“…Simple and unsophisticated!”

That’s what my holiday last week was like. You’ll have to read till the end to see more about the concept of “simple and unsophisticated.”

It’s¬†National Day Golden Week holiday in China and the entire country is off and on the move, until this Saturday. EF employees got three days as a holiday which combined with my two days off, gave me five days of R and R. I had been kicking around the idea of traveling somewhere by plane or train but really, I didn’t want to fight the crowds but I also didn’t want to sit around my apartment for five days. So I decided to stay in a hotel in Sanlitun for two nights and sit around a hotel room instead. Then go home and sit around there for the duration.

I ended up staying at the Asia Hotel and I choose wisely! It was quite deluxe and compared to SF or NYC, a fraction of the cost. It’s also centrally located, unlike Wudaokou, where I live. It’s a 15 minute walk to Sanlitun Village (see previous post) and all of the surrounding bars, restaurants, shopping malls and other manifestations of consumer excess that is modern China.

I liked the idea of being able to stay out late, drinking, partying and otherwise, behaving badly without worrying about the need to get back on the subway which closes by 11pm which is very incongruous for a town known for late night outings with plenty of 24 hour options, including drinking. I am loathe to take a taxi, due to language barriers (some drivers can’t read Mandarin so having written directions could fail) and I have heard some stories about taxi-rides gone woefully wrong, so I eschew¬†them like the plague, unless I am with someone who speaks the language.

Another thing that’s incongruous is me staying out late, drinking, partying and otherwise, behaving badly, none of which I ended up doing. It was an option, as there are plenty of people I know who live in that part of town who in fact stay up late, drinking…behaving badly, etc, etc. But alas, I reverted to form and elected not to contact anyone, for fear that I wouldn’t choose wisely! I also realized that when I am on my own, I eat and drink a whole lot less, which is no small consideration for me.

Nevertheless, I may have ended up with an entire group of ex-pats, all Democrats to pal around with, if I can get sufficiently motivated. On Saturday, I wandered into The Bookworm. An odd English-only bookstore that has a full-service bar and cafe (I say “odd” because of the selection of books available and their catagorization system which has got nothing on Dewey but it certainly is screwy.) So you can grab a book and read while eating but usually everyone’s “surfing.” So the reading part seems incidental but it’s a good place to meet Americans if one is so inclined, while eating pubgrup and quaffing some local brew.

That day, there were some volunteers working for Vote from abroad.org, registering Yanks to vote in the General Election. They took care of all of the paperwork and all I have to do is download an absentee ballot. Despite my previous misgivings about Hillary, the relentless bat-shittery, antics and insanity of the bloated, narcissistic gas-bag have convince me to hold my nose and pull the lever for her. Not that California is in any danger of going red. Not a snowball’s chance in hell. But I’ve voted in every presidential election since 1976 (“Jimmy who?”) and, at the end of the day, I didn’t want to sit on my hands this time around. Besides, regardless of the electoral outcome, this Mussolini-wannabe needs to see just how many Americans reject “His Royal Nothingness.” Wouldn’t it be great if, after being completely blown-out, he retreats back down the rabbit-hole from whence he came, never to be heard from again? – “And just like that. As mysteriously as he arrived, he was gone.” Be still, my beating heart!

The volunteers at The Bookworm were actually members of “Democrats Abroad” (nominally acting non-partisan for the registration effort.) and they do have get-togethers which will include an election day party at the restaurant, The Bridge, that I wrote about previously. It’s only 15 minutes from where I live. Woo-hoo! I get to watch the election returns with fellow travelers, so to speak. California polls close at 8pm which is 11am here (I think.) Too bad I will have to work that day (but not until afternoon) otherwise, lots of mimosas to celebrate would be in order. Who knows? Perhaps I will have some new friends soon. Especially, if I bother to chime in on their “WeChat” group which has 64 people. I’ve been known to say a couple of things about the state of American politics, from time to time.

Oh yes; about the title of this post. While thumbing through the hotel room guide, I came across the below entry for one of the property’s restaurants. I haven’t quite figured out if the phrase actually makes sense in the context of advertising an upscale hotel restaurant’s appeal, or if it is better catagorized as just another unintentional, Chinese bon mot. What do you, dear reader, think?

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..."Simple and unsophisticated!"

…”Simple and unsophisticated!”

Hotel lobby. It was pretty quiet, for a holiday.

Hotel lobby. It was pretty quiet, for a holiday.

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My room.

My room.

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The view from my room. Both days heralded really, really bad smog.

The view from my room. Both days heralded really, really bad smog.

One of my first stops was April Gourmet. It's an imported goods store that I have wanted to shop at. I was elated to see kitchen knives for sale which are verboten in any other store (I found out recently, you can buy them at IKEA-they're hidden from view- but you have to show your Passport.) I put a bunch in my basket then remembered that my can of Raid that I packed for the hotel (I hate mosquitos) was consfiscated at the subway as a dangerous substance that I could use on passengers (all subway possessions are X-rayed) and sadly realized that would be the fate of my knives. Answer: Taxi ((aaargh!) On the plus side, I finally found a bottle of marsala wine so I can make my beloved chicken marsala, at long last.

One of my first stops was April Gourmet. It’s an imported goods store that I have wanted to shop at. I was elated to see kitchen knives for sale which are verboten in any other store (I found out recently, you can buy them at IKEA-they’re hidden from view- but you have to show your Passport.) I put a bunch in my basket then remembered that my can of Raid that I packed for the hotel (I hate mosquitos) was confiscated at the subway as a dangerous substance that I could use on passengers (all subway possessions are X-rayed) and sadly realized that would be the fate of my knives. Answer: Taxi ((aaargh!) On the plus side, I finally found a bottle of marsala wine so I can make my beloved chicken marsala, at long last.

This is "bar street" across the Sanlitun Village. The rooftop bar, Kokomo, with it's amazing view of the Intercontinental Hotel light show, is here as are countless bars, restaurants and shops among the warrens that extend beyond this photo.

This is “bar street” across the Sanlitun Village. The rooftop bar, Kokomo, with it’s amazing view of the Intercontinental Hotel light show, is here as are countless bars, restaurants and shops among the warrens that extend beyond this photo.

Now here's a language you don't see very often around these parts.

Now here’s a language you don’t see very often around these parts.

My first stop on my first day was lunch. Memo to self: Don't order food when hungry. I ate at the Bellagio at Sanlitun Village. I hadn't had breakfast so I was quite hungry, as you can see. There were no leftovers, embarrisingly enough. One reason I didn't pursue getting together with someone that night was the knowledge that I would have had dinner. On my own, I didn't feel compelled. So, despite the mass quantities of food I consumed here, it was my only meal that day.

My second stop on my first day was lunch. Memo to self: Don’t order food when hungry. I ate at the Bellagio at Sanlitun Village. I hadn’t had breakfast so I was quite hungry, as you can see. There were no leftovers, embarrisingly enough. One reason I didn’t pursue getting together with someone that night was the knowledge that I would have had dinner. On my own, I didn’t feel compelled. So, despite the mass quantities of food I consumed here, it was my only meal that day.

Bellagio Restaurant.

Bellagio Restaurant.

Soho Complex. Offices, apartments and shopping complex across the street from Sanlitun Village.

Soho Complex. Offices, apartments and shopping complex across the street from Sanlitun Village.

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An enormous video board advert for Mercedes-Benz which has an indoor showroom next to it.

 

The Intercontinental Hotel at day. I wanted to stay here but it's price was, although less than SF, pretty, pretty, pricey for Beijing.

The Intercontinental Hotel during the day. I would have stayed here but, although it’s cheap by SF standards, is “pretty, pretty, pretty” pricey for Beijing. Now, if I had, had someone to stay with me, well…

 

 

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Sanlitun Village

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Sanlitun Village at night. On the right a large cube that is a light show. This place is almost always packed with people. Plenty of shops with names you all know.

Sanlitun Village at night. On the right a large cube that is a light show. This place is almost always packed with people. Plenty of shops with names you all know.

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This is the rooftop bar of Migas, a tapas restaurant that is listed as having one of Beijing's best rooftop bars. I was there at 7:30 and was the only person.

This is the rooftop bar of Migas, a tapas restaurant that is listed as having one of Beijing’s best rooftop bars. I was there at 7:30 and was the only person.

Difficult to see but these are giant egg-like, cushioned seating for patrons.

Difficult to see but these are giant egg-like, cushioned seating for patrons.

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The Intercontinental Hotel as seen from Migas. Note it's lit up with the Chinese flag.

The Intercontinental Hotel as seen from Migas. Note it’s lit up with the Chinese flag.

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The views from Migas.

The views from Migas.

It's a national holiday. This is the subway station near the hotel, the Sunday I checked out. I would opine, you will very rarely see any subway station this devoid of people. I was astonished!

It’s a national holiday. This is the subway station near the hotel, the Sunday I checked out. I would opine, you will very rarely see any subway station this devoid of people. I was astonished!

 

 

5 thoughts on ““…Simple and unsophisticated!”

  1. Ha, simple and unsophisticated. As a person who speaks the language, I don’t think the translation can pass the right meaning by “simple and unsophisticated…”. I’d like to say “Retro and leisurely”.
    So about the Old Dock Restaurant, do people really seat in the boats to have dinner?
    Have you tried that?

    • Hi Madison; I don’t think they actually sit in the boats. There are booths off to the side and I think that’s the only place people eat. We can go there for dinner, if you’re curious.

  2. Aha, I did some research just now, the restaurant has 4 boats, a reservation is needed if the customers want to have dinner in the boat. And 15% service fee will be charged. But I prefer to have dinner on a real boat someday. LoL~~

  3. Hey Big Boy,I’ve tried calling you a couple of times through whatsapp but no luck.Can you send me your # and a good time to call?

  4. Hillary may be the lesser of evils, but isn’t that what we want: less evil?

    Enjoy watching the returns there; I imagine it will be a very interesting experience.

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