Monday, January 17

Eat, work, sleep

Yesterday I excitedly anticipated eating lunch with the Chinese photographers. But when it came, it was simple rice and shredded pork. Spurred on by my sudden cavalier attitude to cuisine, last night we went to a Chinese BBQ place with all kinds of meat cuts, served up with cabbage, garlic, peppers and food of indeterminate origin.

And it was fine! Admittedly I washed it down with a gallon of Chinese beer.

Earlier I re-visited the supermarket and saw the whole flattened ducks that had been dried out and turned into some kind of monster jerky.

It's cold as hell in the convention center, so I also slipped into Zara for an over-priced scarf*. Even halfway around the world I was stuck behind a woman doing an exchange and trying to cash in some crazy-assed coupon.

The scarf didn't cut it, so today I bought a zippered hoodie**. Post purchase, I put it on and zipped up. The zip broke. I didn't keep the receipt, so I guess there will be no return.

* Post trip I threw away the scarf.
** I still have the hoodie. Anne wears it as a house coat. Hobo chic.

I've been humming hits of the 80's for the past few days, and finally realized why. The hotel quietly streams pop musiic throughout the corridors and restaurants. Mixed in with the light originals are Chinese covers. My favorite so far is a helium voiced girl singing a cover of the obscure Cyndi Lauper song, Unconditional Love, replete with the 'L' sounds turned to 'R' sounds.

More mysteriously, the whole floor of my hotel smells of Chinese food. There is no restaurant within 18 floors of where I am. Odd.

As I arranged my bag on the bed this morning, my shoed feet must have slid under the bed. As I moved away, a spent condom wrapper was stuck to my shoe. Gross.

In more rubber related news, at the store today I noticed a brand humorously titled jissbon.

I'm loving China, and the people. I'm in the Economic Zone, so I'm not the first Westerner they've seen. But I've received way more smiles than I would have expected. My gripes are mostly the usual superficial crap that blights my American life too.

My work is introducing me to US brokers, who work with Chinese factories to produce Christmas tat. And it makes for interesting people watching. For every 'absorbed in the culture' guy, there are five 'I'm going to talk in a slow condescending tone' guys. Each day, half of them get Starbucks and McDonalds, the other half try the noodle bowls, but on the side of the office area is a big crate of Pringles (taste different) and Oreos (taste the same) that is quickly disappearing.

Dozens of Chinese helpers are all over the center, fluffing up fake Christmas trees, constructing yard decor, and polishing tree ornaments. Whole trucks of product come in and out every hour, and nobody seems to get frustrated, raise their voice or cause a scene.

The guard checks my pass every time I go to the bathroom. And smiles when I return. I have a bathroom story for another time ...

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