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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

It's all about the love

So I realize I have been putting a lot of posts up the last few days, [no kidding!--ed.] and spending more time than usual in the internet cafe, but it is very hot again today, and I have a long uncomfortable train ride ahead of me and a longer day tomorrow, so I am trying to preserve some energy now.

Last night I went out for a few drinks as planned with the Swiss I had met earlier in the day [see previous post--ed.] and another Swiss guy they had met in their hostel. We first tried to find one bar, but could not. We did, though, have the benefit of being squeezed into the very front corner of a double decker bus, with the Swiss guy crushed against the door, and me hanging on to the rearview mirror. And still at the next stop they managed to get a few more people on.

We didn't find the bar I was hoping to find and so had a Qingdao beer at a small cafe instead. It is interesting to note that while there are a number of cafes here, it seems that many of them are like the few I saw in Yining and in Hotan where they do not open until the afternoon and they are more geared towards evening and late night visits. They also tend to be dim and more conducive to conversation than to study or reading.

After that, we took a cab to another place I had heard about, but again no luck in finding it. However, there were several places in the area and we ended up in a new place called Moonkey. The bar itself was very nice, with a wood floor and several wood tables spread out across an open area. There was a live band playing a mix of blues and funk and bluegrass, and they were not bad at all, this bunch of young Chinese guys. Because there were only three tables worth of people in the place (including us), the staff was eager to wait on our every whim. The candle is out? Two seconds later it is lit again. A guy has a cigarette in his hand, reaching for his pocket? No fear! It is lit. They were almost overbearing, to be honest.

Next to us was a table of redfaced older Chinese guys, with a handful of pretty, young, and drunk Chinese women. As the women were very liberal with their affections, the guess here is that they might have been paid for their services, but this is all speculation. It was very hard to tell, to be honest. I do know, though, that when the men left, two of the women made their way to our table. One of them was much older than she looked from a distance, and was quite adament that we order six beers. (One for everyone now at the table). As she was encouraging me, her hand was creeping up my leg, and I was scooting farther away. Never mind that two of the Swiss were girls, or that one of them might be my girlfriend for all this woman knew...but she seemed oblivious to this possibility. Then she took my glasses off and put them on and was dancing around, and when I tried to get them back decided to play flirtatious. By this time I had mentioned having a girlfriend several times and in as polite a way as possible told her to leave me alone, and at some point she must have taken the hint. Then she started holding the hand of one of the Swiss girls (who were sisters). She kept saying so beautiful! Tou fa - hair! Bize - nose! So beautiful. She announced this to me several times, and to everyone who would listen as well. Then she told the girl she looked like Celine Dion and was so pretty and the Swiss girl said, if you think I'm so pretty why would you insult me like that?

Meanwhile the other woman, who could speak English well, was talking to the Swiss guy, who could not speak English well. She was 24, and was the owner of the bar. I had seen her walk out of the bar earlier holding onto one of the older men, and I began to wonder if that was her boyfriend, or if her bar might be "owned" by her, but owned by someone else. Suspicions were further raised when a guy sitting at the other table, where there were two guys and two young girls came over and said something to the older woman who was clinging to the Swiss girl and sort of smacked her on the hip. It was all just confusing.

Anyway, we left at about 1, and I decided to walk home to get an idea of Xian well after hours. The streets were almost quiet, except for the areas around a few clubs. The music coming from the clubs did not sound great, but I was tempted to go in nonetheless as it is something I will have to do at some point to get as much of an idea about life in China as possible. Last night was not the night, though. Just too tired.

As I was walking along the quiet, and at times very dark streets, I noticed a lot of the mei rong special services shops were closed up, which was a bit of a surprise. There were still a few odd mahjongg games but not much more. But then, when I got close to the hotel, they came: You want massage? One woman with a very large and unappealing bosom came running across the street. You come and see many pretty school girls. Just take a look look, ok? Then there were more. Three or four in a group. One of them broke away and followed me, grabbing me by the arm. Saying in Chinese, do you want to f*$k me? and using her fingers to demonstrate the concept. I said a few things back to her in Chinese, trying to have fun with it, but she was so persistent I finally said some less polite things. A group of these women were sitting on the steps of the building over from the hotel and they were laughing this whole time, and part of me felt like such an innocent abroad, and part of me wondered if such hardened women can possibly have any sort of motherly instinct or the potential for real affection towards a man. The hotel door was locked so I had to wait for a guard to wake up and open the door. One more minute of listening to those women, and a few last offers for services they might provide. I thought back to Urumqi and the women I saw sitting outside one of the shops while her young daughter was sitting and studying next to her, and I think about how many of these women there are. I realize then how little I know of prostitution in America, and I wonder how the two countries relate. I know it is not legal in either place, but is it as close to the surface in the States as it is here (excluding Vegas from this)?


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