Well, after we finally got settled in our hotel around 2 am, J suggested that we go and get foot massages at a place she knew that was open all night. Although a bit nervous, I was in! I must say that it was the best massage EVER! For one hour, we sat and had our feet and legs massaged. First they brought out huge wooden tubs of steaming water with assorted herbs and flowers for us to soak our feet. While they soaked, they massaged our back and neck. Then all sorts of fabulous things happened to our feet, which refreshed us greatly. Below is one of the many photos they asked us to take of them.
However, our peaceful respite was suddenly disturbed by first girls, then men, then police running by the room (there were large windows to see out.) Our girls ran out into the hall to see what was up. Apparently, one of the local mafia (their words, not mine-who knows?) decided he wanted a, shall we say, more inventive massage and the masseuse refused. A struggle ensued, and her arm was injured. Let's just say that the water I was drinking suddenly became a little less potent than I desired at that point! Heck, I was almost ready to suck the remaining Maker's Mark out of my clothes, but I worried about glass shards...
We safely left, after paying about $7 USD for both of our massages (talk about a deal!)
Then to what became our favorite hangout after working all day: the alley! There were these little restaurants, all open to the alleyway. As you walked up they pulled out random wooden or plastic tables and chairs for you to sit in. First on the menu: Pearl River Beer! Actually I learned to love it while I was there. AND it only cost about $0.125 each after the bottle refund for a litre.
The next event was quite strange to me. Porcelain bowls, glasses, wooden chopsticks and a teapot full of steaming herbed water were placed on our table. J showed me the deal: you apparently had to disinfect your own eating and drinking apparatus. We poured the herbed water into the glasses and swirled it around the entire glass several times. We then poured it from the glasses into the bowls. Next step: submerge the drinking side of the glass into said water to get that part well, then swirl around the eating end of the chopsticks. When that process is done, you simply dump it on the ground.
Several dishes were ordered by J, but I stuck to my sustenance during most of the trip: a wonderful "hot and sour" potato dish. They were julienned and stir fried with some scallions and a few red peppers, along with some seasoning I don't have any idea about. I loved this because my idea of meat is quite different than the local fare of a little bit of mystery meat on a bone, which J would pop in her mouth and literally suck the meat off of before spitting the bone on the ground. Needless to say, I dropped about 10 pounds during the few weeks that I was there!
We enjoyed all of this as we watched the rats run on the power lines above us and dogs run around (of which I was leery as they apparently don't get many rabies shots there, or so I was told.)
Around 4:30 am we stumbled, er... walked, back to the hotel for some rest.
Here's a pic of our chef and staff (note the rubber wading boots...) and J. You can see the lady in the pink shirt leaning on our chair, directly behind her is the kitchen, and to the right is another restaurant. I wonder what their rating is?