Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Wednesday 8th February, 9.15pm, Train from Weihai to Beijing

We've just set off on our train journey back to Beijing. By stark contrast to our first train journey, we have "soft bed" tickets and are sharing a compartment with a girl who is also going to Beijing. We should be arriving tomorrow around lunchtime... so in about 13 hours!

The five days we spent in Weihai were mainly marked by copious amounts of alcohol; the Chinese really know how to make an occasion of drinking! When with a group of people, toasts seem to be the customary way of drinking your beverage. When someone toasts to you, you down your drink. When you toast someone else, you also down your drink. When a general toast is made to everyone, you again down your drink. So it comes to pass that more often than not you end up with with some rather staggered walking and slurred speaking post- lunch and dinner.

As a consequence, I've spent three out of the last four mornings waking up at 6am with a parched throat and have had to (drunkenly) stumble round the flat to find some water.

Last week we spent Chinese New Year at Keer's grandparents' place in Zibo. Dinner was a family affair (+ me!) where I got to sample the delicacies of - amongst other things - sea cucumber (very rubbery), pig's skin, pig's face, duck's tongue (surprisingly boney), ... Chinese restaurants are great - in most you can get a private booth and often on the table is a massive disc on which the food dishes get put, and they everyone is free to spin the disc as necessary to help themselves to what they fancy. I think I prefer this way of dining out. You certainly get to indulge your tastebuds.
Year of the Rabbit - me and my zodiac sign

It's traditional to burn yellow tissue paper in remembrance of one's forefathers on NYE, and indeed you couldn't walk more than a few meters down the road without coming across someone's ancestral fire.

The live TV countdown was basically on for the whole of the day (and the night) and there were so many entertainers they could easily put anything on BGT to shame. That was quite interesting to watch, and although I couldn't tell anyone apart, Keer informed me there were lots of groups that were representing the various ethnic minorities in China.

For the last week there's not been a day or night go by where there haven't been some fireworks set off in our vicinity. I don't think they stopped at all on NYE, 'til about 6am on NYD. In fact, yesterday as Keer and I left the flat we managed to walk right into someone's firecrackers which predictably started exploding while we just stood there screaming from shock.

Keer and I have treated ourselves to body massages the last two days at this blind masseurs' place...except not all the masseurs are blind. I'm not sure how I feel about this massage business - it's rather painful and I wonder if the benefits truly outweigh the pain. My bones feel quite sore.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Monday 7th February, 10.15am, Weihai

I've woken up with a horrific hangover. It would be acceptable to sleep it off if we weren't about to go and meet Weihai's Mayor for lunch.

Engaging in "philosophical discourse"
Things I remember from last night:
- indulging in "philosophical discourse" with Keer's dad about the merits of philosophy, with particular focus on the German and Ancient Greek writers
- having an (allergic?) reaction to "rice wine" [though I have since found out it's not made from rice] - it felt like my throat was constricting every time I took a sip...it didn't put me off though (?!), until I was told my face and neck had gone particularly red
- eating delicious seafood hotpot (Weihai is on the coast)
- playing some particularly bad pool
- singing some particularly good karaoke
- dropping my contacts and their case on the floor in the bathroom and spending a quarter of an hour - in vain - trying to find them

Things I don't remember from last night:
- how I got to bed
- where I put my shoes
- what it is that I did that has resulted in my tongue feeling like it's been dipped in a bowl of boiling water