You know how horror movies always have the false ending? Where you think everything has wrapped up nicely, and all the conflicts are resolved, and then BAM! a knife-wielding clown bursts through the floorboards? That's a little how I'm feeling about lunch today.
During this trip, I have already eaten century eggs, chicken feet and eels, so I really didn't feel like I needed to prove myself any more. Sure, there's lots more scary stuff out there, but now that I've tried all those things I feel like I can just pass on certain things without feeling like a coward. And since today was my last day, it really seemed like I was past any risk of coming across anything too unusual.
My going-away lunch was attended by eight coworkers, including the executive creative director and the office managing director. We went to the same restaurant where I had the chicken feet (not a good sign), but it's a nice place, even if the decor is a little, as one coworker put it, "Country Kitchen."
The place specializes in spicy foods, so there were lots of peppers and lots of good hot food - tofu with pork, spicy green beans, noodles, chicken, fish soup, and the final dish was a whole grouper, including head and tail, that had been deep-fried.
That wasn't the scary bit.
The scary bit came when the managing director pushed one plate towards me and said I should try a bit. It was a beige sliced white meat that had a complex latticework of raised ridges on one side. My first thought was octopus tentacles, but I was trying to be a good sport so I tried a bit.
As I chewed thoughtfully on the rubbery, flavorless meat, it was revealed that no, thank goodness, it wasn't tentacles.
It was a cow's stomach.
My brain, thankfully, decided to protect itself by pretending it hadn't heard that, so my reply was a semi-interested "Hmm!" and I was able to finish the meal without incident, probably to the disappointment of my coworkers, who I noticed weren't exactly digging into the tripe themselves.
But at least that's another one I can scratch off the life checklist.
IN OTHER NEWS:
GOODBYE, BEIJING OFFICE:
Just generally a quiet, professional exit today. I cleaned my desk and computer, sent out my contact information to friends and walked around saying goodbye. No big speeches, no tearful hugs, but a lot of sincere goodbyes and hope-we-meet-agains. The account service group gave me a very nice gift - a cedar box containing a set of seven handmade ceramics representing the seven fortunes: happiness, inner-peace, prosperity, longevity, joy, health and contentment. It was actually very touching, very unexpected and very nice.
I went out for dinner with the executive creative director and one of my Singaporean friends. We went to a very upscale Korean barbecue, where they cook your food for you at the table over a charcoal pot. There had been talk of a crazy night, which wasn't what I wanted at this point, but fortunately both of them had to go back to the office to work after we finished eating at 9:30, so I was off the hook.
Tomorrow I pack, probably have one more dinner with my friends, and then I'm coming home. Two days and counting!