Let the wine of friendship never run dry!

Peace out November!!!

November draws to a close, and so I should probably finish telling November stories this week in my blog, eh? There are really only two stories of note, with a few small anecdotes in between. This first post requires us to jump all the way back to November 6th. The month had just begun and we foreigners were but a shy six days into the growth of our No-Shave Novembeards. We had been invited to travel to the far-away nearby city of Ping Ding Shan (approximately 4 hours by bus) where we would be doing some sort of modeling service. The details were hazy, but we were assured that we would be fed, watered, transported, and paid a handsome sum of 400 RMB. As the university was delinquent in paying us October’s wage and we had little cash to spare those of us who had the weekend free (read: Josh and I) were eager to participate in the adventure. (In addition, it seemed like a fun idea at the time).

We departed the foreign teachers’ complex at 6 AM sharp as a party of four– Me, Josh, Anastya (the Russian teacher) and UIFIEFOSF (a student whose name I have forgotten). We met Josh’s energetic student at the South gate (her English name is Agnes, but she prefers to go by Apple, although I am unsure why. It could be because Agnes is a horrifying name…?) Anyway, we piled 5 people into a cab and began the ride to Zhengzhou were we would meet up with the rest of the entertainment troupe and our bus to Ping Ding Shan.  The ride was extremely uncomfortable, but was short because the taxi man was eager to get rid of us. It took less than an hour to drive the distance, and before you knew it were were sitting on a bus heading to Ping Ding Shan.

It was at this point that we encountered a kindly Australian man by the name of Phil. Phil had been roped into the situation the same as us, but instead of modeling he was expected to give a speech regarding the environmental situation of Ping Ding Shan (this is another case of a foreigner being used as an ‘expert’ when in fact he was anything but). Phil was very lovely and we chatted a bit on the bus ride. I buried my nose in papers and graded merrily for sometime as the bus drove ever on and on.

Hotel

At the hotel, motel, Ping Ding Shan Inn

Finally, around 11 AM, the bus landed at a hotel in Ping Ding Shan. We departed and began to explore the hotel a bit before being wrangled back into the bus to go get lunch. However, it was quickly decided that the bus ride was not really necessary and that we would simply walk to get lunch. We departed (again) and walked several blocks down the street to a restaurant where heaping plates of jiao zi were endlessly flung at us. I enjoyed tofu and cabbage dumplings and bowls of hot water (yes, the water was served in bowls rather than cups. Heaping bowls).

Mark Boney-- errr Phil.

After a brief lunch we moved back to the hotel where we began to prepare for our mission. Phil had been provided with a speech to give to the congregation and was in the process of rewriting the Chinglish into something understandable. Some of the great take-aways from the speech include lines such as: “I’m Mark Boney and I’ve traveled here from Switzerland today to talk to you about Ping Ding Shan,” and “I was told by my friends that China was not so good in the environmental area, but after coming to Ping Ding Shan my mind has been changed.” This last one is particularly funny because Ping Ding Shan seemed incredibly dirty. Phil was not comfortable with impersonating Mark Boney (if he even exists) and opted instead to go by Phil.

So here’s where events got horrid. We had been asked previously what our height, weight, and shoe sizes were, so we assumed that we would be dressed in some sort of outfits. However, we were certainly not expecting the outfits we were put into…

Wowzers.

Even worse was that they did not actually provide us with shoes, and so we were stuck in trainers and my old, beat up brown shoes that I’ve been using daily for months. The sight must have been truly ridiculous.

Anastya and JIJROIGR

We were next led to the hotel gallery room where we would be performing our job. A slightly terrifying woman with ridiculous eyes and high heals instructed us to hold out our hands. She then placed a tray on top and proceeded to try her best to get it to tip and fall off (she did this by attacking it angrily from all sides). She reminded me of a small Pokemon, lunging forward with attacks that were “not very effective.”

Josh, letting the wine of friendship flow...

Anastya, with a lovely tray of her own...

Eventually guests began to stream in and we were put forth as drink servers. Some modeling, huh? We aren’t entirely positive what was going on at the hotel, but suspect that they were trying to get rich Chinese people to buy into either timeshares on an unbuilt property or to invest in future real estate opportunities. After a few rounds of movement we had saturated the floor with drinks and were left at a loss as to what we should do. We kept moving around, with little reward for our effort.

IOOIHJOIH looking ridiculous.

Oh man...

About an hour into our job the presentation in the adjoining room began and we were told we could go change back into our street clothes. We were a little confused and worried that our job did not last as long as it was said that it should, but jumped at the chance to get out of our ridiculous clothing. We were told that we would be paid when we arrived in Zhengzhou, but it would be some time til then as the presentation would not be over until 6 (it was about 3:30 then).

Many beautiful and tall Chinese girls were hired to stand around and look pretty.

I managed to elicit a smile from her 🙂

The traditional Chinese band played such Stephen Collins Foster classics as "Oh, Susanna!"

I headed out into Ping Ding Shan to explore a bit, as Josh and Anastya went the presentation and HOIEHIGH stayed behind to do homework or something. My bar senses were tingling and it wasn’t long before I’d made friends with the local bartender and gotten myself a glass of whiskey. I phoned Josh and urged him and Anastya to join me. They did so happily and we began to drink.

Eventually DHFIUHEFI called us and let us know that we were beginning to head back to the bus (at 5:30 instead of 6) because the presentation was over. So we paid our bill and left the bar, boarding our bus back to Zhengzhou. The rest of the trip is inconsequential. We were paid our 400 clams and made it back in time to keep Lao Wang from locking us out in the cold. All in all it was about an hour of easy work for 400 RMB, but it took all day to accomplish… Strange China, that’s for sure.

Number 1 crew in Ping Ding Shan! (Apple is next to me)

As a final note for this post, it is currently the eve of November 30th and as such we are about to enter into the final day of no-shave November. This is me after one month of continuous facial hair growth. Enjoy, for you will not see it again for some time!

Sorry for the terrible quality. My webcam sucks. I will get a better picture tomorrow, before I shave on Wednesday 🙂

I shall endeavor to have a new post up about clubbing in Kaifeng by Thursday! Have a great Monday, USA!

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7 Responses to Let the wine of friendship never run dry!

  1. Victoria says:

    Great Post, JaM. Love the off-white silky shirt, it suits you! 🙂 Why did you decide not to shave in November?

    • Jon-Michael says:

      From Wikipedia: “It is quite common for some males in Australia (especially in the city of Melbourne) and New Zealand to sport a moustache during the month of November. The custom is known as Movember (Movember being a portmanteau of the words ‘Moustache’ and ‘November’), a fundraising event for men’s health issues. In the United States, it has recently become known as No-Shave November around college-aged kids to raise awareness of men’s health issues, mainly testicular and prostate cancer.”

    • tony capozzi says:

      John-Michael,
      I continue to enjoy the words and pictures that you continue to express during you experience in China. I find it very interesting, and it seems that you are enjoying your experiences there. Please know that your name is brought up frequently in conversations. You are greatly missed, and we look greatly for your return. You should write a book about your experiences. I think that it would be wonderful, and, you might be able to make some good money. Keep in touch, brother. You are greatly missed.

  2. JoeGP says:

    You look slightly like Ewan McGregor as young Obi-Wan Kenobi.

  3. Jon-Michael says:

    I suppose that’s slightly flattering. Oh, also those Ping Ding Shan pics are from the day after my haircut, so they’re the best they get.

  4. Mike Durkin says:

    So how much does it cost to hire tall, beautiful Chinese women to stand around? Fantastic post and the pictures were great, however, don’t quit your day job.

  5. Victoria says:

    I totally agree with Joey. I couldn’t figure out who you looked like, but alas it is Obi-Wan…

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