Saturday, May 26, 2007

Dirty, Dirty Country

The water's not running; hasn't been since yesterday morning. Apparently one can't count on even contaminated water to be in sufficient supply. Though I think the problem is just in our building. Alison tells me the last time this happened it took three days to come back on, so this has her more determined that we should find a new apartment for the fall. Alison bought two jugs of water to wash her hair with during this crisis. I think I might just head to the pool today - it's been a few days since I last swam, anyway. And besides, the pool showers have complimentary shampoo.

The other night I went out for dinner with Joe at a restaurant near his place. Joe doesn't really like much Chinese food, and I was happy for a break from it. The place is called Tabasco (and does actually have Tabasco on the tables, in two varieties). Apparently it is run by Germans, and it has something of an "internatial" d├ęcor - lots of countries' flags and such, intermingled with some Chinese lanterns. Joe points out that most Western restaurants with such a theme probably wouldn't include the North Korean flag in it. Anyway, they serve a number of Southwest dishes, though the overall selection is pretty broad. They took our drink order and I figured I'd take it easy and just have tea (which in most places here is just brought to the table by default). I'm glad they came back a few minutes later to confirm which kind of tea I wanted because in the interim I had come across the tea in the menu - green tea was sixty or seventy yuan for a pot (about six yuan to the dollar). So I asked for a beer instead, which was five. The waitress's English was pretty good, though it's comical how little phrases can be mis- or overused. She would say "please wait a moment" after every visit to the table. I also got a kick out of her serving my beer. First, it was a wine glass that she poured it into - and she seemed to have mastered a technique to maximize the head. Once she'd filled the glass, she made a little gesture and said, "Sir, please," as might be more typical after being served in a finer, Frencher locale. Oh yeah, and everything was "sir." It all seemed a little ironic as most Mexican-type restaurants I've been to previously aren't exactly high-brow.

Then last night, I was walking to meet up with Alison and gang at a restaurant many foreigners frequent for the two-for-one beer on Fridays. On my way I encountered my first Chinese motorcycle gang. Or at least a procession of somewhere between twelve and twenty two-wheeled vehicles. I use that description because some were scooters. And as if that didn't make it lacking enough in hardcoredom to be denied the title of "gang," many of the bikes were blaring bad pop music, and all were decked out in bright flashing lights.


Becky said...

Hey- Scooters are hardcore. You never know when we'll bump you slightly.

Anonymous said...

yeah...and think of tha crash bars!

Erika said...

Meh, I am sure running water is overrated anyway.

The art of beer pouring is definately more refined in some establishments than others. I once took it upon myself to show the bartender at a bar I frequented in Sweden how to tilt a glass while filling it with beer on tap. Apparently this glass tilt isn't included in Swedish bartending school. A surprising omission really in a country that most people consider to be quite modern and civilized.

Alison said...

hehehe.... I had the pleasure of seeing one of these "biker gang" members. Bright blue flashy lights he had!