After an unimaginably exhausting week of classes and make-up courses, Friday posed a welcome promise of relieving stress through some drinks at expat hangouts.
We tried desperately to nap before going out since our schedules aren’t conducive to much rest during the week. We each spend three to five hours teaching every day; the rest of the time is spend prepping or finding time to work out.
6 a.m. – alarm rings
6:50 a.m. – board the bus to the university
8:20 a.m. – Alex, myself, or both of us teach
11:30 a.m. – finish teaching; eat lunch
1:30 p.m. – teach again
4:40 p.m. – finish teaching
5:00 p.m. – find dinner
8:00 p.m. – arrive home after an hour-long public bus ride
Day after day, that’s what we do. Add in the sheer difficulties of living and functioning in a nation in which we’re incapable of communicating. Our brains are punching us from the inside out after 15 hours of consciousness.
Friday night we dragged our zombie selves out of the apartment to meet Jen at a bar called Maya. It is owned by a guy from New York, and the burger fryer is from Boston. The bar was unusually quiet, Jen said, which was fine by us since we were so tired. Over a couple of pitchers of mango daiquiris, we lamented about our students and told random stories about our lives.
A Chinese girl named Jessie asked to join our table, she was friendly and unusually interested in me. Alex and Jen continued talking about life in college and I got my teacher face on and conversed with her about advertising and media (she wants to be a graphic designer).
After Maya, Jessie showed us a different bar that was nearly empty. She left us there and Jen, Alex and I bellied up to a Singapore Slinger – quite possibly the most disgusting cocktail I’ve ever had. Gin, brandy, Contreau and cranberry juice filled a pint glass topped off with a swirly straw. Disgusting.
We continued on our bar-hopping spree to a place called Reggae bar, where we watched a belly dancer and chatted with some people from the UK. We even met someone from Minnesota who sounded like he had been hanging out with Eastern Europeans for too long and had developed a faux-accent (I new he was faking it as soon as I busted out the “Mini-sooo-tah” to which he replied “Ya shur ya betcha”).
Our last stop of the night was a dance club called Coco. I haven’t been to a good dance club since leaving Europe, so it was a welcome surprise to hear a great DJ and have a wildly international crowd.
Chinese people dominated the bar (appropriately so) but there were people from Africa, South America, Europe, and definitely some east coast preppies from the US. Alex and I had a blast – Jen said the club was the quietest she’s ever seen it, I’m excited to see what a “good” night is like.
Each place we went, there was one consistent phenomenon: American or European men with Chinese girlfriends. I don’t think any boys looked at any of us twice that night. Which is fine, it’s just comical how often we encountered it.
The night ended at a street corner noodle stand where we pointed at vegetables and noodles as they fried it up before our eyes with a gas-burner wok that they hooked up to their bicycle when the night was over.
For less than $1 we watched as they sautéed and shook the pan that was so hot it was screaming. It was a thing of beauty. We dined on plastic tables with other Chinese night owls and caught a cab home.
China, you sure know how to dish out the random.