random detours

February 4th, 2008

American football always struck me as a painfully slow game to watch. It’s more like chess than it’s distant cousin also named 橄榄球. I did watch the Superbowl once several years ago in the sports bar at Gloria Plaza, and it was reasonably exciting- or at least, being surrounded by hundreds of Americans all excited about the Superbowl gave it the atmosphere necessary to keep me awake at that absurdly early hour those of us in China watch American sports thanks to the timezone difference. And yes, at least half the people present were talking loudly about how much they were looking forward to seeing the ads. My friends, who, fortunately for my own sanity, were there to watch the game, explained what that was about, as have other Americans since, but still: I don’t get it. Anyway, this morning I came across the link to Yahoo’s coverage of the Superbowl and decided to check it out. I might as well be trying to read Swedish. Still, I think I know what the score is, so far. But I think it’s going to finish too late for me to follow it all the way through, I have to run over to the electricity buying office this morning. Oh, wait, it’s the 4th quarter already…

And now for some questions from yesterday afternoon’s wanderings: Is Nanluoguxiang already being invaded by “backpackers”? And does the latest Lonely Planet have a section detailing the “backpacker” uniform?

“Scarequotes” because considering what backpacking was supposed to be all about, I find it hard to believe an actual backpacker would use a guidebook (and certainly not Lonely Planet, the world’s most popular guide to banana pancakes) or follow any particular fashion.

But there I was with Allan walking down Nanluoguxiang (which we’d found our way to purely by accident taking random turns through hutongs) and we saw a gaggle of four, clearly tourists, a middle-aged man and woman, and a young man and woman. Family group, perhaps? Anyway, there they were in their North Face jackets, cargo pants with a billion pockets whose only use is to be picked, hiking boots, and the middle-aged woman with two of those ridiculous supercool, sporty walking sticks that look like they were originally intended to help serious mountain climbers scale Himalayan peaks. Walking down Nanluoguxiang, a perfectly (well, almost) flat, paved lane in bone dry weather. And no, she looked to be in perfect health and just as fit as any other affluent Western woman of her age. And this group were not the only people we passed wearing the “backpackers” uniform. And we stopped in Passby Bar, and one of the first things I saw was a wall lined with Lonely Planets. That’s never a good sign.

Enough of being sarcastic and judgemental. Now, unless the game ends by the time I get this posted, I better go buy this electricity.

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