11 September, 2007

The Confucius Teahouse

I have a confession to make, and it's a bit embarrassing. When I travel, I like to wear a cowboy suit. I know, it's weird, but it's true - full Texan style. It's one of my quirks.

Also, and I know this sounds a bit odd, but (even if a safe city like Beijing), I sometimes feel safer wearing parts of medieval armour, sometimes just the greaves or breastplate. It just makes me feel less vulnerable in an uncertain world.

Often, these are hard to clean - especially the suede material of the cowboy outfit. Imagine, then, my delight when I found the following on my hotel laundry list:

[click for detail]

Unable to avoid the attentions of my previously-described snoring Israeli roommate, I ended up going to see some temples with him. Thankfully, because I had to make some 'phonecalls to arrange to meet some friends here, I eventually had the opportunity to part ways, and he disappeared off in the direction of Tian'anmen Square. This left me outside the Kong Miao (Confucian "Cathedral" temple of sorts) with my freedom regained. Walking up a narrow hutong [traditional old alleyway], I came across a sign on a dark, nondescript building that simply read "Tea Ceremony". Wary of tourist traps, I tentatively entered.

The result was a fairly genuine gongfucha experience, with a sincere and unassumingly gentle staff of girls in qipao operating the teapots. I slowly worked my way through some tieguanyun (fairly decent) and some surprisingly decent old shengpu, while I wrote my diary. Just out of shot to the right was a bookcase whose contents look just like one we have at home, even down to the Lin Yutang. I know Lei would love this place, it's hard to enjoy it without her.

They had weiqi ["Go"] sets in heavy marble to play with, and (I'm sorry about this) I did manage to score some kudos by placing the classical "guqin" music playing as being that from Guangling (I cheated, because it's a CD Lei and I listen to at home a lot). I was mentally high-fiving myself at this point.

Little else in tea-related news to report, except thanks to MarshalN for the surprising 'phonecall while I was in a taxi to some touristy bar area by a lake! I bet you didn't know that MarshalN's accent is thick Irish. It's like talking to the leprachaun from the "Lucky Charms" adverts.*

Today: a bit more Maliandao.

P.s. Israeli roommate ditched for a silent Chinese PhD student. Even better, when I came in last night, even he had packed all his stuff and moved out, leaving me blessedly alone!

*Actual facts may deviate from description provided.


xdustinx said...

This might be the best blog entry you've ever made.

hster said...

You left out your striped fur undergarments. You had me quite fooled for a few sentences. Anyway thanks for the laugh.


Mary R said...

Cowboy suit...there are no words. The one that really gets me is the listing for armor. Do they do the swords and lances with the armor, or is that a separate charge?

MarshalN said...

You know, I considered recommending you to go this very teahouse, but you found it yourself, good!

I've been there a few times. It's a very nice place to sit and relax, if nothing else. Not the best tea, but it's a good location.

They also sell some pretty reasonably priced teaware that are reasonably made.

speakfreely said...

Wow. Like Hster, you really had me going there for a while.

Nice to find a teahouse that feels like your own living room! About 15 years ago, certain coffeehouses around Baltimore started using second-hand domestic furniture, couches, coffeetables, etc. to create cozy little corners that one could curl up in with a book, or sit for hours with friends playing scrabble or chess. It was always nice to have a home-away-from-home kind of place to go to.

~ Phyll said...

Ha-ha-ha! Very funny indeed. I wonder what sort of armor-clad guests the hotel gets.

Marshaln speaks with an Irish accent? : )

MarshalN said...

Some say it sounds more like Welsh...

MarshalN said...

So the roommate ditched you?

What sort of loud activities were you doing at night? Ahem...

Hobbes said...

Thanks for the comments all! I can read them but can barely respond due to the super-annoying Chinese proxy workarounds. Hang in there!


Steven Dodd said...

Fur cloth, good! When I travel, I don my animal skin loincloth and associated drapery. It's all quite soft and warm, but it's tough to clean.

Vee said...

That was way too funny. I thought you were for real until I got to the part about the armour.

Just got back from a tea-related trip to Darjeeling. This time of yeat it's easy to keep clothing clean, but keeping it dry is a whole other matter. I hope your laundry experiences continue to be humorous rather than illness-inducing. Enjoy your trip!