Jon's Farewell Party & Advent Crêpe Party
Sun 10 Dec 2006 - Mon 11 Dec 2006 3 °C
JON'S FAREWELL PARTY: Sunday 10 December 2006
I'm not sure how much I've mentioned Jon. In this blog, probably not very much, and I believe I've been calling him John with an h, because I didn't know until he gave me his email address that it lacked an h, so I suppose he needs a bit of an introduction before we say goodbye to him.
Jon's an American guy from Brooklyn, a philosophy major at American University. He's studied Chinese for two years at college and before he left he had been here for coming up on a year. He is a phenomenal Chinese speaker. He's just one of those people that's really outgoing, has no fears about saying the wrong thing, and I don't know how but he has an amazing vocabulary recall and seems to learn even the most obscure vocabulary words. He's in my class at school and, obviously, he's a pretty popular kid; he's just got one of those laid-back personalities and even a laid-back sense of humor, a sort of "whatever goes" attitude but not in that annoying "I don't know what I want" sort of way.
So, when we'd gathered together everyone he knew from the dorms and a few Chinese kids he's really good friends with, there were nearly thirty people in attendance. It was incredible, and lots of all sorts of people. I knew most of them, being in my class or having been at Niki's Halloween party, or having gone on the school trip to Henan.
It did, however, create problems when it came time to find somewhere to eat. The place we originally wanted to go to couldn't find room for us, so we wandered to South Street and went to a buffet. That was okay, I hadn't eaten all day (and had frozen my toes solid watching a football/soccer match the French guys are in) and I managed to scarf down a whole lot, but the food wasn't really that great and we all got split up between tables, so it was less of a Jon-oriented meal than one where we just sort of divided into our little cliques and ate some food.
Then we went to the world-renowned 1 + 1 club on East Street. (I only say it's world-renowned because kids in my Chinese class in Australia who had visited Xi'an knew about it, and I'd always heard about it.) I had yet to go to 1 + 1, either this time or the last, and it's a really nice place. I've only been to one nightclub before, and a jazz bar, in Xi'an, so it's not like I'm versed in nightlife, but it was definitely a really nice atmosphere. People there are used to foreigners being there, they probably expect it (though, I didn't see any other foreigners while we were there), and it's got good music and it's really clean. It feels a little bit like a maze to walk through, which is not really that fun when you're drunk, but I definitely liked the clean feel to it, mostly because it's so different to everything else you experience in Xi'an.
It was really much like your average night at a nightclub: drinking, dancing, and general frivolity. There are some highlights, though, and for brevity's sake I'll list them (but you all know how my lists go):
1. The drinks: Budweiser beer, which were Y25 each! This is absolutely exorbitant given you can get a 500ml bottle of Chinese beer right outside for Y3. We also got some Chivas whisky (which I think sponsors the club, given the amount of advertising), which they mixed with 冰红茶, which is just about the most common iced (red) tea drink you can get here. And before you start thinking that sounds gross, it's actually great. The iced tea is really sweet and somehow goes really nicely with the whisky. First of all we ordered a big combo deal, a beer each and a big bottle of whisky with mixers, and some small food (fruit, lollipops, chicken feet, you know...) which was Y50 each and, I think, an awesome deal.
2. However, as I mentioned the prices after you finish all that are ridiculous, and it drives most people outside the club and to a little stall for a Y3 beer so that you can get a cheap drunk and come back in. There's no cover charge at the place, so you just walk straight back in no worries. I hung out with the Western boys for most of the night, Ian a Canadian, Felix a German, and Jim a Briton, and of course boys being boys they went out at some point in the night. Which I followed along with, and it was actually quite fun. Not only was it fun to see Jim talking loudly in Chinese to the shop owner, we also stumbled across a Korean hairdressers that was quite interesting. We got there and they seemed to be practicing dance moves, supposedly for use as they cut hair. We thought this was hilarious, so we went inside and watched for a while. They sort of danced around à la Backstreet Boys to loud pop music and would swing scissors around their fingers and then do haircutting motions and... it was very strange indeed.
3. They played two Australian songs while we were there: one Rogue Traders song, and the really quite bad remix of Evermore's really popular song. I got really psyched for both of these, danced like a crazy woman, and had loads of fun telling people in shouted Chinese that these were Australian songs so I was very, very happy about it!
4. Briefly: chatted to Jim about Australia, as he's British and stayed for a while in New Zealand. One of those drunk conversations about politics and the state of the media, those sorts of things. Later: another German, David, drank too much too fast and passed out, then when we woke him as we were leaving, he threw up on the steps to the bathrooms, which I managed to step in without realizing (but realized before I slipped).
Then we headed out to get 烤肉 (kaorou), which are basically meat skewers. We took a fleet of taxis (we had to catch TEN on the way in but we were now about 23 people instead of 30) to the Islamic quarter, headed into one of the open restaurants, and ordered way more kaorou than we ever could have wanted. It was all spicy meat, liver and stomach and stuff and it was delicious but it was so spicy and seemed to upset my already beer-bubbly stomach, but it was all right in the end. I ate as much as I could fit in, tempered the spice with some bread, and drank some more beer. Talked to Felix a whole lot and I cannot for the life of me remember what we talked about (why he's in China, I think, but I can't really remember except that he's in the same, I study languages and what do I do with that? sort of boat), had to float Felix and Jim the money for the kaorou because they only had Y5 leftover from the club, and by the time we made our way out of the restaurant it was nearly 5AM.
The Koreans made fun of me for my accent and really, just tried to get a rise out of me because I'm such a quiet mouse in class and they want me to talk to them more. Then we took another fleet of taxis back to the university, collectively woke up the gateman (who wasn't the usual nasty-faced one, it was one of the women), and said a rather loud goodbye to Jon in the lobby. I guess from my perspective it sounds like I didn't have anything to do with Jon at all during the evening, but that's not true. We talked, told bad jokes at dinner, danced at 1 + 1, he taught me a Chinese kids' game that uses Rock Paper Scissors, and we talked about other random things during the night. So it was sad to see him go, but I'm the one who has to provide him with everyone's email address (Niki is collecting them for Secret Santa purposes), so I'm sure I'll talk to him again, and we're looking to be in China at the same time again anyway, so who knows. The world is small.
THE ADVENT CREPE PARTY: Monday 11 December 2006
Niki had been sent a few packets of crêpe mix in the mail a few weeks ago, so she'd been dying to have some sort of soiree where we'd all make crêpes together. She'd put it off, though, and so today it coincided with her desire to get a Christmas tree, and so (today being the second-to-last advent of the year) we turned it into an advent crêpe party. On the invite list: Niki, me, Malcolm, Ardan, and Andreas (another German).
This afternoon (after having slept off a hangover and had lunch with other hungover Koreans), we headed out to Metro, the big supermarket in the middle of nowhere, where you can find lots of Western food (real cheese and bread and wine and imported chocolates and biscuits and just wow), and also proper Christmas trees and decorations and things. Niki found her Christmas tree, and Andreas and I purchased little ones for Y20 to have in our room. I bought baubles, bells, tinsel, and lights for my tree, and so all up I spent about Y80/AU$13 on my Christmas stuff. Which sounds cheap, but then I also blew Y70/AU$11 on Twining's English Breakfast tea (100-bag pack). Those dollar values might sound like a lot, but consider I spent Y150, which is three weeks' worth of phone money.
We had to wait a ridiculously long time for a taxi, because at 4:30 taxis all change drivers (I have no idea why they don't stagger the change-over, but they don't), which means that from 4-5pm, it's virtually impossible to find a taxi that'll take you where you want to go. It took half an hour of us trying to find a taxi that would take us to the university (they all stopped to see if they could pick up a fare on the way to where they were going), , and of course we were still five people so Niki and Malcolm (who went to Niki's place first to get the crêpe mix) had to stay behind even longer.
Just after 6pm we started getting ready for the crêpe party! We held the party at the dorms, in the kitchen/laundry room on thr fourth floor (where all of us but Niki live). It took us an age to find the utensils we needed: we borrowed a bowl and frying pan from a classmate, a spatula and spoon from the kitchen that makes us lunch, and we just used the hotplate that's in our kitchen. We all also brought every piece of cutlery and crockery we have just so we could have something to eat off of, we used Malcolm's water bottle as a measuring cup for milk, and it was all very makeshift, but it worked out well anyway. Andreas and I put together his little Christmas tree, which we put on the fridge to be festive, I brought my computer as a musical aid, and we got cooking!
It was a nice sort of get-together, we chatted and cooked and wore our Santa hats and everything. The crêpes were really good, slathered in butter and brown sugar, or strawberry jam, or Nutella. At one point there broke out a war between Niki and Andreas as to which was the better chocolate spread: Nutella or Nussplimma, the latter of which is the German equivalent. You can guess who was rooting for what. We put this to the test, however: Niki took a blindfolded taste test, vodka in between to cleanse her palate, and she picked the Nutella. Of course, Andreas just told her she had picked the Nussplimma but I don't think she bought it in the end.
I ended up the evening getting photos from Ardan and taking some of my own Christmas tree, which I had put together as soon as we got back from Metro, and now I'm here writing about it all! Photos of the Advent Crêpe Party can be found at my Flickr account page, but there are no photos of Jon's farewell party because my camera is bad at taking night photos and anyway they wouldn't let you take photos at the club (I don't really know why).
Hopefully that's all for this week! Crazy start to it, hey? Ardan is leaving next week, so I think next Monday is also going to be a crazy night out, probably back to 1 + 1, and then the Sunday following that is our Christmas Eve party at Niki's house, complete with Secret Santas and loads of people! Then there's New Years, which I haven't heard of any plans for, but it all seems to wind up so quickly, I don't know how it all happens.
For now, it's 2AM and I need to be awake in far too few hours for class (one person turned up to our class this morning, apparently, and then another for the second hour, but neither of them had gone out the night before), so I think I'll call it a night and crash out.
Remind me to track down my Y20 from Felix and Jim...