China Diary

Day 57: Beijing Nights


Greetings and felicitations, children of technology!

Let me tell you a story of my last night’s escapade. So there I was, after a long work day talking with one of the key actors of our movie, Friday night, sitting in my hotel room, feeling restless. Mika and his girlfriend had visited my room for a glass of red wine and few short films, but as they left doing whatever couples do on Friday nights (I have no recollection of that…), I jumped into my jeans, went outside and hailed a cab to Sanlitun Bar Area, a famous expat/red light district.

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Now that’s a nice collection of Whiskeys.

The night itself wasn’t full of too much excitement, though. I made my way past the red lights calling lonely men to watch sad-looking ladies singing on stage, and found myself in a little side alley which led me to the other part of the area, one which had much more regular bars. A nice whiskey bar called me in and I sat on the counter, ordering a terrific bourbon and listening to the jazz playing in the distance.

After a while I wandered into the adjacent bar, had an IPA and sat for a moment by myself, until an Australian group invited me to sit down for a beer. I welcomed the invitation happily and we talked a bit about Gold Coast, where I had shot the first Iron Sky what seems like an eternity ago, and where some of the guys lived in. Two of the guys were visiting the third guy, who worked as an engineer somewhere in Beijing (weirdly, he said it with an apologetic tone… not sure if that’s not a good thing?).

Aussies wandered away searching for other adventures and I decided it’s time for me to

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Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house down.

head back home, but just as I was about to hail a cab a saw a little joint advertising a shisha waterpipe. It instantly brought in mind me and Pekka’s crazy little trip to Georgia (the Eastern European Georgia) in the beginning of the year, where we had stopped for a 16 hour layover in Turkey, hailed a cab and went to Taksim Square, found a little shisha joint and spent good four five hours there, listening to Finnish music on my portable Bose over a big shisha pipe. Other than that, I’ve had shisha only few times before, when I was visiting in Dubai, so it’s not a regular thing, but right now it seemed like a good idea.

To those not familiar with shisha, no it’s not a drug pipe but a water pipe where you smoke a tasty tobacco. There are different flavors – anything from blueberry to orange to strawberry to whatever crazy you can come up with – and it’s really, really, really delicious. Yes, there’s nicotine, and for a person who quit smoking some six years ago (actually, in Gold Coast), I’ve always been very careful not to get too excited about it. But now I felt I wanted to have a puff, and I ordered the pipe on the table, puffing away.

An asian male Kim Kardashian -lookalike stepped in with a group of young people around him. When he saw me, he told the others to scoot, saying “I have a date”. He sat down in my table, introduced himself being the owner of the bar and went straight to the point: “are you gay”. No, I told him. Sorry. “Bi-curious, maybe?” “Not even that, sorry.” He was slightly disappointed, but nevertheless we ended up talking for a good hour, me puffing the pipe like Gandalf and him telling about his life in the states and running a bar here in Beijing, every now and then asking if I had changed my mind about my sexual orientation. I hadn’t. He took it well.

And no, the story doesn’t end up into anything experimental, I thanked him for the company and took a cab back home, where Annika was surprised to find me still up and we had a lengthy talk over Skype. The following day would be the 1st of October, the Liberation Day in China, which is a beginning of a seven-day holiday for the country, so I didn’t have too much to do the next day, so going to bed that late was just a-o-k!

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