Hangzhou, China
30° 15' N 120° 10' E
Sep 18, 2006 07:09
Distance 63km

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Text written in: English


having been in a bit of a social life rut since arriving here, i began to get desperate to find friends. andrea, who you will meet later in this entry, said, 'you know you live in Smalltown, China when you don't consider enjoying a beer whilst chatting with someone on instant message to be drinking alone." it's true, really. i started using myspace (groan!) to search for people in china, and even found myself with enough time in the long evenings to weed through 73 pages of people listed as being "in china." most of them are in beijing, shanghai, guangzhou... but every once in awhile, my screen would light up with that wonderful word ... zhejiang. MY PROVINCE.

that's where i found andrea, and we became fast internet friends, having loads in common (including the not drinking alone thing, which admittedly, we did several times together. *clink!) finally, we decided to make a weekend of it and meet up in hangzhou. she lives one hour south and i live one hour north. not only is it convenient, but there is a plethora of social possibilities in hangzhou, it being a beautiful, lively, modern, clean provincial capital. andrea was also planning to meet a friend of a friend who lives there (chris), and i made arrangements for kathy and jackie (who were recruited by my same agent and we'd been corresponding via email) to join us as well.

andrea and i each set out on friday, through the rain and rush hour traffic, and finally made it to the hostel at nearly the same time. they were packed booked, but i got thrown into a room with andrea and a LOAD of german guys. they gave me a cot, which the german guys, thankfully, agreed to.  andrea had heard from someone else she met online that there was going to be a party for mexican independence day at an expat bar near the hostel, and that sounded great to me. after picking up a british straggler (mark), we met chris (who turned out to be very cool), got some dinner at an italian restaurant (YAY) and went in search of grandfather tequila's, as the bar was kitchily named.

i've always wondered what would happen if you got a bunch of mexicans together for a party in the middle of china. what serendipity it was for me, then, to end up in this bar (drinking chinese beer, as it were) with a bunch of loud, crazy, partying mexicans. it was unlike anything i've ever seen in my life. i ate soft tacos and learned to say "tortilla" in chinese (translated as BREAD SKIN if you can believe it). what a mind numbingly cool combination of things. the mexicanos really had their pride on - most of them wearing red and green, or had face paint. i even saw several people draped in mexican flags. the party lasted for hours and, thanks to andrea who is both a party animal and a fluent spanish speaker, we made loads of mexican friends. in fact, there was an entire SLEW of mexican students around us for the rest of the night, most of whom are studying in hangzhou.

later, we got invited to a club. we were assured by one of the mexicans (and his large bossomed chinese girlfriend) that we'd get into the club free, which we did, since it was ladies night. chris was still with us, and we also managed to pick up some irish stragglers. scratch that... i managed to pick up some irish stragglers. having noticed one very drunk, very crazy irish dude wandering through the mexican party, i immediately "made friends" (ie let him stumble around near me and take lots of wide-eyed drunken photos together). on the way to the club, i opted to go with some other mexicans in the second taxi, mostly because i was the only one who could speak chinese, so i didn't worry about getting lost. well, the other mexicans couldn't' get their shit together, so i finally wandered up to a large group standing near the door and lucked into the drunk irish dude and his two friends - all three exchange students in hangzhou. weee! so now it was me plus the irish on the way to the club to find my other new friends and the mexicans. we spent the rest of the evening whiling away the hours by dancing our asses off in a place where the bar  lit on fire.

fast forward to saturday - day two - the day where andrea didn't wake up until 2:30. that's PM. kathy and jackie arrived from lishui (3 hours south of hangzhou), and we spent the day mulling through shops and eating street stall food - yummy friend noodles and dumplings. we finally discovered andrea with some random italian guy (read: she also speaks fluent italian) she'd picked up, looking very hungover, nursing her a coffee and a cigarette outside of starbucks. hahah.

later that evening, we again found chris (the very cool, tall bearded white guy you see in all the photos) for dinner and food. kathy opted to stay in for a quiet evening nearby the hostel, so it was "just us kids" again. andrea, chris, jackie and i all taxied to a bar called maya. we found a small restaurant next door for dinner beforehand - eggplant, cabbage, potatoes, beef & hot peppers, pumpkin, rice. maya was a really nice, quiet bar with a sort of latin/hispanic flavor that, actually, reminded me a lot of home. inside there were deep yellow and red colors, and the walls had a rounded corners, and long wooden beams ran the length of the ceiling. we drank tequila shots and beers and ate NACHOS. after 3 shots of tequila and 2 beers, i was really keen for those nachos. man, i miss tortilla chips, but i digress.  then, someone somewhere came up with the fact that there was a BEER FESTIVAL going on, so we jumped out of the bar and headed for taxis. apparently, i have a way of finding stragglers for taxis, because jackie and i somehow ended up with two very loud, very tall american dudes we'd never seen before with us in the taxi. they made a lot of jokes and egged jackie into dancing ON TOP of the taxi upon our arrival. they even coerced the driver into getting up there with her.

well, the beer fest was closed by that time, but there was still a club nearby, so we popped in there and danced the night away. i know i am only 25, but i am not as young as i used to be. after two nights out, i was a wreck! somehow, jackie and i lost track of the american guys, but not before they gave us jerseys they'd gotten for free at the local football game earlier in the evening. woo hoo!

sunday morning, we all went our separate ways, but not before enjoying a FINE FEAST at papa johns pizza. can you believe it? papa johns in china. they even had the garlic dipping sauce. talk about good hangover food.

Photos / videos of "viva!":

viva mexico! viva me and andrea (don't worry, she only looks scared in photos) the mexicans with their pride on VIVA! VIVA! (from left) me, ricardo, some other mexican in red, andrea, chris i am never unhappy in the arms of a drunk irishman the bar lit on fire. me plus the irish! westlake sunset on saturday afternoon i heart papa johns! this, my friends, is the papajohns delivery fleet! andrea and i in front of the lotus garden at west lake jackie, andrea, and i on a water pavillion andrea, jackie, me, and chris enjoying our tequila at maya chris drinking an unknown concoction using the dice game lid as his cup! the girls are CRAZY one of the two loud, tall americans from the taxi. this was before they disappeared. me and a random chinese dude dancing don't ask some random dude (i think he was american?), andrea, me, jackie