Ke Ai means “adorable”, usually used to describe small children. Whenever we were introduced, as ‘Feng ze’ and ‘Ke ai’ (‘crazy’ and ‘adorable’) – people laughed. ha ha very funny.

The notches in their teeth subject seemed like something we should not inquire too much about, and I’m still not convinced that it was from eating sunflower seeds… It was really evident in some  people’s mouths, but not so much in others… I only saw women with this, and one woman who seemed rather affluent had really well defined notches. But sunflower seeds was the only response we got.

I thought that the tour with the 2 girls was a date – for me anyway. But Feng ze may be right, that it had been arranged. Anyway the lunch place we went to was our first Peking Duck experience, and the 2 girls were the ones to suggest it. They were happy to be treated to a good meal, and they both ate everything. Especially everything that we couldn’t stomach… The entire meal was duck. First there was duck broth, which was tasty; but the next courses weren’t as convincing… Duck feet. I remember the look on Christof’s face, which must have been a mirror of the look on mine. What – exactly – is there to eat? there didn’t seem to be anything but skin covering the feet; but ‘the girls’ were too happy to gnaw on ours while we watched. seems to me there was even another course – something like all the ligaments between the duck bones, ‘delectably’ served on a bed of lettuce. mmmm!

But the main course was nice, and eventually someone showed us the best place in Beijing for Peking Duck (the place where President Carter ate, if I’m not mistaken) and it was so good that we went back there at least once a week. My mouth is watering just thinking about that place…

The gig was strange, beyond a doubt. No one paid any attention to us, and we were supposed to play for 5 hours a night, 6 nights a week.

Never got any applause. Sometimes between sets they would roll out the Karaoke TV, and then everyone was excited about what was going on on the stage. That was when they would loudly applaud; even though I can’t remember anyone singing in tune during karaoke – it was painful. Even more so because everyone paid much more attention to the horrible renditions of the Titanic theme song than they ever did to us.

But once it was over, there was a bit of fun dancing to the Dj’s – very limited selection – of (mostly Bennie’s collection of CD’s) dance tunes. The Dj’s name was ‘snoopy’. pretty hip stage name eh?

The ride home in the breadbox mini mini mini van was indeed an experience. All the blue transport trucks looked exactly alike, only the big numbers on the backs which served as ID were different… so this is communism?

The mini mini minivan had no seats in the back, only wooden benches along the sides. I remember another odd thing: people were constantly flashing their high beams – to get a better look at the road signs. Weird. And In the mornings, on our way into the city, we would drive by rows and rows of greenhouses, which had been covered with bamboo mats overnight – an extra barrier against the cold. Every morning the farmers would climb up onto the greenhouses and roll up these mats – one by one, by hand, on hundreds of greenhouses.

One night we were driven home from one of Bennie’s parties by a taxi – this was exceptional. But the guy dropped us off in the middle of the freeway – his oil indicator light had blinked on, and he didn’t want to risk taking us all the way to our suburb – even though he had already been paid to do just that. He flagged down another taxi to take us the rest of the way, but wanted us to pay – again. Convinced that this was a scam (and admittedly I was being really tight on my expenses) we refused, and decided to hoof it for the last 5 or 10 miles. Nobody stopped to pick us up. It was scary because the freeway was so dark, and there was hardly any shoulder for us to walk on. Every truck that passed us stank of cheap diesel, and nearly hit us without even slowing the slightest.  But we were able to visit some of the brick shanty towns along the way, something we might never have done otherwise…