Quite a night in Beijing.
Alistair and I arrived around 3:30pm, with the plan to meet Duncan on Wangfujing Street at 5pm. The two of us wandered down, taking a short-cut through the Orient Plaza, which is a nice mall on one of the main drags. As we approach the locator map of the mall, this Chinese student immediately homes in on us. They're like friendly parasites in Beijing, and they're almost always women in Arts programs at university. She was a Philosophy major named Rose. She offered to show us around a bit, and we had nothing else to do, so off we went. Alistair wanted to hit up a DVD/music shop. He went off to do his browsing while Rose and I chatted about Chinese movies, actors and directors. She recommended a few directors to me, and suggested checking out a movie called "Letter From an Unknown Woman". I found that there and bought it to watch with Angie when I get back.
On Wangfujing Street, she went her way, and we went ours. Fun to meet new people, even briefly. All they want is to use their English with a foreigner, though you sometimes have to be careful they don't talk you into a drink someplace and slap the bill on you... which could be extremely pricey if you've walked into a swank tea house or coffee shop.
Alistair and I then headed to the Foreign Bookstore. Before that, I did a price check on a piece of camera electronics for my dad, and the lady started asking me to make an offer. I kept saying "Wo bu yao" (I don't want it) to which she replied "Make me an offer". So wrote down 2100 yuan. She glares at it and says "NO! Can't make any money from that." ... some people's kids.
I bought a Chinese-English dictionary and "The Count of Monte Cristo" in the store, and we went across the way to McDonald's to get a small hamburger while waiting for 5pm to roll around. When it did and Duncan still wasn't there, we tried to get my phone card to work. We must have looked like complete morons. No workie, and we spent like 10 minutes with the damn thing. So we went to the hostel, checked in and called Duncan on his cell from there.
Anyway... we hooked up with Duncan at the hostel at 6:30... he was a tad late. Then we grabbed a beer in the Backpackers' Club and went to the Sichuan restaurant that Steve, Nika and I had tried in October. Good food, good times. We even had the same waitress, which was funny. We had another beer there, and headed for Sanlitun.
First stop... Kai Club, this little place off behind the main street that played trance/techno sort of stuff. We lounged about on crap couches for two or three drinks, pondered a strange painting of a naked Chinese guy lying down on his front with a bullfrog leaping over him (or possibly out of him...), then packed it in and wandered farther along.
Bar Blu was next on our list, but before that, Alistair and I checked out a great 24-hour DVD shop across the street. I bought "The Machinist", "On the Wings of Desire" (movie that "City of Angels" is based on), "Old Boy", "Hotel Rwanda", "Tsotsi", "Lost In Translation", and "O Brother Where Art Thou?". I think I'm now up to... well, almost 90 DVDs. I've bought approx 60 here.
We had quite a few drinks in Bar Blu, and watched some cricket and football (English football). Alistair explained the mysteries of cricket, and it's actually quite a cool sport. It gets a bad rep for being boring, and maybe the 5-day games can be boring (Alistair says "strategic") but the 1-days are pretty cool. The bathroom was quite nice. It was like an aquarium 'trench' urinal. At least it was nice until some Chinese guys stumbled in to ummm... expess his body's displeasure at the amount of alcohol he'd consumed. That was our signal to continue stumbling onwards, so we hopped in a cab and headed for Suzie Wong.
Suzie Wong has a feel like a remodeled 1920s opium den. It's quite lavish, with friendly and knowledgeable staff, decent drink lists, and tonnes of atmosphere. I abandoned beer in favour of whiskey sours. (Turned out to be a big mistake around 4am, but I digress.) There was a party of 20 or so near us, so we stayed on the same floor and didn't head up to the loft area. They were all from Paris, doing a one-year roaming something-or-other. They were Economics students. They'd been to Shanghai for three months (I think), were in Beijing for ten days, and were headed to New York for six months. They were blowing cash like nothing. Absinthe, champagne, towering glasses soaked in alcohol that they set fire to, blah blah blah. They must have spent 3,000-5,000 yuan there, easy.
Anyway, when Alistair and Duncan decided to carry on to Mick's, I decided to cut myself off (which I ought to have done at Bar Blu) and head back to the hostel. It was, at this point, 2:45am. I had a very very rough morning, the details of which I will skip. The first point I felt semi-decent was when we got onto the bus back to Tangshan and passed out for 2 hours. That was at 12:30pm, so yeah... it was a harsh morning. Alistair and Duncan had it slightly better, but they got less sleep. They stumbled in at 5:30am. They also passed out on the bus.
Quite a night. Part of the plan had been to get up at 10:30 this morning and hit Wou Hei hutong and have lunch and do some shopping before coming back to Tangshan. Well, that got scrapped since we looked and felt like zombies this morning. All in all, it was a great night, and there is lots of photographic evidence...