Thanksgiving Away From Home

My first Thanksgiving away from home! And I survived it, I guess you could say. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, our Chinese teacher mentioned, “What are you guys doing for the holiday tomorrow?” Our first reactions were (there were only three of us) one of surprise and realization, Thanksgiving just snuck up on us. I didn’t notice before how much those change of merchandise and decorations in stores signal the arrival of holidays for me. Now that they aren’t here, I can appreciate them more, haha. So we thought about it, and decided to go with some Americans we know to a buffet, Western preferred.

The kind of “Western” restaurants that can be found in China mainly just have hamburgers and pizza…that is definitely not Thanksgiving material. We were searching for roasted turkey, corn, mashed potatoes, and gravy. Another group of Americans we knew found out about a buffet in a nice restaurant across town, the type of food we wanted was advertised to be there, but it was 270 RMB, so we were reluctant. Patrick and I looked into the expat Tianjin website to find suggestions but there was nothing!

On Thanksgiving morning I went to grammar class (it is practically useless but the teacher is funny) and got an ambiguous text message from one of my Chinese friends. She wrote, “Happy Thanksgiving! What are you going to do later?” I consulted two classmates and the funny teacher to figure out that she probably wanted an invite, so I mentioned we were going to a buffet around 7pm and she did jump on it, so I guess I was right. I was busy that day practicing for a competition (I will describe it in the next post), but Patrick found another buffet to go to (168 RMB). Sure, it was Japanese food, but hey, we’re in Asia after all. An Asian Thanksgiving is appropriate.

Henry, Avi, Xiang Wen (the Chinese friend who wanted an invite), and I headed over to the restaurant. The interior was really nice and we were seated in front of the chef on the open grill. Avi and Patrick annoyed me at the beginning, they were arguing over seat arrangements because they both had girls coming and wanted the seats to be just right. Then the both of them had this crazy idea that our Chinese-American friend, Hank, might have a crush on Xiang Wen, so they started pestering me to switch seats so I wasn’t between them. This whole attempted love fest set me off, and I stormed off to the bathroom, when I got back my plate was switched and she was sitting next to Hank anyways. Sneaky bastards. I forgave them after some all-you-can-drink sake and beer, though. But now onto the most important part, the food! The menu items were SO expensive, so having the all you can eat and drink buffet was a great deal. We literally held the menu and pointed to everything just saying, “Bring six servings of this/that”, it was quite liberating. We had a little bit of everything; there was steak, duck, pork, shark, bullfrog, snail, and horse…though I sadly was too stuffed to order the horse at the end. The frog tasted amazing, it’s like a cross between fish and chicken. Everything was amazingly seasoned and I did not regret my first Thanksgiving without turkey~

After stuffing ourselves to within an inch of our lives, we stayed there until 10:30drinking and chatting, then when the restaurant shut down, we moved the drinking and chatting over to Helen’s Bar. The place was packed with friends and acquaintances so it was a very fun way to spend the holiday.

The ending kind of sucked though, one of the people in the Spanish group was going back to Spain the next day, so they wanted to go karaoke. I should have paid attention to the troubling signs. There is a fantastic KTV right in front of our university, but when I suggested we go there instead of the far one they wanted they said, “There are no English songs there right?” To which I negated, this KTV has the most up to date American song list I’ve found in Tianjin, and it’s convenient. I wondered how they could have missed that, but persevered anyways. It literally took 45 minutes to get people “ready” to go, by then I had had enough, I started shepherding people out of the bar like they were sheep! I then helped everyone get in cabs and find the way to the KTV. Annoyingly, when the first half of us arrived (nine in total), we had to wait for the other nine, who all happened to be the Spanish people and the REASON why we were there. Because they were slacking, I went to the counter and got the room reserved. After they all arrived no one was making the initiative, so I started collecting the 13 RMB per person, while doing this, I also had to teach the others how to order songs off the machine. No wonder they thought there were no English songs, they were typing in the full name of the song, in KTV you are only supposed to type the initials. After hunting each person down for money, I went down to pay, and when I got back it was a mess. Songs were being played that no one had any idea how to sing, people were screeching into microphones (when they didn’t know the lyrics they would just curse into it), not to mention the machine was apparently still a mystery, because someone kept accidentally hitting the repeat button half way through the song. After twenty minutes, Avi, Josh (another American), and I got the hell up out of there. Unfortunately in my haste I forgot my cell phone…I got it back the next day after some unnecessary hassle. Regardless of the end, it was a fun Thanksgiving…even if there was no turkey. 🙂

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