Random thoughts after three weeks on the road…
Back in Beijing and it’s now fall. Fall is easily the loveliest time of the year here in the city of imperial dust. Unfortunately, it’s also the shortest season. How short? Last year I missed it because I had a meeting that afternoon.
Taking advantage of the weather and the holiday, YJ and I trekked over to Haidian Park for the first day of the Modern Sky Festival. Coolest moment: braving a short cloudburst with 500 or so Chinese hippies as the band Sound Fragment (声音碎片) played onstage and took us through the rain and out the other side into a (rare) gorgeous sunset behind the Western Hills.
Least cool moment: As much as I (and others) like to complain about Chinese crowd behavior on the subway, in the mall, etc. One place where it kind of works is at an outdoor concert with festival seating. In fact, the real douchebags pushing and shoving their way drunkenly through the crowd are usually the Lao Wai.
(Yeah, I’m looking at you drunk China newbie with the Jägermeister thundersticks shoving your way to the front midway through Second Hand Rose’s set.)
Funniest moment: Douchebag’s equally drunken Chinese girlfriend not once, but twice, being dropped on her head while attempting to crowd surf. Fortunately, tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum had spent enough time in the Jäger tent that she was feeling no pain and was up and bouncing around like a meth-crazed jackalope within seconds each time. How she’s feeling this morning though might be another matter entirely…
Finally a couple of quick observations from my trip out west:
1) A lot of Uighurs do not like the Han and are vocal about it. My students kind of knew this going in, but were a bit shocked by how often they heard it.
2) Han Chinese tourists in Xinjiang generally dress and act like they are on safari…which may in some small way play a role in the situation described above.
3) The food was awesome. Every night was like eating at Crescent Moon or Tumaris except that it was about half as expensive and the service twice as friendly.
4) After Xian I was without Internet so I have a couple of posts stored up which I’ll put on the blog sometime later this week. Xinjiang does have Internet and my students made ample use of the local wang ba to go online. Me? I find Chinese internet bars depressing in a kind of “Atlantic City casino with the old grannies sucking oxygen, chain smoking Merits, and pissing away their social security one quarter at a time” way. (Lower the age, replace slot machines with World of Warcraft, Merits with Zhongnanhai’s, and ‘quarters’ with ‘education’ and you’re almost there.)
5) Off to Brunch…