Monday, September 18, 2006

Monday Adventure

Every week, I try to do or experience something that I can look back on and say "That was fun/cool/neat/bewildering". Yesterday, it was going to Xiao Shan, "Small Mountain".

I started the day getting up around 9 or so, and chatting on MSN, and shaved my head. Gave Michelle a shout around 11:30 to see if she was still up for checking out The Banquet, a Zhang Ziyi movie set in 907 CE, China. It was something we'd talked about over beers on Sunday night. It was basically just her and I in Tang Shan, as Alistair, Nick and Duncan had headed to Beijing for a night out.

The answer was yes, so I got cleaned up and went for something to eat at Das Restaurant. I was to meet Michelle at the cinema at 1:30, but she met me at the restaurant instead. Good thing, as I got there at ten-to-one, so would not have met her in time. We had breakfast, then began what Michelle dubbed the Quest for Tai Ji Pants. I began with the manager and a few of the staff at Das Restaurant: "Wo neng zai na mai tai ji kuzi ma?" That didn't work quite that well, so I just went to broken Chinese: "Wo yao kuzi. Tai ji quan zhe dao ma? Tai ji quan kuzi. ... Kuzi. Zhege." They got it, and started pondering and brainstorming. They came up with Xiao Shan. We sort of laughed because Xiao Shan is the name of the pole-dancing guy that Michelle fancies from Xin Dong Li.

I had them write it down in Chinese, and we went to check the movie show time at the cinema. 3pm, so it being 1:45pm, we had time to have a Pants Odyssey. So we set out by taxi.

We didn't have to go too too far - maybe three kilometers and we were dropped off in front of this row of shops. Michelle and I looked at each other and just shrugged. So began the "Wo yao kuzi. Tai ji quan kuzi. Zai ma?" We ended up wandering down an alleyway, finding a mini-market of clothes, and asking. They pointed towards this partially obscured building.

In we went. Behold: four storeys of floor-to-ceiling clothes of every description. It looked like a clothes black market. Again, it was huge. Picture a department store with only small aisles and little stalls with false walls behind them going up to the ceiling, all clothes laden. Scattered everywhere were twenty-foot high bundles of wrapped clothes, or massive bags of them being stacked on the counters.

Anyway, as it really defied description. ... but no tai ji pants. Wandered outside and through the rest of the clothes district. No go. Le sigh. So tonight I'll go to tai ji in street clothes and just ask where I can get them. I really can't do tai ji without something as I don't have proper clothes for it. Thus I need to ask where I can get more Chinese clothes. You'd think you'd be able to find traditional Chinese clothes in China... but nope. It's proven extremely difficult.

The Banquet was quite good. Like a Chinese "Hamlet". Big production, and the music was interesting. It kind of clashed with itself sometimes, which was freaking cool. And it had English subtitles, which surprised the hell out of us. We expected to just have to suffer through with very limited Chinese understanding. (Oh, movies here also have Chinese subtitles due to the different dialects all over the country.)

The Chinese have to be one of the most rude people in the world. At least ten cellphones went off during the movie (there only being about 20 people in the theatre), and only two people got up and went out to answer them. And Chinese people are not exactly quiet. Then in the middle of the movie, this middle-aged couple comes in and start to talk loudly about where they should sit. ... and they kept talking throughout the movie, so I started kicking the guy's chair. He eventually shut up, but then other people would talk, or shout into cellphones, etc. Really kind of irritating. It got Michelle and I talking about what exactly is polite in China. So we're going on a quest to discover what it is. Because it can't be common courtesy, not spitting, helping others, watching where they're going, not staring, not jumping in front of others in lines, etc. Kind of blows my mind. I think people think China and picture courteous people and customs. Not so.

So that's my story of the day. It was a good day, over all.

Oh, and someone hot-boxed Tang Shan this morning.

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