China Diary

Day 29: The First Contact


Saturday was a light day at work for me – a quick tour through the departments, few words with Max and then my Internet died and I faded out of the office. But for once, I had some plans for the evening: Tuomas Kantelinen, the composer from Finland was visiting in Beijing for the project he’s composing music for – Renny Harlin’s next Chinese film – and we decided to go out for a pizza.

IMG_9521…and that’s where I found all the westerners who had fled the Chinese cuisine for a day, happily munching away an Italian pizza, drinking Australian red wine and enjoying American bourbons. I had had a craving for a proper pizza for weeks, and now, finally, there it was. And I wasn’t disappointed.

After the dinner, I had another date set up, with another Finn who happened to be in town. Peter Vesterbacka, of Rovio and so much more fame was having a presentation at Chicago University in Beijing (yeah, funnily that makes sense), and we met with him and one of his friend from France at a lavish hotel bar. We spoke about movies and TV-series and had good ol’ time, a much-needed chat with new faces who are not in the industry and whom I’m able to communicate with. Slowly, I felt my soul regaining its’ strength.

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Beijing By Night

Afterwards, I thought about getting a taxi back home, but realized I was only under two kilometers away, so it was easy walk for me through sleepy business district of Beijing, all the way to Maggie’s, where I sat down for a nightcap.

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Wifey 🙂

The same waiter from the day before was there, and we started talking. His English is not perfect, but understandable. It was a slow night, so few other bar people came over the admire my tattoos, touching my hands like I was some kind of a freakshow, giggling and one of the girls even told me she wanted to marry me. Well, I’m not up for that, missus, my lilac-haired lady is waiting at home thank you very much.

There was a band playing. Apparently, a band that plays every night except on Sundays. No other band ever plays there, it’s just the house band and they probably play the same tunes every night. Chinese band doing American rap and rock, but surprisingly well. At least well enough for the ex-pats going crazy when tunes like Sex Is On Fire were on.

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Maggie’s Bar

I spoke with the bar staff for about an hour, probably misunderstanding most of what was said, and did some people-watching on the side. On the far end of the bar was a dirty old guy with way too young prostitute who was looking mildly nauseous as the guy made his advances. On the other side, a bunch of embassy workers from one embassy or another were on a night out, loud and behaving like they own the world. Of course, there’s the guy who gets the band perfectly, dancing (or swaying) through every tune and demanding at least ten handshakes from the band leader while. So, nothing new under the sun.

One interesting discussion I had with the bartender was concerning North Korea. The guy is from a town that’s just at the border of North Korea, but on China side. He told me how absurd it was when every night when the sun goes down the tall buildings on China side are brightly lit, but North Korea side is all pitch black. They have nothing, he told me. They fish in the river and come to China to exchange the fish to some daily necessities, but they are so poor it’s impossible to understand. Coming from someone who comes from rural China, not exactly the economic heaven either, it must be serious.

Little did I know, Kim the tubby leader of North Korea was at it again, this time blowing even a bigger a-bomb somewhere relatively near to China border. Today, the newspapers are all going crazy about his nuclear armament progress, and the North Korean media is spreading the images of the Korean version of Eric Cartman touring at the nuclear facilities, with his thin, skeleton-like army of advisors and aides at his wake, noting everything he says (and he appears to be quite a humorous fellow as well) in the tiny notebooks with extreme care.

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I’m sure whatever it is he’s instructing the highly trained staff of this nuclear weapon assembly plant about is instrumental to the success of the weapons experiment. Photo: KCNA, slightly cropped from the top.

The good thing is that when we move to Qingdao for shooting the film, we’re at the prime seats if things go haywire in the Korean peninsula. We should be able to see the fireworks from our hotel window if we’re lucky. To be honest I don’t think it’ll come down to that. North Korea already won the armament race and is holding Seoul as a hostage so there’s nothing anyone can do at this point anymore, other than not provoke them as they run out of money, and wait for the revolution if there’s one to come. Screen Shot 2017-09-03 at 21.05.05

I came home around 1pm, and hooked up online with Annika. We spoke three hours straight on Skype, that’s a new high score, until I finally went to bed when the day was already dawning. Luckily, on Sunday I had nothing planned, so I was able to sleep in as late as I wanted.

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