It was 11 am and check out was in an hour. Lorne and Hugo were still lying in their bed, nursing their hangovers when I came in and told them, "Jessie's M.I.A." Lorne, eyes still closed and curled up in the fetal position says, "What do you mean?" "What I mean is, he never made it back to the hotel and his phone has no signal. He's an American lost in Changsha..."
Two days earlier, my university had taken me down the local police station to apply for my resident visa. It took at least 6 hours, not because that is how long it takes to apply, but because the police chief, Ms. Moore, enjoys using her position to practice her English and converse with the foreigners. We had to walk back and forth down the Shaoyang streets to get all the appropriate signatures and when that was finally done, Ms. Moore had me sit there while she asked me questions about America, China, and my thoughts on the Western influence on her country. She told me about her daughter and how worried she was that her daughter only like to watch American films and listen to American music and how the Western world was even influencing her daughter to leave Shaoyang and move to Shanghai for college, an idea that conflicted with Ms. Moore's more traditional values. So, we talked and I smiled and gave her my honest opinions, telling her not to worry, that whether in China or America, youthful rebellion was a normal part of growing up. Still, I had been up since 7am to get all this done and it was already nearing noon, and I was hungry and therefore, becoming impatient. Still, I kept a smile on my face and tried to be as polite and agreeable as possible. That is, until Ms. Moore told me we were finished and that she would keep my passport for the next 9 days while they processed my Visa. At this point, my patience grew thin. I told her that I was leaving for Changsha on Wednesday to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival and my three day, mid-week vacation. She told me that it was impossible and I would have to cancel my plans and stay in Shaoyang, which I then told her would be impossible. It took me about forty minutes of arguing, losing the smile on my face, and even playing the "my passport is United States property and my government forbids me to trust anyone outside myself with it" card, but eventually we came to an agreement that I would deliver my passport to her on Saturday once I had returned. I have to be honest, it actually felt quite good to stand up to her, especially after she wasted half my day getting a free English lesson from me. So Changsha was on and I was quite excited. That Wednesday, I bought some moon cakes for my friends, met Candy and her family for an early lunch, and met Lorne and Jessie at the bus station for a 2 1/2 hour bus ride to the capital of Hunan... Changhsa!
There were a few snags in the transportation process, but nothing major. I almost missed the bus leaving from Shaoyang because I made the mistake of calling Jessie to meet me out front of the bus station to make sure I was in the right place and of course, he went to the back and we thought we were at different bus stations. So I left on a motorcycle taxi only to find out that I was at the right place all along and speaking to Jessie was as bad as speaking English to someone who only spoke Chinese. But everything worked out, we had a nice conversation about religion, thanks to me and my ever debating personality, and arrived at Changsha sometime in the early afternoon. From there, we took a 40 yuan taxi ride to Central Changsha to meet up with Lorne's original TESOL training group, which he spent two weeks with in Changsha before starting work in Shaoyang. Of course, they were all Brits, so they were all good people.
There was Lorne, a tall, slender Albino with blond hair and a proper Oxford accent, Hugo, a Brit with a penchant for Chinese girls and a winning attitude that matched his smile, Chris, whose birthday we were celebrating who spoke with a Northern England accent and had a big belly and full beard that made him look like a Scotsman, Phil, a softspoken chap who had managed to pack two shirts and a pair of socks into a plastic handbag instead of a proper suitcase, Percy, an outgoing young girl from Wales who was great at being one of the boys, and Jessie, a Californian who despite being a vegetarian is utterly void of any ethics or moral fiber. Talk about a great group to hang out with in such a lively city. So, we checked into a hotel right in the middle of all the buzz, grabbed a bite to eat at Subway since we were craving a taste of home, and after showering and getting settled, started off the night pre-gaming with two plastic bottles of the Chinese version of Tequila, Bai Jo.
Mike, who was not living in Changsha, also met us at the hotel with two of his French friends, Simon and Kabul. It was him who suggested we hit up a bar called Hooligans, which now, I am so happy we got to experience. Hooligans was about half a mile down the center strip and was located down a hidden street right off the central square. We turned down what seemed to be a dark alley, only to be greeted with a long and narrow winding cobblestone road lined with Western bars catering to foreigners. You could tell because all of a sudden, it didn't feel like China, but more like Spain or some other European city and all the bars had signs for Heineken, Murphy's Irish Stout, and of course, Budweiser. Some even sported symbols for marijuana, which I found amusing since most Chinese would have no idea what that was. So, at the very end of the strip was Hooligans, a three story bar owned by an American expat with all the foreigners congregating on the third floor. We ordered 20 bottles of Budweiser and were trying to get some soda, since we had filled a water bottle with some Bai Jo and wanted to sneak some shots in, but this pissed off Mike, since he was friends with the owner and apparantly was trying to score some green from him. So, he made a comment that pissed off Lorne's friends and before you know it, were were short four guys from our team, since they refused to be talked down to and decided to walk out. Lorne was meeting a potential business associate at the bar and decided to stay, and I really didn't want to get in the middle of anything, so I played darts, drank my beer, and got into a deep conversation with Mike, Phil, and anyone else who would listen about how lucky we are to be in China at such an exciting time. After all, we were here on the groundfloor and with our basic, natuarally ingrained understanding of the Western world, we had a great opportunity to really be entrepreneurs here in the ever expanding and developing country that is China.
It wasn't an hour later that those who left our group were back in Hooligans, smashed out of their mind. Yelling, screaming, and being stereotypical "Brits Abroad" We all decided to leave, and make our way to a nightclub to finish off the night, said our goodbyes to Mike and his French friends, and proceeded to meet everyone at a bar across the street. So, Chris, Hugo, Percy, and Chad were already there, drinking beers and Bai Jo and Chris and Chad were obliterated. There was Lorne, trying to calm them down saying "Mate, your eyes are gone. Your eyes are gone Mate" to which Chris would just start singing some English drinking song. We managed to pull them out of the bar and back to the winding cobbled road where it was night raining slightly, which was actually quite nice because I felt like I was walking the streets in Europe somewhere. It was very romantic to strolling drunkedly down a slippery stone road with the soft rain and the soft glow of the bar lights leading our way. We headed back to the hotel since there was a nice strip of nightclubs just around the corner from us, but it took us a while since we kept losing the drunkards. While walking, we could hear them behind us screaming, "Brits Abroad!" and heard a bottle smash on the floor. Afraid to be associated with the behavior, we walked farther ahead, only to realize a few minutes later, that they were no longer following us. We doubled back, found them harrasing a food vendor on the street, and led them back in the right direction. We found a great nightclub about 20 feet from the entrance to our hotel and walked in like we owned the place, and by the end of the night, we did...
It must have been midnight by the time we got there and we did the usual, made our rounds around the nightclub, scoped out floor plan, and then continued to get lost in the madness. Lorne and I unoffically became the shepards of the group, making sure no fights got started by our boys, making sure that Percy was safe ( we even spent a good twenty minutes searching for her only to see she was harmlessly getting hit on by an American outside the bathrooms) and keeping relations cool between the rowdy foreigners and the locals. But most of all, we danced. And drank. And danced. And drank. I know that for a while, all of us were standing on the stage, dancing and make a fool out of ourselves for the entertainment of the locals. Chris and Chad were drunkedly leading each other around until they broke out in an argument and Chad left the club and went home. He wasn't staying at the hotel since he was stationed in Changsha, but he had no money on him and we never did find out how he made it home. The next day, when we met up, he couldn't believe half the things he did and had no recollecton of the night after leaving Hooligans. And after that, they all started dropping like flies. At one point, Hugo, knowing he was going to be sick, made a b-line for the bathroom and wasn't able to make it. He said, all he remembered was thinking, "I'm not going to make it" then, looking up, made eye contact with the cleaning lady outside the bathroom right before throwing up all over the floor right in front of her. He disappeared into the men's room to finish up and expected the bouncers to be waiting for him when he walked out, but instead walked out only to see the poor cleaning lady dilegently cleaning up his mess, so he just went right up to a couple of girls, sat down next to them and began chatting it up. Needless to say, he spent the last hour that we were at the club passed out on a lounge chair with a beautiful Asian whispering into his incoherent ears. Next was Jessie. While we were all dancing on stage again, I turned to see Jessie, bending over the stage and throwing up at his feet. I pointed it out to Lorne and both of us started laughing and pretending to hump him from behind. Jessie found a table to stand at while I tried to get him to drink water, but he was gone and couldn't even do that. So I left him there, while Lorne danced around the tables shirtless with Chris and Percy and jumped in to join them, also shirtless. I was keeping an eye on Jessie, but at one point, he left the table and I thought he was making his way towards us. Moments later, he had disapeared. We danced until the early morning and by 4:30am decided to head back to the hotel. By this time, Lorne had caught the sickness and on the way back to the hotel, Hugo chunked on the street. I tried to have Lorne do the same, but it wasn't happening. Instead, they all staggered back to their spinning beds, while Percy and I, the only two who were still coherent, made a fun run to McDonalds. We passed out around 5am, and by 11 I was knocking at everyone's door, handing out bottles of water and helping everyone to piece together the night. Phil had woken up in the laundry room sleeping on the dirty linens, Hugo had gone to Chris' room and thrown up all over their toilet, and Jessie was still missing. We gathered our wits, extended our stay for one more night, and finally got a call from Jessie telling us that somehow, he had managed to wake up in the dorms of a local university about 40 minutes from our hotel laying on a bamboo bed with a group of older women standing around him and poking him. All in all, it was one of the best nights I've had in China so far...
Posted: Mon Sep 27, 2010
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It sounds like the party is just starting!! haha You guys sound crazy!!! I love reading the blogs!