Friday, May 23, 2008

Chengdu Trip #5: Saturday

After throwing up lunch and dinner from the past couple of days, I felt really crappy this morning. Almost every hotel in Asia includes a breakfast buffet so I tried eating some congee. The breakfast was just slightly better than the food at Jinghu Hotel which isn't saying much.

We had lunch with my friend's friend even though I didn't feel like eating. She picked us up at the hotel and it was quite exciting since she just learned to drive. I think she got lost twice and had to make several u-turns. There were also several near misses with pedestrians but that's typical in China. She drove a Kia Spectra (or the Chinese equivalent); her "husband" has a dealership in Zigong. I put husband in scary quotes because the guy is not really her husband. He married a girl he didn't like when he was young and had a daughter. However, for the past 10 years, this other girl has had a relationship with him and just had a son several years ago. The guy did not divorce his first wife, supposedly to save face, so things are pretty complicated. I hear things like this (second wife) is pretty common in China.

Dinner was pretty interesting too. My friend's uncle, who works for the Zigong city government, took us to dinner in a restaurant across the street from my hotel. The food was decent and it only cost ~RMB300 for 10+ dishes and some beer. During dinner, the topic of politics came up. I usually try to keep quiet since my father's family were all KMT (losing side in the Chinese Civil War), and I was born in Taiwan, another touchy subject in China. Anyway, the uncle was telling me how as a Young Pioneer/Red Guard/whatever, he traveled to Beijing to see Mao during the late 1950's. My friend's mom (younger sister) also said that she saw Mao during those days, though in Sichuan rather than in Beijing. I guess things were more idealistic during the early days of communist China; food/lodging/travel was free back then since everyone were comrades. The uncle also told me that during the Cultural Revolution, he was sent to the countryside to work at a commune along with his university professors. One of the professors couldn't endure the stress and ended up committing suicide while another one survived to become the dean of a university today.

I just thought it was surrealistic that I, son of a KMT military officer from Taiwan, was sitting in a restaurant in the middle of China, listening to stories from ex-Red Guard members.

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