Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Pretty regular day - attack hounds, peppercorns and bronze southwestern fantasy animals

Well the reason I was sleeping so poorly back in the world became pretty apparent this morning - I'm still on this time zone. After the Trans-Pacific long-haul, I went to bed last night at a reasonable hour and slept right through until the alarm woke me up. I guess now I understand why I've been waking up back in the world at weird early hours, ready to go.

Pretty much a day at work today whose highlight was our driver taking us to the wrong office at the start. The Development Area is just a tad beyond my grasp in terms of me being able to recognize landmarks and call out a missed turn to a local driver. I did see a building on the way in that I remembered was the place to turn, but I was so unsure of my directional ability that I didn't call it out. Only when I was absolutely sure did I tell him that we wanted to go the other way. Comfort in these situations comes with familiarity I reckon.

For dinner tonight we decided to visit my favorite little diner in the mall, hitherto nameless. We walked as it was a nice spring evening and passed all the regular stuff in the street for sale included this box of bagged starfish, looking to my eye like something you'd find in a bin at Kay-Bee Toys listed under "plastic shellfish", the colors were just that vivid and odd. For some reason, a Chinese jet fighter was doing circles over town, echoing among the buildings. It continued during all our ambulations and was still puffing alone as I sat down to write this.


My place was packed as usual and we stood with the hostess at the door gaping for an opening. A granny at the closest table waved to the girl and told her she was done and sure enough she gathered her goods and got up and left. I thanked her for her generosity as she passed. By some trick of fate, we had the same officious waitress we had last time and this time she continued to suffer no fools. I ordered three of my favorites and got stuck on the fourth. She recommended soup which I did not like. I asked for the famous garlic green beans which she did not have. We went around and around like this until I finally picked some arbitrary dish and she agreed with the choices. I ordered one tall beer and she insisted on two. I made the universal "tall beer" signal and she stood fast, two it was going to be. She left and returned with three glasses, I having successfully managed to request that amount. She took a look at the three she had, handed me the cleanest one and gave the dirty ones to my companions. I thought that was a riot, clearly I was in charge. We'd forgotten to order rice so I added that to the list and since I had already paid, we did a complex negotiation in which my change would pay for some of the add-ons but the total outlay needed to be supplemented by a few more kuai. That behind us, the food started to appear.

Once again, that delightful dance with the mouth-numbing peppercorns. The food was pronounced as "over the top hot" by people whom I've seen soak thinks in chile oil. By my standards that sets the dinner in the "success" category.

As we wrapped up, I called my friend back over and asked her the name of the restaurant. This brought another worker into the fray and we pretty much ended up with "tri ren bai hai" which I am sure is not correct. We looked so perplexed that she brought over a napkin with the characters written on it in her hand. Nice I thought. Turned the napkin over and there it was printed in the flip side. A little research and I'll report back as to the correct name.

We'd been talking about the vaccination program, something I think is so over the top as to be downright silly. Our corporate medical service plays the scare tactic line while the US CDC offers what I consider to be far more reasonable recommendations. Rabies was the main topic of our discourse, and people seem genuinely concerned about being attacked by a frothing Pomeranian. Of course talking about one's fears brings it right up into one's face and by that logic, every dog in Dalian suddenly appeared as if on cue. It was even remarked that one had not seen a single dog until we started talking about them. I caught this shot of just such a vicious hell-hound as it tried to attack me during its evening walk.

The evening was wearing down so we decided to take a spin to the Carrefore supermarket for some drinking water. No anti-western demonstrators complaining about the treatment of the Olympic Torch here, just regular people shopping for dinner. After wandering around a bit, I determined that the only special things about it were this Chinese Jack-a-lope out front and a cleverly worded checkout sign. Aside from that it was just like every other food store I'd been in over in these parts - lots of hard to figure out products and tons of live seafood. The woman working the counter in the fish department stirred up the langostino bin, putting them into a roiling froth in order to demonstrate their freshness and aggressive nature. The tank full of doughnut sized Abalone was a bit of a shock. I reluctantly decided not to go around photographing everything, so these two are all you get.




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