princess parties and lazy dim-sum(day).

Dance dance dance. When my friend asked me to join her for a prom party, I was like ‘hmmm, really now?!’ But after a glorious day amongst the twinkly sand, I was energised and I wanted to dance. So off we whisked into the sunny full-moonish night for some dancing and cocktails. Prom party was no understatement, people went all out. In my cheap black tutu and gothic mesh bow thingy, I thought I would fit in after not fitting in all day on the beach, but yet again I was the odd one out. The girls really did want to win the title of prom princess. Long, flowing red gowns, stiletto skyscraper heels, and then me, in my little ballet flats and leggings, covering my crispy red legs from too much sun. Tasty.

The party was above this delicious noodle bar, and it was the perfect location for some dancing on a warm, summery spring evening. A giant bird cage, purple velvet sofas, midnight black candles and a white vespa for the typical ‘prom’ photos completed the scene. The DJ’s played music from the 40s through to the 80s and it was such a razzle. We drank summery jungle juice and my tutu moved as freely as she liked, seeing as she had almost the whole dance floor to herself, minus a Chinese Napolean Dynamite and her dance partner, Miss Eris. Sadly I didn’t get to be the princess of the prom, being minus a prince and all, but it was so fun! Old black and white movies were playing in the background and I was jiving like I was right in the movie. Wearing ballet shoes was a good choice.( I’ve been debating high heels all week. I shall discuss that one later). I was jumping and jamming and the other girls in their high heels were standing on the sidelines slightly shimmying. Then to leave and for it to still be boiling hot, dreamy.

A night of dancing followed by a late morning stroll through a secret mountainous area with the smell of spring flowers blowing ever so gently around us. As we descended from the mountain we were welcomed by more green. A lake, green grass, traditional Chinese music flowing from the pagoda. Heavenly. Who would have thought such tranquility and lazy sunday vibes could be found so deep in the city?! A hidden gem if ever I saw. We decided upon a quaint, wooden-looking, traditional little restaurant for some brunch. A rusty bronze teapot, two tiny china-white teacups, and flowers everywhere. We nibbled on bright-orange buckwheat cake and triangle-shaped fried potato cakes. And of course some rice noodles from Yunnan. I wanted a chocolate danish and some fruit, but hey, I’m in China. So noodles it was.

Lazy like a sunday morning. And just as we finished our oaky tasty tea, the clouds began to move and a black dragon swallowed up the sky and the fluorescent pink lightning bolts appeared and I ran home and sat, amazed at the beauty, from my 15th floor apartment. The entire city was coated in this black sky, the skyline like something out of a sci-fi end of the world type movie. It was eerily mesmerising to watch.

And now…the calm after the storm. Expensive imported cadbury’s chocolate and apple juice from a dusty tea cup, with The Darkness playing some tunes from the care-free days of being 15.

post-dancing.

rusty teapot.

the horsies are galloping to shelter from the coming storm.

crazy dragon storm.

oh I do like to be beside the seaside….

Beaches in China are…interesting. The perfect place for a spot of old-fashioned people watching. I have no idea where they get their beach fashion inspiration from. It is hilarious. I noticed it a couple of years ago on Hainan island. Everyone was wearing matching Hawaiian shorts and t’shirts. Then, again on Xiachuan island, the same again. If you’re not wearing matching sets, you ain’t cool.
 Chinese beaches have one area designated for swimmers. And it is madness. I’ve never seen so many people squeezing into one tiny area, when there is a whole ocean surrounding them! It’s because the majority of them can’t swim. It’s not part of the education programme here and I guess it’s just not forced upon them as much as it is to people in the West. I remember clinging to the edge of the dingy little pool that my Mum made me take swimming lessons in every week. Horrid. But hey, I can swim, which means I don’t have to stay in that little ocean zoo and cart a rubber ring around the beach with me.
Back to the fashion side of things. I’ve been wearing the same bikini for a couple years now, because well, let’s just say the choice in China is ‘limited.’ Unless you want to wear a full-on knee length skirt and a vest, then you’re not going to want to purchase swimwear in China town. Never before have I felt so naked in swimwear. I thought I could just blend in and enjoy the sun, but clearly being the pasty white girl in a real bikini wasn’t going to help disguise the fact that I was the only foreign girl on the beach. There was no hiding that. Oh Scottish skin. So yes people stared alot and seemed bewildered to see someone actually wearing so little on the beach. Wonder how they’d react to someone going topless? HA!
One individual who stood out to me in particular was a young girl wearing the typical Chinese bikini, but not only that, she was also sporting a red suit jacket. Not a special jacket for swimming. Oh no. Just your average red suit jacket you’d wear to a wedding or to the office. I laughed and was waiting for her to take it off. Nope. She just grabbed her big blue rubber ring, and jumped into the sea, suit jacket and all. And she stayed there for a good hour. Just floating about in her red suit jacket. Inside her rubber ring. It was so bizarre. Surely she was burning up inside there. On the other hand, maybe she thought I was the crazy one wearing a tiny bikini.
Everyone else on the beach was wearing jeans. We even saw a guy in a suit, with his trousers rolled up for good measure. And the ladies were adorned in pearls and 1940s style straw hats. It looked like they were going to a wedding. Oh, on the topic of weddings, this beach seemed to be the dream location for wedding photos. I was waiting in the line for the toilet and was astounded to see girls wearing ball gowns and fake eyelashes and all sorts. Clearly I missed the memo about beach wear in China. Thank goodness when I realised they’re here for their wedding photos. My little blue sun dress looked like rags compared to those glamaramas.
It’d be too normal for people to be playing frisbee or volleyball or just sunbathing right? The most popular activities on this Chinese beach were to bury your friends in the sand, complete with jeans, shoes etc. Can you spell uncomfortable?! And of course to giggle at the three crazy foreigners in beach wear. (That’d be us then).
Despite the stares and amusement at the fashion choices of the day, and dodging the gazillion umbrellas, (no it was not raining, white skin here is the dream, lucky me- that might be why I got such hideous stares for actually sunbathing and getting a little colour) I had a jolly good time. The beach was pretty nice, contrary to what I’d previously heard. Hey if there’s sea and sand and sun, and a sneaky little cloud in the sky that’s going to shade me in times of great need, I’m happy. That’s what happens when you live in a big ol’ dusty grey city. Any beach will do. This beach even had a special way of keeping track of how many people were on the beach. At one time I saw there was over 8000! Now that’s alot of people for one small beach. Keep in mind most of them were congregated in the zoo area. When we took a walk around the cliff edges, we looked back and all we could see were thousands of tiny people. Looked like a giant music festival, but no, just another day on the beach in China.
We left the beach feeling refreshed, if a little burnt. OK I got very burnt. The smell of sun-lotion emanating all around, sand stuck in my air, salt everytime I licked my lips, and the crunch of sand in my mouth. Lovely. I never realised how close I live to the beach now. I shall definitely be going there more often. Might even buy myself a 1940s style hat especially for swimming. Seems to be all the rage. Of course, I mustn’t forget the red suit jacket. That’s the crucial item right? ;)

Red suit jacket girl

buried alive

those gazillion red specks are people.

summer daze.

A near-miss catastrophe with a rather tall rollerblading gentleman, daintily swishing round the bends of the metro tunnel. Not something I envisioned to expect as I strode through the crawling with crowds space. Never failed to be amazed on my daily commutes. The sun has continually shone on this shadowy city for daze now and it’s sticky and smells like 2009. A familiar smell of early daze in China when once upon a time everything was new and bizarre and foreign. As I entered my Chinese urban paradise of futuristic glass pods and giant chess sets, big enough to play hide and seek behind, I was greeted by a delightfully cute little being. Red bow and sleek black hair and the biggest smile ever. A mature smile, beyond her years and yet ever so sweet at the same time. Today the sun chose this girl to radiate it’s happiness from.

Life is life and well, that’s life. I mustn’t take it too seriously. Or that sand will just filter through my fingers. Loosen the grasp. That’s the key. Yes, I keep telling myself that.

The tea-cup lady and her trusty company remind me of this. I bought a lovely tea-cup and saucer from tea-cup lady who lives in the bushes by the side of my road. Such dainty little cups and saucers. A colourful assortment to brighten up a dusty road. Exposed treasures, and yet no one seems to purchase them. I wonder why? Don’t they want a pretty tea-cup?

Again, the sun makes everything brighter, literally. Mountain hikes (OK cable car hikes) and lake-side reading in scruffy old pagodas. Star-shaped rice, of course. Basement Italian food and pancakes with fried bananas. Train rides that transport my senses back to Scotland and for one moment trick me into thinking I’m really on a train from Edinburgh to Leuchars. The soft beat of Semifinalists in my ears, and the blurry green, mixed with Industrial silver, flurry by and my mind forgets, just for a second, where I really am.

The sun beats down, through the dust and smog, and my black tutu sways to and fro as seen from my glass pod. A silent ballerina, just doing her thing, whatever that may be.