Beijing’s Little California

In the northeast corner of Beijing, between the third and fourth ring roads, exists a neighborhood called Lido (pronounced lee-DOO), where large stand-alone restaurants line a long strip of street, foreigners stream into Starbucks and Baskin Robbins, and I spent an evening last weekend with my friends, eating at a restaurant called Eudora Station and, amazingly, going bowling.

The twenty lanes at Lido Place were fitted with high-tech Brunswick equipment, electronic scoring systems, and fluorescent bowling balls with holes perfectly spaced for my hands–small by American standards but seemingly average here in China. We had a wild time, drinking Asahi until at one point one of us released a bowling ball in the wrong direction, letting it fly out toward her amused and frightened friends (that was me, but shhhhhh). R. fell a bunch of times, as she told us beforehand she was certain to do, and then on the way out lifted a small pumpkin from in front of a shop in the lobby, with which we proceded to play catch until we got in a taxi on our way back to our part of town. The cabbie taught us how to say “pumpkin” in Chinese–it’s nangua–although I never did learn how to say “bowling,” and we convinced him to take it from us as a gift. In any case, the experience was a bit surreal, as there was even a group of expat middle school students bowling and causing trouble in the lane next to us. I don’t think I have ever felt less like I was in a foreign country before in my experience. It was disconcerting, but also great fun–it may happen again this weekend, although I’m pushing for karaoke on my last weekend in Beijing before I head down to Hangzhou on Monday (or Tuesday, but probably Monday) for a month and then New York for three weeks.

Posted by on November 10th, 2005

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