Maintaining a great work-life balance is an important part of any IBD project. Some of my colleagues on Team Tekes will no doubt write about the diligent effort we are putting forth for our clients in Finland. I, on the other hand, have chosen to focus more on the life portion of our balancing act. Specifically, my goal is to provide you a glimpse of our nightlife experiences while in China.
Our mission was to sample a variety of nightlife options while in the country, a task made easier by our client’s 9-to-5 schedule. The first week, we were in Shanghai exploring a number of street side bars. Some of the newer areas, Xintiandi and Tianzifang in particular, were recently redeveloped to appear like ancient alleyways or “hutongs”. In the Tianzifang area, we found a nice little bar where we could sit street side and gaze at passersby while we sipped on local beer dispensed from a beer tower. I enjoyed spending some time relaxing with my IBD teammates on a warm Shanghai evening.
The same week, we celebrated Jessica J’s birthday by going to a karaoke bar called Party World where we were joined by some non-IBD Haasies. Karaoke in China is a totally different ballgame from the one we are used to in the states. Take away the raucous hordes of drunken twenty-somethings in a crowded college pub and add private rooms, nice décor, and personal service at your beckon. Their song selection contained most of the recent American hits and despite the awkward footage of travel videos that accompanied the mainly pirated music, we thoroughly enjoyed bellowing out some MJ in true Haas fashion. Our room came with a small stage, two microphones, cups and dice for a Chinese drinking game I don’t know how to play, and sliced watermelons. We ordered a bottle of vodka and beers to top it off. In total, we paid less than $20 USD per person.
Our last night in Shanghai introduced us to an exciting mix of ex-pat and local nightlife. One of our other classmates, Matt L., spent a good portion of his young adult years leading the ex-pat party scene here in Shanghai. A local legend, he was kind enough to invite us to a mixer where we mingled with a diverse group of Brits, Americans, French, and ex-patriots of other nationalities. Shanghai has a particularly large and active population of ex-pats, most of them studying or working for international companies doing business in China. After dinner, the ladies migrated to a lounge called Sugar while Aaron and I found ourselves heading over to Club 88 to check out the local clubbing scene. This club can only be described as a circus. There was no line to get in, yet the place was completely crowded with live performers, people playing dice games, businessmen being loud and obnoxious, yuppies stumbling around intoxicated, and lots of what I was later told to be mafia types at their own private tables. As I was running on little sleep, I left relatively early by China standards (1AM) to rest up for the flight to Beijing the next morning.
The following week, we hit up the Beijing nightlife scene with renewed vigor. On night number one, we visited Sanlitun, an area of Beijing located near all of the foreign embassies. There was a little street full of neon-lit bars and doormen trying to draw you into their establishments. We sat down outdoors at a hookah lounge and smoked a little hookah while sipping on more local beers. Then we stumbled upon another bar called Swing with a live performance by a band from the Philippines. They played mostly American songs and though only half of the bar patrons might have understood the words, it was great fun dancing to the tunes.
The next evening, we ventured out to Wangfujing night market to explore a well-known tourist trap. Several of the food stalls sold little critters on a stick that you can pay to have deep fried. I had come here back in January with the Haas China Trek and tried the scorpion but was not feeling up to the task this time around. So I passed on the fried scorpion, the skewered snake, and the tarantula kebabs. I decided to save my adventurism for the bear meat in Finland. Our next stop in Beijing was a mixer held by the Haas Alumni Association in Beijing at a restaurant and bar in Sanlitun. We were joined by the Mayfield Fellows and a couple of new admits from Beijing which served as a warm reminder that Haas is truly all over the world.
Our last night out in Beijing, we decided to go all out by visiting one of the hottest clubs in the city, Xiu. We arrived rather late (at 11PM) and found ourselves at the back of a hopelessly long line. But luckily for Team Tekes, Aaron T. likes to challenge the status quo. Through conversations with another club-goer, he happened to pick up on the name “Vince” as someone who is apparently well connected with the club. Within minutes, Aaron had managed to smoothly talk his, and our, way into the club. After all, we are friends of Vince right?
My guess is that Aaron failed Ethics class.
Ironically, some of our team members spotted Professor Vogel, the Ethics instructor, in Helsinki on the final leg of our journey.
Gan bei! (literally, “dry cup” in Mandarin),