My first night in Kundu was short, as we arrived at 4 in the morning after hanging out in “The Club” for most of the night. “The Club” was a small, cramped space, filled with smoke and loud music, with only a few people dancing and many more standing around trying to look cool. Looking cool in China for a male requires 3 things: a beer in one hand, a cigarette in the other, and an upturned head of styled hair. None of this was my idea of cool. After our group of foreigners “danced” for what seemed like hours, we piled into taxis to find the party, which some people assured us would be at Kundu. At this time I was tired, sober, and smelled like smoke and Belgian beer; already a bad combination that would later make my body pay a price.
Kundu is miserable place. It is as if the worst parts of the party lifestyle all collectively decided to arrange themselves at this one place, part Jersey Shore, part Vegas, and part Wangfujing. At all hours of the night the place reeks of desperation—a desperation to find out where “the party is at” (hint: it is never there). Kundu is always more of a Kundon’t®, and every time I go there (not often) I feel like I’m beating away any sense of childhood innocence I still have with cheap beer and cigarette smoke. But we arrive at Kundu, stand outside Mask, the foreigner hangout, and I announce that I’m going home. I had made this decision before I got there, but, still being a Kundu virgin, I had to check it out according to “reputable sources”. We are told by a few people that David is dead (a club, not a person), the Mask is closing down, and Muse is full of Chinese girlfriends vomiting on their Chinese boyfriends. Dante’s 10th level of hell: Kundu. The place where the party goes to die. But it doesn’t go down easy. Like Orwell’s elephant, it gasps and sputters (mostly vomit), writhing around in the four in the morning filth, and with one sight of this so-called “party”, I knew that I would seldom return to this place.
Three English girls who had joined our party at “The Club,” said they lived around my area, and offered to share a cab with me. I agreed. Mistake. I should have paid the extra 10 kuai to have a peaceful ride home—all I really wanted at 4 in the morning. They were drunk beyond belief, each one speaking in slurred British accents that sounded like a mix between Andy Rickman and Emma Watson, if you could imagine such a monstrosity. We hailed a cab, the shifu was a man with one crooked yellow tooth.
“We want to go to wenlinjie,” they yell at the cab driver, who just looks at them with a puzzled face as they pile into the back. I barely understand them, and they were supposed to be speaking English. I tell the driver that yes, we are indeed going to Wenlinjie. He understands, and points the car in the direction of home. The three of them sit chattering in the back as if I don’t understand, and although it is difficult with the Andy Rickman speed of their speech, I am an English speaker, and could easily tell when the conversation turns towards me.
“Do you think he understands?” one girl says to the other, fixing her miniskirt by pushing her back into the seat and pulling down with both her hands. Gross, I think. At this point, I really want another beer. One of the girls taps me on the shoulder.
“Hello,” she says in her British accent, which is lilting and annoying and pretentious. I turn around, and picture her wearing clothes from Downton Abbey, her hair pinned up in a neat bun, wearing a large umbrella like dress. She actually wasn’t bad looking. “Your English is very good,” she says with a smile, “did you study abroad in Britain?” Oh fuck no.
“I’m American. From San Francisco,” I say, over the steady rumble of the car’s shifting gears. I can’t think of anything else to say. I want to yell at this girl, tell her that I fucking teach English here, and yes, I’ve been understanding everything you bloody pissed Brits are saying you bloody idiots.
“Oh, so did your parents only speak Chinese to you as a kid?” Strike two. Thankfully the car stops. We have arrived. Cheers.
I end up walking one of the girls home to Shida, a five-minute walk from Wenlinjie that makes my trip home even longer. I wanted a shower, a bed, some water, but I offered out of courtesy, so I had to pay the price.
Before we left, her two friends look at me, and say in their pretentious accents, “If he tries any funny business, just call us, okay?” Strike three. I look at them aghast, and with the patience and resolve of a drunken saint, I turn and walk this bloody Briton home.