Monday, February 28, 2011


It’s been a few days since I blogged last! It’s Monday night in Dalian. The trip is winding down. I have less than a week left.
Thursday was a long night. Friday was a short night. Saturday was a long day and night.
I met up with Tan Dan on Saturday afternoon. He wanted to get some lunch, so I hopped in a cab and gave the driver the phone. Tan Dan guided him to wherever he wanted me to go. We end up arriving at one of the shopping malls. I get out, call Tan Dan, and he immediately appears. Sneaky Tan Dan!
He has his girlfriend and another girl with him. He brought the other girl to meet me. Her name is Lucky…”Yes you are! I’m an American.” (JK) So we walk into the mall….I’m not sure why…but we do. Tan Dan wants to go to a Brazilian BBQ place. It’s on the 5th floor of this mall complex. There are escalators that just keep going up…it seems ridiculous, but I guess with so many people…you can’t just have a bank of elevators. So we go up a flight, walk around a corner, and then we go up another flight…..repeat process until desired level.
We get to the top and the place is PACKED! It’s a huge restaurant but it’s packed and there are at least 50 people waiting to get into the place. Hmmmmm….Tan Dan thinks it’s a long wait…I agree. I tell him let’s go somewhere else, maybe a regular Chinese restaurant?
REAL QUICK: I’m now going to call Tan Dan- T.D….just makes it easier.
TD thinks we can go to a different BBQ place. So we all hop in a cab and start driving. We end up at another mall. The malls are extremely frustrating. Every Chinese person is trying to go there on a Saturday. It’s massive gridlock, no cabs, and to many people to count. It’s just not a good seen. So I stop TD and say, “I’d really rather we didn’t eat in the mall, let’s just find a Chinese restaurant. “ You wouldn’t think that was asking too much.
However, TD has a look of disappointment on his face. I think he really wants to make an impression here. So we do the 5 escalator thing again…get to the top…and…just as packed. I just rub my face. It’s now almost 2:00. I had no breakfast and an apple for dinner the night before. I’m getting hungry. Again, I stress to TD that anything will be alright…I think the girls are in agreement. So we walk downstairs….6 escalators….we went to the basement this time.
We end up eating at a weird place that was kind of a buffet.... it was hard to describe. It had a grill in the center of the table for you to cook the food. You had to go to the front and pick out the meat that you wanted to grill. Once you picked out your grilling choices you sat down. I asked Dan if they served beer?
“You drink as much as needed.”
“Yes”, TD then pointed at the drink counter that was stacked with Tsing Tao beer!
“My Man!”
I cracked one open and poured Lucky and I a beer. “To American, a land you may never see.” I just made up that toast…but I thought it was funny. (I did crack open the beer….I’m sure a lot of you find that hard to believe.)
We were sitting in a booth enjoying the beverages when I noticed something float by my right shoulder. I turned to look and it was a bunch of yellow little rafts floating around the whole room; then back into the kitchen. They each had a basket with appetizer like food on them. It was just like the rubber duck game at a fair or carnival…you pick up the duck and get your prize. Only here you grab a basket and get your prize…off the little yellow raft…really strange. TD thought it was strange that I thought it was strange….strange.
So we enjoyed lunch and a few beers…..
After lunch TD wanted to go to a Chinese place for tea. So the girls went to walk around the mall and TD took me to the 4th floor (5 escalators). Then we walked into a tea shop. While we were going up to the tea shop TD told me that his uncle was going to meet us. He was thinking about moving to Australia and wanted to know what I thought of Australia…..
”Uh…TD….I’ve never been to Australia. I’m an American. The only things I know about Australia are Crocodile Dundee and Kylie Minogue.”
“Yes, but they speak English, you can speak about culture.”
So we walk into this little tea shop. It’s actually a store/tea shop. TD tells me where to sit down. So I do that. Then his uncle walks in right behind us. I’m introduced to his uncle…who speaks no English. I’m pretty buzzed from the beer…but figure someone might try to sell me a Mogwai…so I figure I better wait and see….so while they talk Chinese I sip on a cup of tea and try to remember the three rules for a Mogwai.
1. Don’t feed them after dark.
2. Don’t get them wet
3. Don’t put them in direct sunlight
I was pretty proud of myself for remembering the rules. I felt a lot better about buying one. Just while I was thinking about how to get him through customs, TD pokes me.
“Now you talk to my uncle about Australia.”
“What does he want to know?”
“TD, I don’t know anything about Australia…I have a few friends in the States who have been there. It’s too late to call, but we can write?”
At this point I’m on my 5th or 6th cup of tea. They serve it in shot glasses. They had made like three different kinds of tea. There was a big difference in taste between the teas. We drank a bunch more. TD’s uncle apparently is rich. He’s responsible for all the signal towers that go up in this province, apparently that pays well.
I ask a bunch of questions about the tea:
Which one is the most expensive? You wouldn’t think tea could cost that much
Which one did Confucius drink?
How many times can you use the tea leaves?
Do you eat the tea leaves?
So after while I decided I wanted to buy the whole set up. I wanted to be able to make Chinese tea at home. TD asks me which kind of tea do I want?
I light up a smoke. “Do you have any that cures hangovers?”
“All tea good for health.”
“That’s not what I asked.”
So TD checks with the owner for a hangover tea. He shows me one that he thinks will be best for that. I buy it and the one that Confucius drank…just because it will be funny.
I then all the accessories….so now I can have a tea party! It’s actually a pretty sweet little set up. All top secret Chinese stuff.
After the tea, we met up with the girls again. I needed to go home for a nap before the evening festivities. So TD found me a cab.
I jumped in the cab and we drove two blocks, then the cab driver picked up another passenger. This happens from time to time in China. This guy gets in…against my best protest. He’s just a tiny looking dude. He has on an over-sized black dress coat. His head is just poking out from above it. His head looks like a turtles head on those old cartoons…the one where the turtle and hare race.
He’s crunched in the corner. He’s talking on a gold cell phone and smoking a cigarette in a cigarette holder. He’s looking very feminine. His voice sounds like the Chinese guy in The Hangover…only a little whinier. VERY STRANGE! Especially since I’m carrying a tea set on me.
We finally make it back to the hotel. I wish the tortoise well and head off to sleep. Later that night I met up with TD, his girlfriend and Lucky. We had a good time. I’ll try to catch up the rest of the way tomorrow!

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