travels with my barang-barang

After dark 04

Posted in After dark, Beijing, Chopsticks by ejl on 24 March 2009

Belated updates because I’d been having off-site meetings till stupid o’clock almost everyday last week. But fear not, the gruelling work schedule has not reduced by much my eating, drinking and the carrying on of other debauched activities in bonny Beijing.

The more interesting picks of last week:

St. Patrick’s Day
It was Paddy’s Day and I was stuck in a conference room till 9.30pm trying so hard not to poke that American lawyer’s eye out with a pencil stamped with the name of a state-owned enterprise. The moment I could leave, I was in a cab directing the driver home while negotiating three different phone calls to pinpoint a location for good ol’ fashioned Paddy’s Day drinking. The original plan was, of course, Paddy O’Sheas but reports came through of it being ‘heaving’ and ‘too crowded’ and ‘too much effort’. And so it was that I stopped at Luga’s Villa to meet up with a bunch of folks who’d had two hours of drinking on me, and did my best to catch up.

Somehow, at some point, we ended up at Chocolate and there for the first time I witnessed the dancing girls. DANCING GIRLS. Whee! And there was champagne. And silly drunken dancing! And tumbling into a cab at god-knows-what-time in the morning.

Suffice to say, the hangover was pretty bad the next day and I suffered greatly sitting back in that same conference room I’d left only 12 hours before trying to make sense of the negotiations around me. Thank god for painkillers and coffee. And Touche Eclat.

Thursday is not lao-wai-day
Having spent Wednesday evening still hungover and feeling sorry for myself, we decided to explore somewhere completely out of our drinking zone. We went to WuDaoKou (五道口). Which we now conclude is (1) way out in the sticks, (2) a very long and expensive taxi ride home and (3) not somewhere I’d want to be drunk on a weekday night.

We’d heard about Propaganda, and so we went in search of it. Found it, hung out in it, left shortly after. Strike 1 – overwhelming smell of salty popcorn. Strike 2 – strange dance floor layout. Strike 3 – patrons weren’t good looking enough to compensate for their lack of enthusiasm on the dance floor. We also stuck out as obviously being the only non-PRCs in the place who weren’t students.

So we headed to Bling in the Solana complex, although we didn’t really know where it was and had to be (mis)led there by a 老外who also didn’t really seem to know where he was going. We ended up there, in the end, after having to stop and ask some movers and then a security guard. The 老外 we’d followed was heading to Bling because his PRC girlfriend was performing a nunchuck dance – we watched in awe, it was extremely impressive. I also saw the tallest broadest Chinese guy in my life, with impeccable tailoring (he might have been the 老板 or the 经理?) – more impressive than the nunchuck-dance, I tell ya.

Other than that, the drinks were good but expensive. The crowd was pretty good-looking but also verging on the obnoxious. There were some other 老外around, but they were the sorts that I’d try to avoid at all costs and who were just behaving like sleazebags. The dancefloor was empty and the place was just seemed rather soulless, although the soullessness might just be a result of it being a pretty quiet night.

Q Bar on Saturday evening. We stopped by after a hotpot dinner at Haidilao (海底捞) for a quick one-two, and seriously if you want a good caipirinha go to Q Bar. It’s even better than the one I had Lan Bar, with the right graininess of sugar and tartness of lime and actual cachaca instead of Bacardi. I’m sure the crowd was getting better too, but my friends were being lame and all crying off on account of ‘tiredness’ *rolls eyes* and so we left and went our separate ways. I managed to squeeze in two episodes of The Soprano’s before heading out again (to the raised eyebrows of my security guard) to SLT for more drinking.

Champagne brunch at the Westin Chaoyang on Sunday, again. They’ve upped their prices, so now it’s about RMB450 a head, which may or may not include whatever surcharges they decide to slap onto the bill. The level of service also seemed to have fallen off slightly, although no major complaints and still great food and lots of champagne. I might hold off on the Westin Chaoyang for a couple of weeks and try somewhere else just to get a broad overview of the brunch action in the Jing.

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