A tale of two dogs, pepper spray and a one legged woman

23 12 2008

Only in East Vancouver!

Yesterday at lunch, I was walking back to work from the restaurant and my co-worker and I passed a man and his dog out in front of his apartment block.  The young german shepherd seemed to be enjoying the snow.  We commented that his dog really seemed to love the winter snow.

About 40 feet away we passed a woman clearing the snow from her car. Her dog was around her.   We noticed the dog started running toward the young shepherd.  The woman called her dog back a number of times but dogs will be dogs…  Next there was some barking and some growling…  Things deteriorated. 

The second dog clamped down on the shepherd and the owner of the shepherd was trying to drag his dog back into the apartment.  He was cursing and laying the boots to the other dog.  We had passed the scene a bit by now but had stopped when we heard the noises.  We noticed that the second dog was a pit bull and was not planning on releasing from this other dog’s leg. 

The man’s girlfriend handed him some pepper spray (who would have pepper spray handy like that you ask? – East Van residents, I guess) and he started spraying the pit bull.  No effect.  He wasn’t letting go.  They have a long genetic line telling them to “HOLD ON!”   The woman started to head over from the car to the dogs and we notice that she’s on crutches and only has one leg.  She’s “running” as fast as she can in the foot of fresh snow, and wipes out about 10 feet short of the action.

I decided that I should help.  Things had deteriorated severely by now.  I ran over to help with the dogs.   The fallen woman had been using crutches so I grabbed one of her crutches and gave the dog a few solid whacks to the throat to try and induce a cough reflex.  The shepherd owner was still trying to get his dog in the apartment while peppering the pit bull (note… they don’t care about pepper spray) At the threshold of the apartment, I managed to jam the pit bull’s neck between the door frame and the crutch.  He let go of the other dog long enough for the other dog owner to get his dog into the building.  With the crutch and our feet, we managed to get the pit bull out of the building.  The shepherd owner is laying loose a string of curse words aimed at the dog, the woman… He was not happy.(justifiably so)  He didn’t seem to be overly concerned about the one legged woman on the ground in the snow.  Her dog having happily trotted off to try and wipe the pepper spray off seemed to have forgotten the whole incident even happened.

With pepper spray residue on my hands, I got the woman back her crutch, made sure she was alright and told her that she had better have much better control of her dog in the future.  I didn’t even bother to listen to her answer.  I wanted no more part of this whole mess.  My friend and I decided we had best be on our way before the shepherd owner decided to come back out with something more lethal than pepper spray. 

Definitely an eventful walk back to work from lunch.

Later that afternoon, after having washed my hands 5 or 6 times already,  I rubbed my eye as it was itchy.  Now I know what pepper spray in your eyes feels like!!!  Thank God I work in a lab… It was right over to the eyewash station and a LONG LONG rinse.  The pepper residue stays on you for a LONG time.  When I got home and showered that evening, I could STILL feel the burn where the pepper spray had been on the back of my hands.  Not nice.  (Note to self – Don’t piss off a cop either… they carry pepper spray as well!)

That was my day yesterday.. how was yours? 🙂

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Spending Time in China continued

21 09 2008

After a tortuous night, Monday morning gratefully arrived.  I had woken up at around 0300 and realized that I didn’t feel so great.  Cold sweats, nausea – It seems that something in that curry didn’t agree with me.  The four hours between 0300 and 0700 were punctuated by trying to keep my temperature regulated, trying to make sure I was close enough to the washroom and trying to sleep. In short, I had been to hell. Thankfully by 0800 I was ready to go, albeit a bit weak-legged.  I decided that I desperately needed some breakfast… some congee perhaps.

We went down for breakfast and there wasn’t much being offered.  We chose some beef noodles (Lanzhou is ALL over the beef noodle thing) and some steamed bread twists.  I only ate a bit.

Our colleague came to get us at 0900 and we took a taxi to the office. We got to the office and started unpacking various bits and got to our tasks.  Things looked like they were going to go pretty well.  Lunch was one of the first signs that it could be a long visit.  We had gone to a restaurant near the office and it was PACKED.  There were 3 large ( >10 ) tables and others.  They squeezed us in and my seat was milk crate – Oi Vey!  The smoke was so thick you could taste it in every breath.  I had forgotten that you could smoke anywhere, anytime in China.  They REALLY need to work on that.  We had a meal of fish (with chillis), Potato slices (with chillis), Chinese cabbage (with chillis) and I think something else (with chillis – do you see the trend?)  Way too much food ordered.  We took some back with the idea that we could reheat it at the office if hungry later.

Other than the fact that I basically smoked about a dozen cigarettes sitting in the restaurant, lunch was good (and SPICY).  The rest of the day went pretty unremarkably (wrong outlet for UPS etc, but nothing life shattering)

I took a few pictures on the way home and we went to the Chinese restaurant for dinner this time.  The food was more along the lines of what I am accustomed to in Vancouver. I mean… in the middle of China are you going to go looking for a good hamburger or some serious Chinese food?

That’s all for Monday… perhaps I’ll keep getting caught up as I go along.

Thanks for reading!

Spending time in China

21 09 2008

I’m in China again for work.  I arrived here back on Sunday.  The next few posts will be a bit of a journal.


I flew out on AC029 on Saturday.  I particularly chose that flight as Air Canada has put seat back Video on Demand and seat back power into some of their planes and AC029 was one of those planes.  The plane was about 50% full only so I ended up with an aisle seat next to an empty window seat.  Perfect.  I turned the little area into my own little space.  I had my laptop set up on the tray next to me, while being able to eat and view video on my own tray/seat.  The flight was about 11 hours to get to Beijing.  During that time I watched “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” and “88 minutes”.  Both movies were quite good.  The earphones I had brought for listening, unfortunately, had one not working.  It turned out alright as I let my head rest on the right side with the earbud in my left ear.  Sort of half listening/half sleeping.

I arrived in Beijing at the International arrivals.  They shuttle you to your luggage via a train.  Once there, I picked up my bags and cleared customs, happy that I had no visa grief.  My next challenge was to find my way to the domestic terminal and get checked into my flight with China East Airlines to Lanzhou.   The airport staff were very helpful and professional, directing me to my shuttle bus.  The bus ride over to the domestic terminal actually took about 10-15 minutes – I’m glad I wasn’t trying to connect to a tight flight connection!  I got to the check in desk for China Eastern and felt a bit comfortable as I recognized it from when we traveled from Beijing to HK a couple of years ago.  Finally, something recognizable.  First roadblock… English at the counter.  I wanted to know if my colleague had checked in yet.  I asked in English and was met with a blank stare and a bunch of Mandarin.  She did, however find a coworker who could help me and we determined that he checked in and that I could get a seat next to him – Good.  I walked down through security and was grilled a bit about my name (go figure) and then let pass. It was weird.  Upon making my way to the lounge, it was pretty obvious who my Australian colleague was…. the BIG white guy.  He stands 6’4” tall.  Hard to miss in a crowd of Asians.

The flight from Beijing to Lanzhou was VERY bumpy.  I think we had turbulence for about 90% of the trip.  This compounded the fact that China Eastern doesn’t exactly have much leg room – nothing like being strapped in and not able to stretch out.  We arrived a bit early (perhaps it was a tail wind that made it so bumpy?) at 1930 and our Lanzhou colleague was there to meet us.  We grabbed a cab and headed into the hotel on a ride that would take about an hour and take us through mountains, along deserted expressways and onto bumpy roads under construction that made you long for the turbulence of the plane.   

Upon arrival at the hotel, we got our rooms and settled the deposit.  They wanted a small fortune for a deposit.  Almost CAD1000 preauth on a credit card.  We settled into our rooms and went down to the Chinese restaurant for dinner.  No love.  It was closed already.  We headed down to the cafe and had a very tasty curried beef… We were tired… Off to bed.

The Poker Game

20 09 2008

A common sidewalk activity for the senior men is playing poker using a chinese domino deck of cards.  While it may be a bit intense, it certainly becomes a group affair pretty quickly with everyone pitching in ideas as to what the players should have done.

Here’s a game that I felt had some real characters playing

Lanzhou Market Photos

20 09 2008

My apologies to those of you with a slow link, but there’s not to much to write about day to day (I’ll probably come up with some sort of summary though)  I carry my camera around whenever I go walking with the hope that I’ll keep catching the day to day life in Lanzhou.

Chestnuts roasting at the market

An old lady selling apples along the road – she gratefully posed for me

Sidewalk poker game (you can see the curiosity of the two guys in the very back – wondering why two white guys would be photographing a card game)

Squash vendor picking a good one for his client

After seeing me shoot the squash vendor, this watermelon vendor was more than happy to pose with his wares

This tofu vendor was encouraged to smile by the other vendors around him.  He was shy at first but then opened up with a big bright smile

Farmer negotiating prices with a prospective client


My entire Lanzhou photo album can be seen at: http://www.fotothing.com/albums.php?action=viewphotos&albumid=3111


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Pop Quiz

19 09 2008

What country has 2 bills with the same number on them that have different values?




Give up?  China! 


I went to one of the local bakery stands tonight to buy some buns for tomorrow.  The four buns came to 4RMB, so I took out a 5 and  handed it to the girl.  She wouldn’t take it.  I pushed it forward again… still no action.  Then I turn to my colleague who is with me and he says,

“You are offering her 50 cents.”

Ouch!!! I turn red and apologize profusely while fumbling for my 5RMB note.

The 50 cent bill and the 5 RMB bill both have 5 as the number on them.  The 50 cent one is smaller. 

Hopefully this will help someone out there avoid the embarrassment I just had .

You may continue with your regular scheduled programming….  😉


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Some Pictures from Lanzhou

16 09 2008

I’m in Lanzhou China for work for a couple of weeks.  It’s a very interesting city.


Here are some pics from my first couple of days in town:

The view from my hotel room

Chilies drying on the line near where I work

I’m always fascinated by the creative ways people find to transport things here

Some delicious sichuan style pork ribs that we had for lunch at a local restaurant

My colleague, me and the restaurant owner

The last picture has an interesting story…  We came into the restaurant to eat lunch and since the owner saw me with my camera, he wanted a picture with us… what the heck…sure.  We took the picture and then continued with lunch.  After lunch I went to pay the bill and he indicates that there is no charge…  So, I guess my photography skills are paying off finally 🙂

Cheers from Lanzhou!

Lanzhou, China

14 07 2008

My work is sending me to Lanzhou China in a couple of weeks.  I’ve never been there, but have been reading up what I can.  If any of you gentle readers have "been there, done that, bought the T-shirt" I’d appreciate any suggestions you might have for things to do, things to watch out for, and the good, the bad and the ugly.

I’m going to be bringing my camera with me.  Do you think I risk losing my 100-400 (to theft) if bring it with me?

I’m a little concerned because the city is so much further north that my little Cantonese knowledge will be useless.  It’s going to be a LOT of hand waving and pointing.  I don’t like not being able to communicate.

Thoughts and ideas welcomed!


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Lesson for the day

15 03 2007

Lesson for the day:

When you have a 6 bay RAID unit and one drive goes out, you have a problem.

When you remove that drive and then another 2 drives go out you have a VERY, VERY long night.


5 disk RAID 5 can’t survive with only 3 drives 😦

And so goes my night……

Blog down/no updates from HK Trip

28 02 2007

Some days you just can’t seem to win.  Technology has conspired against me.

First, my blog site was down for almost 2 weeks after I got home.  Tough to update the blog 😦

Second, I went to sync my HP IPaq 4150 with my new laptop, and “Poof!” there go all my nice point form notes that I took every day while we travelled.  Gone.

It seems that the last 12 days of my trip may never get published.

Too bad really – they were a fun time.


Did I mention that some days you just can’t seem to win?

Hong Kong – January 27, 2007

6 02 2007

2007-01-27 (Saturday)

It was wedding day today!  It meant I finally got to wear the dress shoes and new pants that I’ve been packing around for the last two weeks.  I got up at around 0800 and prepared to go.  My brother in-law from Guangzhou and his wife were staying at the apartment as well so we took a taxi down to Tsim Tsa Tsui where the wedding would be.  The wedding was being held in a small chapel which was part of a “Wedding Store” for lack of a better word.  It seems that HK has gone Vegas.  You get 30 minutes in the chapel and then you better clear out since the next couple is booked.  Quite the operation.

They had a lot of guests so the little chapel area was quite full, making it hard to get good photos.  The ceremony was brief and simple but quite nice. The one little hitch that had people giggling was that they had to wait for the ceremony next door to finish with the fancy signing pen so that they could use it at our ceremony.  We went out to the “walk of stars” area for pictures.  The bride was in a beautiful slim white dress with silver sequins at the back on the lower part, accenting the fall lines of dress beautifully.  On her shoulders she wore a white faux fur stoll that complimented her long black hair.  The groom was in a classic tuxedo with a white necktie.  Looking very sharp.  We posed for various pictures of collections of people with the bride and groom and I managed to get a few good pictures as well.

From the wedding we headed into a minibus (actually a school bus) and went over to the reception location.  We were on the 12th floor (I think) of a building right next to the old airport, and in some sort of private club.  The room  was large for the size of the wedding, I thought,but it is common with Chinese weddings that many people don’t come to the ceremony but come to the reception.  There were about 18 tables.  The bride and the groom arrived without fanfare and we were treated to a slide show of their lives apart as kids and together more recently.  They made brief thank you speeches and then we all got down to eating.  Lunch was a sumptuous spread of Western and chinese foods.  The buffet table was the length of 8 tables probably!  There was so much good food and good conversation.  The bride and groom came around and we toasted them.  We continued eating and chatting for some time.

When we could eat no more we were informed it was time to head off on the minibus again.  This time we were going on a little tour.  First stop: the temple.  It is customary in times of celebration to go the temple and pay respect to your ancestors, so the family presented gifts of food for the temple and incense for their grandfather.  The temple is building a new, modern worship hall so we went up to see it.  It was bright!  A real oddity for a Buddhist temple from what I have seen.  They wouldn’t allow any photographs so I couldn’t get a great shot of one of the workers cleaning the large central Buddha.  He was using a big feather duster, and it looked like he was tickling him under the nose.  Since the construction was ongoing, you could see that the Buddhas had been brought in segments and reassembled in the hall.  They would soon be gilded, leaving no sign of this earlier segmentation.  The temple has been a long time building, as are most buildings that are built using donations.

Aside:  What is it with Buddhist temples and photography?  Why won’t they let me take pictures?  Some say “because of the flash”.  But when I tell them that I will take the picture without a flash they still say “No.”  Christian Churches, Muslim mosques have all be very accommodating.  Why not Buddhists?

From the temple we continued on our tour and headed to the north end of the New Territories where across the short strait you could see mainland China.  The area was known in the older days for its large scale oyster farming and more than a few mainland chinese that slipped across the border.  These days it’s a busy little network of winding roads linking various container yards and small villages.  We drove past the bridge that is under construction which will create a fast link to Zuhai and Zhongshan in the future.  It’s a massive project.  We passed a couple of small “pay to fish” ponds.  The ponds were concrete ponds that were about 40x100ft and had people sitting on stools under sun umbrellas fishing away.  It would appear that they pay by the pound for fish caught as there was a scale set up near the entrance/exit.  Interesting, but not my type of fishing.  We continued along the road until we got to points where we had to keep backing up to allow traffic to pass.  It really felt like we might be going the wrong way.  Obviously the primary flow of traffic was the other way so we turned the bus around and headed out.  We stopped at the “wishing Tree”   These days you can’t throw wishes onto the tree since a couple of years ago a major branch broke under the weight of the “wishes”. 

We got back to TST around 1700 which left us an hour to do some shopping and what have you.  Mrs D and I headed up to the McDonalds to get a quick drink.  This was the ONLY time I have been to a McD’s outside of North America.  I see no reason to eat there when there is always good local food.  At 1800 we headed up for dinner.  You could tell it was going to be a classic “10 course” meal.  After lunch I had been thinking I wouldn’t have to eat for another week… never mind that NIgHT!

Chinese restaurants almost all have “private rooms” where you can dine without the noise of all the other people around.  When you get a private room, you get your own washroom, and usually at least one waiter/waitress stays in the room the whole time, refilling tea/beer etc.  We had one of these rooms and there were two tables set.  The food was exquisite and classic Cantonese styles.  It certainly left me ready to roll home!  When we were done Mrs D and I caught a taxi with her brother and his wife back to the apartment in Aberdeen.  We got home and before Mrs D could even unpack she was packing again.  This time in preparation for our three day trip to Zhongshan.  We had to get to bed.  I had a feeling it was going to be a long day on the 28th.

Guangzhou – January 25, 2007

4 02 2007

2007-01-25 (Thursday)

Man it was tough to wake up!  Nothing to do with the tequila, just too many late, late nights!  I bumped into the Sergio and Efrain (the two Mexican guys) at breakfast, and rethanked them for the the excellent time and tequila.  As a group the 8 of them made the last days of my hotel stay much more enjoyable.  I don’t know what I would have done if they hadn’t come along.  (Probably had more sleep and less booze?)

I spent Thursday (my last full day at work) organizing and taking pictures of EVERYTHING I had done so that when a support call comes later, we can refer to a picture of how it looks to direct staff to particular hardware more easily.  I created a few simple scenarios for my “tech contact” to troubleshoot, and although she was a bit reluctant to start looking deeper into the problems at first, by the end of the mock exercise she was much more confident in her problem solving abilities.  I made sure all the staff had all their access set up correctly, and that they wouldn’t have any surprises after I left.  The last couple of hours were spent mentally going over and over what I had done, and whether I had missed any little thing.  I was sure I had it all worked out.  At the end of the work day, told them all to go home and think really hard about ANY computer questions they had.  I was going to be leaving the next day, so they had better get them asked in the morning!

I got back to the hotel and settled in for some photo uploads and headed down to the lounge.  I went with the Curry beef on rice again as it was pretty good and wasn’t too expensive.  The band had started playing so I sat back and listened to them roll through their tunes.  The usual set.  It was sort of sad to think that I wasn’t going to hear them again after that evening.  I listened to them play until about 2200 but had to get up to my room to tidy up, and get ready to leave the next morning.  At the end of their last set before I left they played “Hotel California” for me again.  Nice ending.  I said my goodbyes to them, and headed up to my room, with a promise to send them the pictures that I had taken a couple of nights before.

Up in the room, I started packing and double checking to make sure everything was there and that I wasn’t leaving any unintended gifts behind.  When I travel, I like to keep everything in my suitcase since it helps me to keep from losing things.  It was pretty easy making sure it was all still together.  It was an earlier night to sleep since I was going to wake up earlier to get checked out before the van showed up. I went to sleep with an uneasy, nervous feeling, as I often do at the end of a trip – wondering if I’d forgotten something, something key that I needed to do at work still.  Only time would tell.

Guangzhou – January 24, 2007

3 02 2007

2007-01-24 (Wednesday)

With work winding down the days were getting easier.  I had definitely fallen into my routine, and with the exception of having to get up only 6 hours after drinking so much beer, life was pretty good.  I was starting to get the feeling I might have a small heart attack from having bacon and eggs every morning but I seemed to be staying alive.   They have two televisions in the restaurant at the hotel.  Each day it seemed a bit of a random crap shoot as to what you might get to watch.  Some mornings it seemed to be some sort of video game(?).  Many mornings it was the news in Chinese or English.  On this morning it was a Chinese boy band singing some tune which you could vote on (it would appear). This, by itself, wouldn’t have been bad except for the fact that they kept playing the same song OVER and OVER and OVER… I don’t know why, but it was driving me, and a few others crazy.  I grabbed the bull by the horns and after a quick query to the waitress, we were back to watching Chinese news.  WAY better than the boy band thing!

I went out after work for dinner to the local restaurant where previously I had gone 50-50 on the food.  This time, though, I was armed with two of my colleagues.  We ordered food based on what the menu said it was, rather than just the pictures – WAY easier to get what you want this way!  We had good time, and good food.  I know it’s expensive for these guys to eat out all the time, so I’m glad I could cover dinner at least one time.  We walked back to the hotel from the restaurant, and passed a couple of places that looked like they might be coffee/dessert shops.  My friend asked.  They were “hostess bars”.  No need to drink alone.  “I love you long time” kind of place.  Ah… modern China!  We decided to pass up on the “opportunity” since all three of us are HAPPILY married 🙂  Back at the hotel, I said my good night to the guys and got my laptop setup in my hotel room to start transferring the files that Vancouver was going to have for me, and pictures which I had.

Down to the lounge around 2100 for my evening dose of entertainment.  The guys from Nissan showed up again and next thing you know the night begins to slip away again.  As this was the last night that all the Nissan guys were going to be in town, the two guys from Mexico brought down some premium high end tequila.  2 26oz bottles!  The 9 of us managed to polish them off in about 30 minutes.  This was super smooth, and could be compared to a good 15+ year old Scotch.  You don’t get this kind of quality when you do “shooters at the bar” 🙂  Unlike North American bars, the staff were very accommodating to our need for lemons and salt, and didn’t mind at all that we brought in our own alcohol.  They knew it was just part of the big picture and that we weren’t going to be ignoring their supply of beer and Chivas for long 🙂

After a while we even had a few of them, and somehow me, up singing with the band for a few songs.  I’m sure the OTHER patrons just loved it (Why WERE they holding their ears?).  While the bar closed at 2400, the staff continued to serve, and attend to us until we finally let them go at about 0130.  Another late night.  I was really afraid of the morning after having had the tequila. The last time wasn’t pretty (Darren!).  I wished them all a good flight, and exchanged some business cards for later contact.  We all headed off to our rooms.

I got up to my room, and handled a few emails, and sleep came easy at about 0215.

Guangzhou – January 23, 2007

1 02 2007

2007-01-23 (Tuesday)

Not much happening today. Work went well.  AFter being dropped off, I headed up to my room and began my usual routine of getting my laptop up and connected.  The ‘net had been much more solid since Thursday last week, but I still couldn’t get an Outlook connection through the VPN.  It only required one or two retries to get websites that weren’t Chinese.  I transferred my photos from my camera to the laptop, and let Foldershare start synchronizing them with my home and a PC at work.  (I’m a bit paranoid about losing photos)

I decided to head back out to the Sichuan place for dinner that I had been to a week ago.  This time things went much more smoothly.  I think I may have had the same waitress 🙂  I ordered my pork ribs again.  You just can’t beat those ribs!  It was a good meal and as usual, for less than $10, I left full and happy (albeit with a slightly peppered mouth LOL!).

Having finished dinner,I figured I’d head back to the bar and listen to the band for the evening.  The guys from Nissan were down there again. This time with the big boss from Japan.  I joined up with them again, and there was a LOT of alcohol flowing.  It was nice to have a group of people with whom to spend the evening.  Much better than sitting in the bar alone, listening to the band and watching repeats of English premier league matches.  One of the guys started into the Chivas, and ordered a glass.  The bartender had poured about 3 fingers in the small glass with ice.  The next time, he asked to have no ice.  Surpisingly the bartender poured 3 fingers again, this time with NO ice.  Needless to say, there was no ice in any of the following drinks.  I figured it would be better for my workday on Wednesday if I stuck with beer. We sat and talked and drank until about 0100, and it was refreshing to see a Japanese top level manager spend time with his lower managers and solicit opinions.  Definitely an insightful view into Nissan that night.  I called the girl over to wrap up my tab, and found that it had been rolled into theirs again.   Again the Nissan guys paid!  We all rolled back to our rooms.  Once back at the room, I could check my email, make some phone calls, and make sure the support items back in Vancouver had been, or would soon be implemented.  I went to sleep around 0200, wondering if I was going to pay for the late night at the bar on Wednesday.

Guangzhou – January 22, 2007

1 02 2007

2007-01-22 – Monday
Things have become much more routine for me.  Work has settled down to putting out small spot fires (right on time) and my daily hotel and dinner routine is pretty much the same.  On Monday I had dinner with my Vancouver colleague, and the two guys from the office.  We went to a little restaurant which was pretty close to my hotel and had some very good food…

The meal consisted of the following:

spare ribs in a black bean sauce
barbeque goose
stir fry coy sum with garlic
preserved beans with minced pork
beef cooked in a pot of water (laden with chilies)
green pepper stuffed with pork in black bean sauce.

The food was all quite delicious.  We supplemented dinner a few cold beers and some nasty wheat based Chinese alcohol called “Chu God Leung” or similar.  That stuff sort of gently ripped the layers of your throat off, much as paint thinner might, but more so.  Niiice.

Tonight, dinner for the guys was on the company.  They had put up with a lot from me over the past week, it was the least I could do.

We had a good time, but we didn’t want to stay out too late as they needed to head back to their apartments and deal with their evening tasks. I said good night to them at the hotel where they grabbed a cab to head back to the complex of little apartments that’s located within the industrial park where our office is housed.

I went into the hotel, and put my bags back in the room, and headed down to listen to the band and have a couple of beer to help “counter the jet lag” (that’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it).

While down at the bar, I met a group of Quality directors from Nissan’s various worldwide operations. They were from Spain, England, Mexico, France and Japan.  A really friendly bunch of guys.  We chatted and drank until about 2330 that night, and it was DEFINITELY going to be easy to sleep.

When I got up to my room there was a googlechat message from my sister.  It appeared to be quite important.  After some fiddling around with Google Chat and my headset, we made a very strong connection on Google Chat.  That was good, because you definitely wanted a good clear line to make sure you heard the news correctly.  My Grampa passed away! 😦  (There are way to many cool things to say about my grampa, so I’ll put it in a separate post) Grampa had just turned 97 a week or so ago and, to those of us that couldn’t see him nearly often enough, it seemed like he was easily going to crack 100.  That sucks.  It really felt like the proverbial punch to the gut to hear it.  On top of that, I wasn’t going to be able to make it back for the funeral or anything.  Damn.

I laid down after getting the news and was in disbelief for a while, and then just plain unhappy, finally sleeping.

(edit – I realize that this news probably wasn’t on Monday now, but the time has been blurred a bit.  I think it might have been Saturday.  No matter.  It SUCKS.)

Guangzhou – January 21, 2007

24 01 2007

2007-01-21 Sunday

Sunday was a rainy dull day, which sucked.  I had planned to go out and shoot some photos of the wild and wacky traffic, but the rain put a damper on that.  It looked to be about 9C out at best.  Sigh. 

After debating with my stomach whether the hamburger last night was good or not, my insides settled.  (Mental note – hamburgers come with fresh lettuce and tomatoes, as well as ground beef… DO NOT eat them when travelling). I wandered down from my room around 1000 to go for breakfast, and I noticed that the Chinese restaurant was serving Dim Sum.  Sweet!!  I went over that way to have my breakfast.  Communication fun was the name of the game again. 

I approached the restaurant and asked for a table for 1 in my usual Cantonese.  She looks and me and says… “No.” and points to the Western Restaurant. 
I shake my head and indicate I want to eat HERE. 
She, with a broken english points over at the other restaurant and says “Western”. 
I point to this restaurant and say “Yum Cha, Dim Sum”.  and it appears that with a bit more hand waving that I finally convince them that YES, I want to eat here.  I think it is because the Western Buffet can be included in your room, and most western travellers just do that.  Since we had the screw up at the beginning, I’ve been signing for each breakfast, so I can go here, and not worry about the fact that I’m going to get charged for the other as well.
I get my little table, and the waitress comes up and says “What kind Tea?” 
“Sao Mei”
Obviously taken aback by my mastery of the Cantonese language she smiles and says what I imagine is “Your Chinese is very good”.  (Or – “Hey – stop butchering our language”.. I can’t be sure).  Alas, no Sao Mei.
“Bo Lei?”
Yes, and off she goes.  Good thing, as I was running out of tea names that I knew 🙂
Around comes the dim sum cart, and I start looking.  Great – recognize everything.
I order the beef balls, spareribs, haw gau, and ham soy gaw.  All in Cantonese!   That really got them buzzing, you could see one talking to another about this… Quite the treat I must be.  Nice to know that I can provide some entertainment value for the local population.

The dim sum dishes were smaller than Vancouver, which is good, as it allowed me to sample more types.  When I finished, I asked for my bill.  It came to about 24 or 30 RMB.  I indicated I wanted to sign for it (as I was billing all my breakfasts to the room and wanted to remain consistent).  Fatal flaw.

Waitress talks to hostess, hostess talks to manager, manager talks to other manager, manager then comes back and talks to hostess, hostess talks to waitress.  Waitress comes back to my table asks for my room card.  I had her my card key.  Waitress goes away, comes back quickly, “No sir, room card.  This is room KEY.”
“It’s all I’ve got.”, I say.  Previous scenario replays, and now followed by waitress runs down to the first floor to talk to the front desk.  Much paperwork ensues, waitress runs (and I mean runs…she’s trying hard not to hold me up) up the stairs, and talks to hostess, hostess comes over, and presents me with the bill to sign.  Wow.  What a production!  You’d NORMALLY think that a hotel would be designed to take your money quickly with the swipe of your pen. Not so much. I think that in order to combat fraud, they have put some pretty elaborate steps in place to ensure the identity of whomever is actually signing.

After breakfast, I grabbed my camera and planned to head out.  I got out the door, and said “Nope, not gonna happen.  Too cold and wet.” I didn’t pack a shell with me on this trip since last year it just sat around useless.  This year I kind of miss it.  I realized that I am relegated to staying in the hotel for the day.  I decided to see if there was any more life on the 3rd floor that I had previously found to be largely vacant.  It was largely vacant, but there were some couches that you could sit on, and watch the world go by in the lobby below (3 floor high open lobby).  I took a few pictures and sat with my laptop, and wrote up the missing days in the blog.  It seemed like it might be OK after all.  A down day now and then is a good way to recharge.

I skipped lunch, as I had been pretty full from the Dim Sum.  I decided to hang in my room for a bit.  I put on the headphones and cranked some tunes.  I drifted in and out of a nice restful sleep for about 3 hours.  Around 2pm, I began to hear a relentless pounding (like a 20lb sledge being dropped on the concrete floor above), with a frequency of the pile drivers you hear down by the water front sometimes.  Thump, Thump, Thump….  Uggh.  I dragged my laptop with me and headed down to the lounge.  At least it was away from the noise.  I ordered a Bailey’s coffee, and settled into writing up the blogs and listening to some laptop tunes in the back corner (away from the VERY cold lobby area with its wide open doors).

While I was sitting there, some harried looking fellow comes in and orders a scotch.  He looks frazzled, and somehow when he sees me (another westerner) he starts talking.  And doesn’t stop, really.  Nice guy, doing some wicked 9 cities in 3 weeks visit to all his company suppliers.  Ouch. We talk for a while, and he heads off.

I can’t remember what dinner was on Sunday, but it certainly WASN’T the hamburger this time 🙂  It was a quiet night, and I think I headed back up to my room around 2200 after enjoying the serenading tunes of the band.  Only one more week of work left (4 days or so really)  I felt a slight flutter when I thought about that.  Excitement about finishing?  Nerves?  I dunno.  Monday should prove to be interesting.

Guangzhou – January 20, 2007

21 01 2007

2007-01-20 (Saturday.  Hellooooo Weekend!)

It was luxury time on Saturday – I got to sleep in.  The van wasn’t coming by until 1000 to pick me up!  One of my colleagues had been “volunteered” to show me around today, and of course we had the van driver too.

It was nice to have the paper being delivered to my room, since I wasn’t getting my news from other sources, it was as if I was getting a morning paper if I just ignored it until breakfast.  Down at breakfast I enjoyed a relaxing meal, while reading the paper.  It had a supplement about the upcoming Olympics.  Interesting to see the progress and excitement from a Chinese standpoint.  When I finished, I went down to wait for the van.  It was COLD.  Back up to the room and a mental thank you to my wife for making sure I packed the long sleeved fleece. (Love ya dear!)  With my warm fleece on, I was ready to head out.  I got back downstairs just in time for the van.  Excellent.

I got in the van and found out that it was raining in GZ proper.  Hmmm.  That didn’t bode well.  We headed out to a family shrine (similar in concept to the Chu shrine on Cheng Chau, but MUCH larger)  IT was built in  1863, and reflected the architectural style of the time.  A lot of grey brick construction.  Being winter, it was pretty quiet, and I think there MAY have been a couple of other people there, but I can’t be sure.  There was quite a bit of construction and renovation ongoing, so it would appear that they are probably sprucing it up for the summer.  It was an interesting place.  The second place we went to was a large Taoist temple (actually 3 temples in one) at Yuanxuan(sp?).  It was really large, and had similar styling to Tian Tan, with circular temples rather than the classic Buddhist square ones.  They had an expansive grounds, and everything was very nicely kept.  I learned that similar to the Buddhist concept of the Kings of heaven, they have 40 “Kings” (protectors) which each have a year associated with them.  I took some pics of my guy, and Mrs D’s.  It had rained pretty consistently since the first place we visited, and this really put a damper in the quality of some of the pictures that were available 😦  The circular ceilings inside the temples, however did give up at least one beautiful Yin and Yang picture.  It was very pretty, and I was certainly disappointed by the fact that it just kept raining.

After these two visits, it was lunch time.  We headed down to downtown and met up with the Lab manager.  We were going for Hunan food!  We ended up at a restaurant called “Maojia Restaurant”, translating to “Mao’s Restaurant”.  The lab manager ordered the food while consulting us.  I said “Order whatever you want.. I’ll give it a try.” 
We had Frog in chilies, turtle soup, bamboo shoots, and sweet potato “vermicelli-like” noodles.  It was (of course) quite spicy.  It was also VERY good. I put aside my whole amphibian prejudice, and just enjoyed the food as “food”.  It was good.  We had some local beer, Zhu Liang (which is what I’ve been drinking at the hotel too).  The beer is all quite light, and goes down well when your mouth is on fire. 🙂  I suppose it was a nice change for our van driver to be able to join us for lunch too.

Our last stop after lunch was the Chen Clan Academy, aka Chen Ancestal Hall which had since been turned into an art gallery for local art done in the ancient styles.  There were beautiful “paintings” done with wood and rocks, and pasted as a collage.  Beautiful 3D relief effect.  Photos just COULDN’T capture it.   They had some really nice stone carvings, and clay sculptures, all done recently in the style of years past.  There were etched glass pictures, which apparently are etched using Hydrofluoric acid – YIKES!  Very pretty etched glass windows.  The one thing that caught me by surprise was that they also had ivory carvings.  RECENT ivory carvings 😦  There were beautiful, intricate carvings of 30 layered balls carved from the ivory, and tusks that had entire stories and carved onto them using 3D people. VERY cool, but…  Of course we all know that the Ivory trade is banned internationally due to the rather fatal effect it has on elephants.  Depressingly this doesn’t appear to be the fact in China.  You could even buy some pieces, and there was a reminder that it would not likely be importable into your home country due to the ban in ivory trade world wide.   While I understand the desire to keep alive the old traditions, some things need to become memories, for the good of our planet.

When we had finished visiting the gallery,  my colleague was going to head out and visit a friend, and I was headed back to the hotel.  It was a long drive back to the hotel. Probably 40 minutes or so.  kind of awkward sitting in the van with the driver, as he doesn’t know any English.   Got back home, and transferred photos and got some uploaded (taking advantage of an actually responsive Internet for a change).  I figured I’d try the hamburger down in the bar for dinner that night.   I got down around 1830, and settled in to the tunes of the band and a beer.  It was COLD down there.  The girls must have been freezing in their sleeveless outfits.  I had the burger.  It was quite good, and cost about $6CAD.  Bed time came early that night.  It had been a long day, so I headed up to my room around 2100, and fell asleep watching some movie.   Woke up briefly at about 0200 and turned off the lights and TV 🙂  Back to sleep.   Nothing planned for Sunday, so I figured I’d go out on Sunday and wander a bit during the day to take pictures of the crazy traffic.  g’nite.

Guangzhou – January 19, 207

21 01 2007

2007-01-19 (Friday)

Almost everything is working at work now – as it should be.  The next week will simply be making sure everything continues to work while actual people start using them.  Of course I ran into one small snag. One of the main pieces of equipment started giving me some grief.  I contacted their support office, and had a reply pretty quickly as soon as their Friday began.  Monday will be the test of whether I can get THAT working or not.  Coming out of work, with the increased clouds and the usual haze, there was a beautiful sunset

It had been a long week.  I’d had challenges that I never thought I would have had, and I’d successes where I thought I might have failure.  Work has gone well, and the whole “Go out to random restaurants” idea hadn’t resulted in food poisoning or being robbed, so clearly I was doing well.  Tonight I decided to actually try the hotel restaurant (Chinese).

I headed down to the restaurant and found that it’s not so busy at night.  As a matter of fact there was me, and one other table at the other end.  There, of course, were about 6 people waiting to serve you.  I sat down at a nice table by the window and had a great view of the fountain outside, and the little light and water show that it puts on.  – ASIDE – Chinese people must come to restaurants knowing what they want to have. – END ASIDE –  As I was seated by the hostess, a waitress approached and handed me the menu.  It was quite comprehensive, and it was bilingual.  Wow.  (This place could also use some help with their translation services).  There were big dishes of Shark’s fin soup for large sums (relatively) of cash.  There were all kinds of “specialty” items that seemed to mostly be parts of animals that don’t make it on most Western restaurant menus.  There were a couple of pages of text only in Chinese (hmmm… what ARE they hiding from me!). I settled on some “Century Seafood”.  It looked safe.  I had that and a bowl of steamed rice.  It was very good.  Basically seafood in light ginger sauce.  It certainly wasn’t as big as the dishes I had been getting outside the hotel, but it was a good size for one.  If I recall, the price was about 38RMB.

After dinner I went up and grabbed my camera and tripod to head out and take pictures of the fountain.  It was pretty successful.  Nice long exposures made for some beautiful silky flowing water pictures.  I’ve put the picture on my fotothing blog, will try to remember to attach it into this blog posting.  (Brutal network connectivity still to North America

I went up to my room and took the photos off my camera and got them transferring back to home.  I also managed to post a couple up to fotothing. 

The evening was the usual routine of down to the lounge to listen to the band, and hang out.  I chatted with the 3 guys from Canada for a while (they seem to be in a higher income bracket than me – no local restaurants for them)  Around 2400 I called it a night.  Back at the room I called Vancouver and explained my problems with my piece of equipment.  I got a “Good luck with that!”. Thanks Derrick!  About 0100 – time to sleep, we were going to be doing some touring of GZ the next day.

Guangzhou – January 18, 2007

20 01 2007

2007-01-18 (Thursday)

My morning routine has become a bit better. I have found that having a few beers down at the lounge before going to bed really helps cut the 0400 jet lag wake up 🙂  (Although it probably isn’t helping my waistline).  I’ve got the timing down so that I now don’t waste quite as much time hanging out looking hopeless in the lobby in the morning.  My Western restaurant hostess and waitresses have come to know me (by “Sir” of course), but they are more willing to try to strike up a conversation now (albeit with their weak English and my non-existent Mandarin a very LIMITED conversation). The Van pool seems to be arriving a bit earlier now, closer to 0830.  That’s good, it gives me a bit more time each day to try and get things working “just so”.  I don’t recall if I mentioned the drive to work is about 10 minutes if traffic is good, and 20 if it’s bad.  We haven’t really run into a “traffic jam” yet, and everyone seems content to simply weave in and out among the different lanes (like driving the 401 on crack).  We’ve come within millimetres of trading paint with buses, trucks and cars at different times.   I try to just ignore it, and talk to my colleagues on the drive.

At work we had fun.  I got some PC’s online and shortly after we lost power to half the building.  It was a nice (even if it was unplanned) test of my UPS for the servers.   After much testing, the electrician was blaming my UPS.  I said “My money is on the building wiring”.   By the end of the day I won that bet 🙂  All ended well, and I got most of the staff using their new PC’s and the applications that they would be using to connect with the central server.  Things were actually working well!

Lunch was better today.  If you leave a bit earlier, you get there and get HOT food 🙂 

When I got dropped off at the hotel that night, it was abuzz with activity.  There were many cars (nicer than the usual cars) and a couple of “tour buses” parked around the entrance.  As usual, once the van stopped the bellhop and bellgirl(?) jumped out and opened almost every door.  I got out and went to the front door.  As I entered the front door, I found myself on the “red carpet”, with more than a couple of eyes looking at me.  I smiled nervously and scuttled back to the elevator to get to my room.

Once back at my room, I set up the laptop to start syncing email and files.  I headed back downstairs to figure out what to do for dinner.  I ran into “Bodie”, one of the floor managers.  I asked him the usual question – “Where do you recommend I go eat dinner”? 
He was in the midst of directing me to the western restaurant I had just tried the other night, when I stopped him and said, “Local, Chinese food.”
I got directions to a local place from him, and I was afraid that I wouldn’t find it. It sounded a bit complicated to get there.
I went on my way, and found the place.  It was definitely a “local” restaurant.  Most of the vehicles parked in front were scooters, and there was a more normal 1 waitress to 20 guests ratio, and they were running off their feet.  The joint “Excellent.”, I thought to myself,  “Another restaurant that doesn’t have a lot of caucasian clients.  This’ll be fun.”

Through my broken cantonese I manage to get my table for one, and then proceed to look at the pretty pictures on the menu.  I picked two dishes that I thought would be good, with the idea of supplementing the somewhat bland lunch the next day.  My waitress looked at me with great confusion when I ordered from the pictures and I later found out that she was asking me, “What ever?”  because I certainly didn’t order with any kind of real conviction.  A little later she comes back and explains that one of the dishes I ordered isn’t available… what are the odds?  So, I order a different picture.

My dishes showed up, and I performed the customary dish washing and settled in to sip on my hot water and watch the locals while they watched me.  It was interesting to watch people get their scooters parked and see all the little compartments.  One for your helmet, one for your bags and coat.  Quite the spacious little bikes.  There were guys offering “scooter taxi rides” to people and the customers that rode, would don these little “helmets” that looked like cheap batters helmets and highly unlikely to save you in the event of the highly LIKELY forthcoming accident.  Off they would zoom into the night to continue their nocturnal adventures.

Food appeared fairly promptly. One dish was beef slices with a long green vegetable with a skin texture similar to green peppers.  The sauce was spicy, and it was quite good.  My second dish followed along behind that.  It seemd to be little rubbery pieces of meat sliced.  The shape of the slice really had me thinking “Chicken hearts” or something along those lines.  The vote on this dish… 2 thumbs down.  Oh well 50-50.  Not bad, but I wouldn’t be supplementing lunch with that 🙂

After dinner I went for a bit more of a walk, over to an area of a street which was closed to traffic, so it was a pedestrian mall.  There were little stalls set up along the length of about 4 blocks, ala Mong Kok, but the only items being sold were clothing.  Lot’s of it.  A lot of it crap.  I saw a pair of “NIKN” sweat pants, that I was tempted to buy, if only for the horrible job of trying to avoid Copyright. (Cause the “Swoosh” underneath didn’t make that too obvious)  It was an interesting walk, and interesting to see many of the vendors just hanging out playing cards together until a customer walked into their booth.  Pretty laid back… Way different from other stores in China where the salespeople practically try to drag you in 🙂  It was good to get out and stretch my legs, but I figured I should probably head back to the hotel.

On the way back to the hotel, I passed a little corner store.  I stopped in and grabbed a couple bottles of Coke (500ml = 3RMB), and my bill came to 6RMB.  Unfortunately all I had was 100RMB on me at the time, and the clerk didn’t look too happy about giving up most of his change.  He did though, and I was now the proud owner of a small stack of Chinese small value bills.  Lucky me.  One odd thing about my Coke.  I took it from the fridge, only to realize that the fridge is actually being used as just a cupboard with glass.  Warm Coke.  Won’t be drinking that as I walk 🙂

Back at the hotel, I ran into Bodie again and he asked how dinner was. I explained my 50-50 result, and told him I was glad he directed me there.  It was fun to eat locally.  I asked him what the big gala at the hotel was about.  He explained that Nissan was having a big “Do” and that there were Chinese celebrities here.  He pointed out one walking out the door, and rattled off a name (no idea) and also pointed out that she was quite good looking.  That was an easy statement with which to agree.  We both laughed.  I headed up to my room to start cooling my Coke, and then went back down to the lobby bar to have a couple of drinks before bed.

Through the girls in the band, I learned that the table next to me was a group of Canadians as well.  Small world.  They were in from Windsor and were marketing tools to companies here.  It was nice to be able to carry on conversations without hand waving and trying to explain myself. 🙂   Headed off to bed around 2300, and slept well.

Guangzhou – January 17, 2007

20 01 2007

2007-01-17  (Wednesday)

Work has become pretty routine.  I don’t think I’ve told you about lunch yet though….

The office is in an industrial park, and there is a “park” canteen.  If we let them know ahead of time, they will serve a plate for each “reservation”.  Cost per person…. 7RMB.  Yup $1CAD for lunch.  This isn’t the “overstaffed restaurant” kind of lunch though..  No.  They put your lunch out at 11:50, whether you’re there or not.  If you take too long it’ll be cold.  Your tough luck.  Lunch consists of usually 2 meat products, and 2 veggie products as well as a bowl of soup, and all the rice you can handle.  It’s on a metal tray, so the longer you take to get there, the quicker it will cool… Cold bland food – not so good. 😦  It definitely is a “working man’s lunch”  Nothing fancy about it.  It’s decent fare though, and it’s close and convenient.  My other colleague who is over from Vancouver with me just devours it.  I’m a bit slow on the pickup…more of a “pick and choose” eater.   Perhaps by the end of my stay I’ll attack it with a bit more vigour.

Today I just went out for a walk from the hotel.  And with all due respect to someone who cares about me very much, I wasn’t robbed, killed or even threatened.  I DID get lots of strange looks as white guys are about as common as hen’s teeth around here.  Some couples turned, others tried not to stare.  You really get an interesting reaction when you turn and smile at people when you hear them saying “Guay Lo”…LOL!  They look quite shocked that you know they are talking about you.  I went about 4 blocks away from the hotel before the life on the street started to die down, which was a signal to me that it was time to turn around (See… I DO care about my safety!)  On the return I saw a place up on the second floor (most restaurants seem to be on the second floor over shops) called “Focus Coffee” which advertised Chinese and Western food.  Back home that’s an invitation to disaster..usually neither the Chinese or the Western food is good. 

I figured I’d roll the dice and see what I got.   I was greeted by the classic red gowned hostess (will have to get a picture for you) who spoke just about ZERO English.  I could feel another challenge coming up!  I was seated at a nice booth by the window, which afforded me the opportunity to watch the local folk come and go on their little scooters.  Quite the little devices….more on that later.  I sat down and got my menu.  It was a typographical nightmare.  Every English word that was supposed to have an “A” had a an “H” instead.  I looked over the various beef options, but I somehow didn’t feel like having a steak  (better on the Barbeque at home), and continued looking.  During this time, my VERY attentive waitress sat RIGHT next to my table and watched my every move.  I felt quite a bit of pressure to get my order placed.  Chinese people must have an immunity to it. Me… not so much.  I decided to go with something on the Chinese part of the menu that looked like portuguese style baked pork chops.  I chose my item, and my waitress dutifully repeated the name “Hoisin Fan”? Of course, she could have been offering me cow dung, so all I could do was nod my head. In my poor Cantonese I asked if it was beef or pork, and the manager even came over to try and help explain what it was.  Nope. No luck. Hmmmm.  She asked if I wanted a drink.  I always like to try the local beer, so I had a beer listed underneath Bud and Heinekin.  I figured it’s Chinese, and it’s in the beer column.  I’ll give it a whirl.

Shortly after ordering,my “beer” showed up.  “Purple Goanna”.  Definitely NOT beer 😦  Urgh.  This can best be described as a kind of grape koolaid flavoured cooler.  It had 5% alcohol, but it tasted like a bad bottle of koolaid. Oh well.  You live… you learn.  Some time later, my hoisin fan showed up.  What was it?  Baked seafood on rice.  Just like you’d get back home at Gloucester cafe.  LOL!  It was quite good, and I took a bit of time to help my waitress learn the words “Baked Seafood on rice”.  She seemed genuinely appreciative of the fact that she now knew one more menu item in English.   As with most dishes, one was more than enough to fill me up.  So as I finished it, I recalled seeing that they had Bailey’s on the menu.  Sweet.  When she came back, I ordered a “cup of coffee and a shot of “Bailey’s”.  That was the cue for more hilarity.  She looked at me like I was from Mars. 
“What kind of coffee, sir?”
“Just plain coffee.”
“Just one moment please.”
Uh Oh….
My waitress returns with the menu.  There’s no such thing as “Just plain coffee”.  You have a choice of “Brazillian, Java, Italian, etc…”  I quickly scanned the coffee options.  “I’ll have the Italian” (it was the cheapest). 
Then she paused for a moment and asked, “What did you want with that?” (In much less clear english than that).
“Bailey’s Irish Cream”
Quizzical look, “One moment please.”  Away she goes. This doesn’t bode well.
A minute or two later she comes back with the manager, and exchanges a few words with him.  He turns to me and asks, “What would you like, sir?”  (Always with the “sir”!)
“Bailey’s Irish Cream”
“Irish Coffee?”
“No.  Bailey’s Irish Cream.  It’s in the menu.”
“One moment please.”
He comes back with the menu, and I proceed to try and find where I saw Bailey’s.  I see an entry for a B52.  I tell him, it’s one of the ingredients in the B52. 
He looks at me like I’ve got 3 eyes and am growing horns, “I don’t understand”.
After going over the menu 3 times, I finally find the entry for “Bhiley’s Irish Crehm”  (Which explains why I couldn’t find quickly).
“Oh, yes sir.”
They both went away, and I awaited my cup of coffee and shot of Bailey’s.
About two minutes passed when the manager sheepishly reappeared and said, “Sorry sir, but we have no Bailey’s Irish Cream.”
Sigh….  I was determined to have an alcoholic coffee, as the cold weather that had set in that day made me want to warm up a bit.
I managed to end up with Coffee and Kahlua.  Nothing like coffee flavored liqueur to go with your coffee!  LOL.  The coffee was very strong, and drowned out my Kahlua pretty badly.  After finishing that, I paid my bill, and was on my way.  A pretty inexpensive meal still, but not as good a deal as I had a the Sichuan place.  I headed back to the hotel, and was in a pretty determined mood to have my coffee with Bailey’s. 

The lobby bar had about 4 people in it, so I got pretty quick service 🙂  I knew this time that I’d have to choose my type of coffee.   I chose the cheapest coffee I could find (25RMB!) and my shot of Bailey’s (25RMB). It was nice, if not a bit expensive.  There was a band playing (2 female singers, and guy on the piano).  They played various cover songs, and were pretty good.  Between sets, they came by and said “Hi!”  Nice folks.  We chatted for a bit. 

After my second Bailey’s and coffee, I headed back to the room, and took advantage of the first night that I actually had semi-half decent Internet connectivity to get some email done before Vancouver woke up.  I still woke up at 0300.  Sigh.  Tomorrow is Thursday…time is ticking to get everything done… Excitement at the prospect of a deadline and jet lag contributed to the middle of the night wake up I think.

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