Saturday, November 3, 2007

All Hallows Shindig

I've been asked whether Inner Mongolia has Hallowe'en. Well, not really. Nor does China in general, nor Asia, for that matter, I suspect. In any case, within our subcommunity, which includes Alison's English school and the Holiday Inn next door (which has a half-decent buffet and a Western bar1), it's a bit of a different matter.

The school has had lots of decorations up (mostly thanks to Alison) for the last week, and had a party for their students last night (two days after Hallowe'en). But the height of our Hallowe'en experience was Wednesday night (appropriately) when there was a special at the buffet (meaning for one that it included beer) and a party at the bar. We met a couple of new friends there—two French guys (Antoine and Matthieu), one of whom had joined Alison's "I Live in Hohhot" group on Facebook.

After dinner we made the short walk to the bar where some others were awaiting us. These were four girls who are students at Inner Mongolia University, where I'm studying Chinese. They were Tomoko and Akiko (possibly the only Japanese students at the university), Tomoko's Mongolian roommate (whose name I regrettably forget), and their Korean friend Mun Gen (probably misspelled, but merely a phonetic approximation anyway). None of them are actually in the same class as me, though; this connection was also made through the Facebook group! The collection of us at the bar made for an interesting mixture of languages. Chinese and English were predominant, in that everyone spoke both of those, with varying competence. But other languages with at least two more-or-less-fluent speakers among us were French, Japanese, Korean, and Mongolian.

Oh, but as for the "Hallowe'en" aspect: All the servers at the bar had some manner of costume. In our group, Alison had a pair of devil horns, after her "bat" idea (involving creating wings from a black umbrella) failed; I wore a pig head (which was a pig-faced pillow, minus the stuffing) and fuzzy pink mittens as hoofs2; and Tomoko and at least one of the other girls had a mask of some variety.

In conclusion, we played the "bad influence" card that night, with everyone staying out until after 3am, including the girls who live in the university dorm (which closes at 11). I think everyone had a good time, at the end perhaps excepting Wilson, the bar manager, who wanted to close up and go home well before we let him.

1"Western bar" meaning that the place has a number of imported beers and is an order of magnitude more expensive than other drinking establishments around.

2My costume was only worn on the ride (did I mention my bike is sweet?) to the hotel, and my entrances to the buffet and to the bar, as visibility was very poor and the mitts made me too warm. (Perhaps the visibility aspect made the bike ride mildly foolish? In any case I think it may have reduced the number of stares I got, as when costumed I cannot be identified as non-Chinese.)

No comments: