonese style diner. Much hilarity ensued when the very helpful waitress asked me if I wanted a fork.
Liantang Road is the local market street, lined with shops and sidewalks crowded with vendors. There is also a big grocery/department store. Great selection of local and Western foods and goods.
So after buying the food, time for the refrigerator, which takes us past a stand promoting a new line of shoe polish. So I get a free shoe shine. Notice that the salesmen have cut off the corner of the tube rather than use the dispenser. That’s a metaphor for something, just not sure what. You have lots of such experiences in China.
Later Mike Bellamy and I met for dinner at a Dongbei style (“Northeastern”) restaurant.
Dinner with seven 600 ml Snow beers was 110 RMB, or $16. On the way home we stopped at our apartment complex’s convenience store for supplies.
By the way, Mike asked me to redact my pet name for The House of Mao restaurant. It shall henceforth be referred to as Joe Stalin’s Snack Shack.