The Friday after our day of gluttony and before our night of fireworks, our Chinese school hosted a barbecue at its Yangmingshan campus for the Chinese learners. Straight after class, Colin, Pascal, Ting-hua (the Indonesian guy in our class), and I hopped on a frilly chartered bus to go up the mountain.
I have to say, the school put out a pretty nice spread. Three men were working two giant disks of iron, and a buffet of raw meats and veggies and oils was laid out for students.
We weren’t the only ones eating though, oh no. The air was thick with mosquitoes the size of wasps, and Colin, twitching like a horse, covered himself as best he could in his jacket. It didn’t matter; they bit through jeans and sweaters. Beasts.
After two bowls of the Mongolian barbecue, we were ushered inside for a speech by our university president (in English and Chinese), and then the organizers explained rest of the night explained.
Displays of holidays, Western and Eastern, were set up in different rooms throughout the building. New Years, Christmas/Hanukah and the Mid-Autumn Festival, Halloween and scary Chinese movies, and Valentine’s Day (complete with romantic-song karaoke, pass).
After making our rounds through the rooms, our group crossed the campus to see the night view of Taipei from the elevation over 1,500 feet. Not too bad. And the mosquitoes couldn’t find us over there.
Carlos, who had joined our class for one day before changing to a different laoshi, suggested we go out for drinks after returning to school, so Colin, Pascal, Ting-hua, Carlos, and I, joined shortly by Andy, walked to Club 45, a pub just outside the MRT station we use to get home from school. We spoke almost completely in Chinese, as that was the only language we shared with Ting-hua. Honestly, it went pretty well. And I drank a rusty nail. How fun is that?
Ting-hua left first, and we switched to English to learn more about Carlos. He left a job teaching elementary kids in New York to move here with his new wife, who is here doing a Fulbright journalism internship, and that she had been freelancing for the New York Times. Needless to say, that got both Colin and I salivating. You will definitely read about Carlos and his wife in the future.