14 August 2011

A fond farewell to Cathay and all her glories

Drum Tower 鼓楼

Kabobs and beer 串啤 - VERY spicy!

Well, this is quite a way to go. I’ve been suffering recently from a persistent headache that has sometimes gotten to migraine strength, the internet has been notoriously temperamental (more so than usual, that is) of late, and it is currently raining but not too hard (it was pouring earlier). Still, yesterday I got to do some more touristy things, exploring around the Forbidden City, the Drum Tower 鼓楼 and Andingmen 安定门 for fun, eventually going for kabobs and Yanjing beer and later karaoke with a few of my friends here. A fitting way to end my time in Beijing, actually!

The kabobs we had at this place (mantou 馒头 along with roasted chicken thighs with peppers) were ridiculously, lip-numbingly spicy; as a side dish we were served chilled pears with crushed ice as a ready fire-extinguisher (they disappeared in a hurry, that I will say). After that we talked about history (mostly ancient history - 夏商周 the first three dynasties of China, and what the defining marks of each era were) and spent a few hours at a KTV bar belting out tunes (naturally, the ones I picked out were Black Sabbath, Nightwish and Queensrÿche - though I was surprised to see the power-metal act Last Successor 末裔 on the setlist!). A lot of the available selections were pretty mainstream pop and pop-rock, mostly Chinese artists I hadn’t heard of (though I did a passable rendition of ‘99 Red Balloons’!). A very fun guys’ night out before I return home in a couple of days.

It’s strange; I’m very eager to get back - I miss my girlfriend terribly, along with mostly-English conversation, good cheese and internet that isn’t blocked / service-denied. But there’s a strange melancholy in my leaving, as it probably should be; I deeply love this country, and it comes to feel like home in a number of ways.

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