Now that I had the basics down pat, and a room full of laundry bags that I wouldn’t be opening unless I had the proper motivation, it was time to find the other expats. It is something that I have noticed in my time here in China, if you live here and aren’t Chinese, anyone who is in the same boat is automatically your best friend. It’s natural. We like to hang out with people who have a shared experience, and what is more share-able than moving halfway round the world to live in a country whose language is so different to yours. I say it that way because a significant number of them are far more accomplished than I am and can actually speak Chinese, and a significant majority don’t even speak English as their first language. Half way round the world isn’t entirely accurate either. Of all the people I have met recently, I can count the countries of Iran, Bahrain, UK, Brazil, USA, Australia, Russia, and Ghana to name a few. And these were only the people that I talked to.
I will admit that this time around I did have help from Icy. She added me to a couple of social groups that really helped me. There is one group that multiple times a week, get together and play Uno, before going to a nearby bar. And, even, better they are all in my general vicinity. By that, I mean within an hour and a half’s walk from my place.
It took me a few weeks to get there, as I still needed to get settled, but once I was in my flat, I felt like I needed a social night, so Friday night, I gussied up and wearing a skirt and tights, (this is important later), walked to the usual meet up place. It wasn’t the most pleasant walk as my tights were slightly too efficient, and didn’t go all the way up my leg, causing a little chafage. But I got there, and met some lovely people, whose names I won’t bore you with. What I can say is that they were certainly a number of nationalities.
After a few rounds of lively Uno, we headed out to the bar, and due to one of them knowing someone, (or something; I’m not entirely sure of the details) we each got two free drinks, which included large glasses of wine. This was certainly a pleasant turn of events, and helped me out with what happened later.
We ended up playing dice, and it turns out it was basically the same game as what was played 800 years ago in the UK. Apparently simple games stand the test of time well. Every time someone lost, they had to choose truth or dare. This went exactly as expected. The group of people who didn’t all know each other that well, asked each other semi sexual questions.
It wasn’t the most fun. No one was choosing Dare. Which, if you ask me, is the fun part of truth or dare. So, I chose dare. Due to this, I got the WeChat contact of a very sexy model, and a dude who was out with his boss, and whose boss bought me a beer. Which was very nice of him. I even drank some of so I had the gumption to do another of the dares: get down by myself in an open area near where our table was and not near where the dance floor was.
Was I a little embarrassed? Yes. But I was also enjoying having fun with these new people who I’d only met that night.
I did have an ulterior motive for turning up that night – I was hoping to have my house warming on Sunday, and I didn’t want an empty house. Even though I’d only just met these people, I really hoped they would turn up.
I’d also secured my invite to Thanksgiving later the next week as well, as this would be soon and would also be my first ever Thanksgiving celebrated.
I eventually called it a night at about 2.30am which for me meant it was a very successful night. I got a taxi home and had a lovely chat with Lauren for my safety and because I was slightly drunk and so wanted to talk to her. Sometimes having an eight-hour time difference can be a good thing!
My ulterior motive worked as well. Come Sunday and my housewarming, although it was a slow start with Zoey and her two-year-old daughter Jasmine, and her friend being the only people in attendance to start, mostly due to Jazzy’s age, once it got a bit later, my new friends arrived and a lot of wine was drunk. We even played Uno around my coffee table, and what do you know, it was the perfect motivator for me to get the majority of the flat in order. No one was allowed to look in the second bedroom, as all my old colleagues’ stuff had been unceremoniously stuffed in there.
But it was all in all a successful night, even if the fact that the majority of them turning up late caused me to worry that they weren’t going to come at all, and I would have a dud house warming party. This was also exacerbated by Zoey’s friend and a friend of Icy’s leaving early, before the most of the others had arrived. But all in all, I had a good time, and I had significant cleaning up duties to do later, which to me, means a successful party. I had also tried sugarcane for the first time. While I normally like sweet things, this was not a good experience for me. You don’t actually eat sugar cane. You bite a chunk of it off the cane and chew it so that the sweet liquid comes out, and when there’s no more sweetness left, you spit out the carcass and go again. So, you don’t actually consume the cane. It was not pleasant. While I have enthusiastically taken up some Chinese snacks, (hello spicy beef and sunflower seeds), sugar cane is one I will not partake in again, much like the chicken feet.
Sunday wasn’t wholly pleasant for me. It turns out, that tights and white woman O+ tasty blood is a veritable feast for mosquitoes. Plus, this was the time of the year when it was still warm. I am writing this encased in a down jacket and bobble hat, because while it isn’t exactly freezing, at approximately 15˚C during the day and 10˚C in the morning, it’s that temperature constantly. In the house and out of it. Due to excessive heat during the majority of the year, houses and flats in this part of the country are designed to get the heat out of the house. And the air conditioning doesn’t have a heating setting (trust me, I’ve tried) so if it is ten outside, it’s ten inside. And the constancy of the cold gets to you more than it actually being cold. Admittedly, this is unusually cold. Normally you’re looking at over 15 overnight and getting up to above 20 during the day, but still, getting out of bed in the morning at the moment is not fun.
But anyway, I digress. Massively. The end of November was still warm enough to go out overnight without a jumper, and I was only wearing tights as a precaution that I didn’t need. Not that they helped. I was covered in mosquito bites. I’d only had a couple since I’d arrived back in China this second time around, so I hadn’t bothered with bug repellent which was a huge mistake apparently. While I’d gorged on new friendships, the mosquitoes had gorged on me. The little buggers. I had to look out my itch relief cream and scratch as little as possible.
And then within a week of this it was Thanksgiving, and I’d had to make a dish for it. Having practised making chocolate brownies the week before for Zoey and Icy, I went for the same thing again, which was useful in using up all the leftover ingredients. They also were better this time around, thanks to the practice. So, I baked them at lunchtime and then headed off in the evening, armed with them and some alcohol. As usual, I got a little lost trying to find the right place, but I had time to do so as I’d left my flat with enough time to walk should I have to, but I was lucky enough to be able to flag down a taxi, since Didi still isn’t working for me.
But it did mean that I was super early to the party. In the end I didn’t mind too much as I had to leave early too, due to having to work the next day and my promptness meant that I got to take part in the turkey game, won before anyone else arrived (pretty much) and got a bottle of wine for me efforts on leaving. It was all very lovely.
The rest of the evening itself was good too. There was a point when I was three glasses of wine down and hadn’t eaten any food, which was a little concerning and we were all started to get really hungry. The issue was that Charlie, the host had promised to wait for some people to arrive before we ate and they didn’t get there until gone 9pm so everyone was drinking on an empty stomach. But when we did get to eat, the food was all fantastic. It was a great mix of both Western and Chinese food and it all tasted delicious.
I had some really interesting conversations as well, even if I can’t remember the final points of the later conversations. Charlie was an excellent host in that she kept plying me with wine even when I told her I needed to switch to water since I didn’t really want to be hungover the next day at work. (Spoiler alert: I was. Very. hungover at work the next day). but the gist of the conversations were race relations in China, and did I want to be on someone’s podcast. I did. I still do, if you happen to be reading this, new friend.