Contrary to America, the weekend after Thanksgiving simply does not hold the same significance in China. There are no Black Friday specials, no mobs of hungry shoppers trampling each other, and a certain lack of Christmas cheer. Of course, this is to be expected in a country which does not celebrate Christmas. I was unfazed, but a little bored anyway.
So it was that on the Saturday after Thanksgiving we five foreigners plus Emily (one of our good Chinese friends) ventured out into the great wilderness that is downtown Kaifeng and attempted to go bar hopping. As many of my Akron friends will know and recognize, most of our barhopping includes a trip to about three bars (BW3s, Pints, Thursdays, and MAYBE The Lounge or Brubakers). Akron is pretty lame and as it turns out, so is Kaifeng. Josh and Ben did some investimagating and discovered three bars located somewhat near each other in the downtown area, so at around 6:30 we headed out to find dinner and drinks.
Of course the trip to downtown is a bit lame by now. It’s not really an adventure to go downtown anymore, and we quickly found our favorite restaurants and snacks and chowed down. After eating we headed to the location where the first bar supposedly was. We were familiar with the area as it has recently been rebuilt and is crowded with a variety of fun shops and vendors selling good food and fun. After asking for directions several times we located the bar, but to our disgust it was closed for business (whether it was just for that night or forever we are unsure).
With a persevering spirit we continued onward to the next bar. On the way I stopped off to get a sweet potato (or so I thought). What I got, instead, was some disgusting potato-tasting yam that was entirely purple and mushy. Here’s a picture of me trying to peel and eat it was we continue moving forward:
About three blocks on from the shop I chucked it into the deep grass in the median of the street, angry about my purchase.
Eventually we arrived at our destination…a small back alley overshadowed greatly by a large supermarket. To say the alley was a bit sketchy would be no stretch of the imagination, but the warm glow of the bar-sign beckoned and within a few moments we entered the gentle embrace of that sweet ichor, liquor.
To our surprise, the bar was entirely unoccupied save a lone woman in the back corner who looked to be suffering a bout of severe depression. We moved into some seats a good distance away from her and ordered some Pabst Blue Ribbon. When I say Pabst Blue Ribbon in this case I actually mean PBR knockoff, which tastes even shittier (yes, it is possible). We quickly switched over to Budweiser and were somewhat happier.
After a while, the Beloit teachers got a bit bored of beer and decided to chip in on a bottle of whiskey. I was content to stick with beer and save myself the money. They ordered the bottle and were quickly rewarded with a mixed drink (the most carefully poured I have ever seen) of iced tea (lipton knockoff brand) and whiskey. We also received a large bowl of fruit, which was quite delicious.
The interior of Xin Yue was pretty cool. There were LCD screens everywhere with flashing pictures of attractive women. The atmosphere of the bar was nice– it had a bit of a steampunk feel to it. On the whole, it was a cool place. That was, until, an old man came to the bar and demanded to do whole room karaoke. From that point on, not only was the bar empty of all individuals save us, but it was also full of terrible vocals and annoying melodies. We quickly hatched plans to escape the location and head to the third and final destination of the night: Club Aipai. At this point, Ben decided to head back to the apartments.
We caught a taxi and indicated our wish to go to a street we lovingly refer to as ‘Pink Hotel Street’ because of a large pink hotel sitting on it. Upon our arrival we began climbing some stairs to find the bar. On the way there were several strange wall-paintings which simply must be shared:
Upon our entry into the bar our coats were taken and we were seated near the door. A waitress came and we ordered seven beers (they were only sold in 7s, for some reason) and began to look around. Aipai has the air of a strip club, but actually lacks the stripping. There were girls on raised platforms dancing in skimpy outfits, but it was a rather mild entertainment. Toward the back of the establishment there was a stage with what appeared to be a dance floor in located in front of it.
The club manager appeared out of nowhere and began talking to us in decent English. He had been living in Hong Kong or something and was doing something. It was too hard to hear him to really make out what he was saying. After we drank some of the beers the we decided to go out on the dance floor. However, as there were still beers and whiskey to be drunk and the females’ bags to watch one of us had to stay put and wait. I drew the short straw (actually I volunteered) and the others ventured out into the darkness. I spent a little while eating sunflower seeds (which had been provided) and staring around at the other patrons.
After a couple five minutes, Josh arrived back at the table and told me he had made friends. So I took the remnants of our articles to the table near the back and met our good friend HUHFIUEHF. EHFIUHEF offered us many new beers and cigarettes. We attempted to turn down the cigarettes, but were unable to shake him and ended up feign-smoking. It was quite terrible. He also made us chug beers, but since he was paying I wasn’t complaining (they were Tsing Dao).
I headed out onto the dance floor and began getting accosted by Chinese girls. The experience was unexpectedly physical… as it turns out, Chinese girls are more willing to make contact (touch and grope) than most of the American girls in clubs I have been to. After a couple of songs I returned to our friends table for more beers, but was quickly pulled away by the girl I had been dancing with. She took me to the table she was at with her friends and forced a fresh Heinekan into my hand (again, not complaining). We drank for an awkward few seconds and then she pushed me away (occasionally I feel like a zoo animal?).
At this point all of the other foreigners had disappeared and not wanting to continue chugging beers with our Chinese friend I headed back into the wilderness that was the dance floor. I was quickly located by my Chinese girl-friend and we began dancing anymore. I looked away for a second and was suddenly accosted by a pair of lips upon mine. I pulled away, looked at her quizzically as she blushed a bit, and then she turned and walked away.
Returning to our table (the other foreigners had re-appeared), we made the call to head out. It was nearing midnight and we needed to get back before the school gate was locked. Exiting the club we quickly found a cab and headed back to the school where the party didn’t quite stop.
On the whole the experience was quite interesting. Aipai was a strange club, but at least it had people in it. As for my Chinese girlfriend, you are wondering? I have never seen here again. I have now achieved one of my lifelong goals to kiss a stranger.
Coming soon to a blog near you: Exam time in China!