This entry will be all about one of the most unforgettable nights of my life. It’s full of laughs, drinks, and hangovers – in one of the coldest cities on the planet.
After our time at the Ice Festival, and subsequent trip back to the city center, we asked another cab driver whereabouts was the best place to find some, good local cuisine (being as cold as we were, we knew that any trip back to the hotel would almost guarantee no further expedition into the frozen, Siberian night). Without pause, he took us to what looked to be an old Soviet-era housing district. If that wasn’t suspect enough, he guided us down into the dimly lit basement of what appeared to be someone’s house. I like my kidneys as much as anyone else; but, sometimes, you just have to take chances in life. Thankfully, it worked out, again!
Now, before I go too far into this story, I have to make one thing clear: TO BE FAIR, we were not warned of: 1) The price of each drink and 2) The alcohol content of each drink. I hope that was enough foreshadowing… (Notice the Mao cups!)
Well, after short consideration (3sec) and a look at the menu, we decided to have dinner in this quaint restaurant in the basement of some random stranger’s house. Now, I’m not going to lie and say how amazing the food was (It wasn’t, AT ALL) because that is not where the fun begins. The fun begins when my friend decided that we should take a sampling of the local home-brew that looked so tantalizing upon entry into the restaurant.
After a few sips, we realized we were neither blind, nor dead; so we decided to continue. Now, I pride myself on my ability to handle my alcohol (drink it pure, have some self respect), but this stuff was STRONG. We just kept drinking… Ordering more and more mystery alcohol from the giant mystery alcohol vats… Pretty soon, we both realized that we were quite drunk!
Feeling full and happy, we decided it was about time to take this adventure into the next stage of the night. We collected our belongings and asked for the bill…
Upon first glance, we thought that there had been some sort of mistake. There is no way that two people could create such a large bill with such a simple dinner. After asking the waitress to clarify why the price was so high, she aggressively pointed towards the two mystery vats… Turns out that each small serving was costing us upwards of USD$20. We had partaken in “a few”….
My friend and I returned to our table to formulate some sort of strategy out of this, as neither one of us had the cash to cover the cost of this dinner. After several seconds (let’s go with 3, again), we both looked at each other and began to laugh: our only real course of action was tell them that we didn’t have enough money to pay… Being a bit under the influence of the mystery alcohol, we quickly laughed it off and informed the staff that, unfortunately, we would not be paying the full amount that night, and we hoped that they would respect our decision…. well it worked! Way to make foreigners in China look good, right!?
Well after leaving the restaurant, we visited the ATM up the street to continue our Harbin shenanigans (no shame). After hailing another cab, we asked the driver where we could find some local fun. Again, without pause, he took us to the local “watering hole.” I will summarize the majority of this next part (omitting risqué details)…. 4am… BottlES of vodka… Phones both dead… Can’t find hotel… wandering through streets…
The next day!
Suffice it to say we were both hungover and in no mood to do anything productive. However, being the hardy veterans that we are, we pushed forward through the grogginess to complete our Harbin adventure.
This whole day is a bit hazy to me. I wish I could give more explanation, but yeah….
Apparently, one of the most popular foods in Harbin is a popsicle. The logic: when you eat a popsicle, it cools your core temperature, so you are better able to handle the frigid cold. Not sure if this is based in BroScience or actual Science, but I did not have the scientific intrigue, at the time, to attempt a test.
This concludes my Harbin adventure. Next post, I will finally get around to talking about Taiwan! Yay! Stay tuned!