Thursday, June 24, 2010

This hotel never disappoints

My room has two TVs. It came with a complimentary bottle of wine. Dinner was blackened salmon, BBQ ribs, Waldorf salad, red bean soup and New York cheesecake. Servers were dressed in Uncle Sam vests and star-spangled hats. The live band sang "Amazing Grace" and "Stand by Your Man." It was amusing to sit at a table full of Chinese media tasting salty red beans for the first time, which they all found very strange. Much like I found their sweet red beans bizarre the first time I had them. 

All the hotel staff, barring the Australian director of rooms, got sloppy drunk at dinner. When I told the F&B director I "studied Chinese in Taiwan" he got huffy - "why you say Taiwan isn't part of China - it is!" This prompted the Muslim/Han Chinese PR guy next to me to launch into a please-commiserate-with-me explanation of how he loves China but hates the CCP and disdains old-school Chinese people who get sloshed and sing nationalistic songs at hotel dinners. He's well traveled. He doesn't think Taiwan is part of China. And he's investing RMB 5 million in Singapore for five years in order to get a passport of convenience. Lots of rich Chinese people do this. For one, it allows them to send their children to international school (PRC children are not allowed to attend foreign schools).

James' family in Taiwan are all very KMT (i.e. one China). This definitely shaped my perspective in Taiwan. Now that I'm in China though, I feel more protective of Taiwan. The KMT mode of diplomacy still seems more pragmatic, but on the other hand - Taiwan has a hell of a lot to lose. I think if more people in Taiwan visited the mainland they'd get a feel for just how much.

The F&B director got particularly smashed. He asked me to sing an American song with him, explaining that he knows a lot of American songs. Then he told me all Asian people love America, but not him. 'And that is your right, sir.' is what I felt like saying, but he was already stumbling off.

I'm on the 39th floor, I have a great view of Suzhou. 

Basically, life is good. Thanks, Shangri-La.

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