Saturday, April 24, 2010


My photographer friend K had a 'warming' bash for her new studio last night.

It was a bit of a trek to get there (my first time to Caochangdi - it's in the same neighbourhood as 798, a similar set-up with old factory and warehouse space now being colonised by artists, but.... it's just outside the 5th Ringroad; and that doesn't really feel like Beijing any more, that's the countryside), but it was well worth it. It's a much bigger space than I was expecting, impressively clean, bright and well-equipped (inside loo!); and - surprisingly, considering the height of the roof and the bareness of the walls - the acoustics worked out pretty well. We had live entertainment from the band Girls Are Waiting To Meet You, as well as a couple of other musician friends of K's and some DJs. We had a very cheap bar. We had body-painted wait staff (from a distance, you really couldn't tell that they were naked from the waist up; and one tried not to stare). And we had free chuanr: the proprietor of a nearby Muslim restaurant had set up a portable barbecue outside to supply a steady stream of mutton-sticks, chicken wings, and nang bread. This was perhaps the biggest highlight of all: I have to find out where this guy's restaurant is - that was some of the best chuanr I've had here (the flatbreads in particular were wonderfully fresh and fluffy, delicately spiced, and perfectly toasted; it is going to be hard now to tolerate the stale, dry, part-burned, part-uncooked ones we so often have to suffer; even my favourite local joint on Gulou Dong has the unfortunate quirk of using - overusing - a rather too sweet liquid topping rather than just dry spices to finish its bread).

So, I've made it to the half-way point in my four-day party marathon. I'm not sure I'm going to survive; I went down with a vicious dose of tummy-rot on Thursday, and I've been sleeping badly all week (it's getting light ridiculously early in the mornings now; I really need to try and get myself some blackout curtains for the bedroom) - factors which are badly cutting into my stamina and sociability (I had to quit the party well before midnight last night - but still didn't get to bed very early because it took me nearly half an hour to find a cab). The prospect of all-day drinking tomorrow is starting to seem daunting rather than delightful (particularly as I'm going to have very early starts at work on Monday and Tuesday). If I can't find a way of settling my growling bowels, I fear I'm going to have to have a detox day today. And maybe tomorrow as well. Sigh. I'm not the man I used to be.

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