Sometimes, a guy just needs a good smoke. If you're Chinese, 'sometimes' means 'all times.' This place is a smoker's paradise. You can smoke in restaurants, offices, on the street, pretty much everywhere. And so they do. I seriously don't think I know more than a couple people who don't smoke, and most of those who do are heavy smokers.
To be fair, it's hard to accuse them of fouling the air. Urban legend has it that breathing the air in Beijing is like smoking 2 packs a day, so they probably figure, why blow against the wind?
There are a number of good domestic brands (or so I hear), but sometimes what you really want is the richest, most satisfying smoke of all:
Smooth, satisfying Mardlero cigarettes. You can't read the small text in the logo on the left in this picture, but it makes a darn compelling argument: "Goods Smoking Gear."
IN OTHER NEWS:
OH, MY HEAD:
Towards the end of the day yesterday, my Scottish colleague in the media buying group stopped by my desk and asked if I wanted to go for a drink. I did. It was actually a little bit of a disappointing day - I got to see the TV scripts that are going to be presented next week and none of my ideas made it. I know I wasn't expected to have a script in the mix and I'm just here to learn, and I've never done a TV script before and shouldn't expect to be proficient the first time out of the gate, but still, that was a lot of time and effort.
So I gathered my stuff and we headed over to Franks for a couple pints of Guinness and some small cigars. We were soon joined by the office managing director, another coworker from India and his Taiwanese girlfriend. Pretty soon we settled in for dinner (a burger again - I know I've said it before, but Franks makes really good burgers) and more drinks, graduating to Jamesons whiskey.
It was a long, pleasant dinner out on the patio. We had a wide ranging conversation about my time in China, some of my experiences, movies, global politics, macroeconomics, tattoos and more. When it came time to break up the party, around 11, my Scottish friend asked if I was up for more.
Sure, why not? We went to Browns, a happening nightclub with railings mounted above the bar to help people climb up on it and dance. And dance they did:
The music was overwhelmingly American, and mostly at least a couple years old - Hollaback Girl (again with that song!), Mambo No. 5 and the like.
More Jamesons, Kilkenny, Guinness. Then we took a taxi to Maggies, one of the oldest expat bars in Beijing. Totally packed, and a similar scene to the one at Browns.
The one difference between clubs back home and here that I observed was that the average age of the foreigners at least was probably a little older than what you'd see in America. Makes sense though. By the time your job takes you to Beijing, or you have enough money to travel and go clubbing there, you're probably a little older. And if you're a foreigner alone in Beijing, you probably do seek out other people when you can.
Interesting night, but by this time it was 2 am and I was a little tipsy, so I cabbed back home and woke up with a headache this morning. Doh!
THE AMERICAN OFFICE WORKER IN HIS NATURAL HABITAT:
On Thursday I was at my desk at about 10 in the morning, one of the few people there that early, when the HR director led a tour of about 50 people (I assume advertising students) slowly past my desk. Since I was the only one working, and I do stick out a bit, they all stared at me as they slowly filed past. It was surreal, like being in a zoo.
WORST. HAIKU. EVER:
I bought another package of peanuts, though not Angry Shirtless Old Man Brand Peanuts, and found even more baffling text on it.
It's tiny little text that almost looks like a dot pattern, but when you look closely, you can read the following:
"Choiceness raw materiai with most up-to-date equipments and technique produced meticulous.
Taste-tempting best enjoyment suitable for men women and children give first choice.
Treasure produced meticulous best enjoyment quality guarantee.
Good taste the flavour remains healthy choice an excellent gift in all seasons help digest greasy food.
Good tastes for large masses series high foodstuff delicacies loved by all choiceness raw."
Oh, Feixiang Classics, you had me at 'Choiceness raw materiai!'