Chapter 15: Return to Boston
Translated by me, edited by Kai.
The sounds of dripping water can be heard as a group of almost naked men walk towards the clear warm pool. They sat down on one side of the pool and watched whatever T.V. show is being broadcasted on the opposite wall.
Bathing, a completely different concept in the North than in the South.
Bath houses in the south existed centuries ago, but they all disappeared within the last couple of decades. It is not because of a lack of water, or the lukewarm weather during winter. Rather, compared to paying money for a bath, boiling water and washing at home is much more economical. Especially when you can take a bath whenever you want. Due to these reasons, bathhouses in the south disappeared. The ones that still exist are the ones that offer ‘special’ services (1). Of course there still are some traditional ones, but they are really hard to find.
So if a northerner tell a southerner that he is going to take a bath in a bath house, the southerner will mistaken him for going to get you know what and not really a bath. The ‘special’ services in the north tend to be based around the massage parlour.
Winter is really cold in the North, so most families do not have the ability to fund themselves to take a bath whenever they want. Thus keeping the bath housing sector healthy and running. As more and more people began to accept bathing in public baths, it to the development of bathing culture. For example a soaking bath, a rubbing bath, salting and so on. These all count as distinguishing features in northern bathing houses, especially when some of the bathing houses in the south don’t even have things like scrubbing towels. They would use shower sponges or regular towels as replacement, but to the northerners you can’t really scrub yourself clean with them.
After having bathing houses for so long, people still have the habit of taking a bath in a bathing house. Even if they have boilers at home. A cold shower a day in the summer to keep the people cool and refreshed. A warm shower every couple of days during the winter, but this still can’t stop people from going to bathing houses every couple of weeks.
Jiang Hai is a pure northerner. So of course he loves to take baths. Harbin is within the province of Heilongjiang, so it is never missing sources of fresh water, especially when it contains 2 of the 5 the longest rivers in China; the Amur River and the Songhua River. As such, the concept of water shortages in the north is never present near Harbin. This is also why it can become the breadbasket of the whole nation. Being influenced by his parents since he was young, Jiang Hai fell in love with soaking baths in particular. No northern men can reject the idea of taking a soak especially when you can enjoy your favorite beverage on the side.
“You’re going to develop in America from now on?” Seeing Jiang Hai enjoying himself, Fu Yuan asked after taking a sip of his tea.
“En. If there aren’t any accidents, then yes, I will be earning my riches there.” Answered Jiang Hai.
“He is investing there. If he doesn’t go develop there, then it is a pity. Besides, there are all those beautiful women in America (2).” Xiang Hua butted in at exactly this moment.
“Fk dude, did you get rejected by you wife too hard recently? The first thing you think of in America is women. Is that their specialty?” Xu Wei exploded with a look of despise upon hearing what Xiang Hua had to say.
“Exactly, what is there to women? Especially with that size 8 piece of Jiang Hai’s, how can it fit into a size 16 nut? (3)” Huang Yuanfei cut in with a half joking half malicious comment.
“What the Fk! You guys are actually looking down on my 22cm steel rod?” Jiang Hai taunted angrily.
This banter shouldn’t be taken seriously, but Jiang Hai has found out recently that he is entering puberty again. As his body was turning stronger, it is also changing. Originally Jiang Hai is only 6″2′ but recently it feels like he has somehow gotten taller. This is definitely inexplicable.
“Sh*t man, if you had a 22cm steel rod the why is your wife still in Beijing?” Hearing Jiang Hai’s taunt, Fu Yuan asked back. Among friends there is no point in hiding embarrassing stories, they’ll drag it all out.
“She never gave me the chance to show off this magnificent masterpiece.” Jiang Hai answered back with a look full of disdain plus a bunch of curses.
Hearing this, everyone bursted out laughing since they all know the whole story. The heavy atmosphere was quickly diluted a lot.
“If you guys got time in the future, you can come to my place to hang. I’ll cover all but airplane expenses.” Jiang Hai said to all of these close friends.
To be frank, he really doesn’t care if he pays for their tickets or not, but he’s still got save some face for these buddies of his (4). Even if he wants to cover all their expenses, they won’t agree to it.
“You said it. Just wait for all of us to come at once and wreck this tyrant (5).” Hearing Jiang Hai’s offer, the whole group smiled.
“Of course, don’t worry about it.”
Soon, everyone went to get a rub down, then a massage in the lounge. It is obviously clear to the regulars that it doesn’t matter what type of massage you get, all the masseurs are male. The only girls here are the ones providing health care treatments, and they all look very, um, normal? In some places, these masseuse will massage into some sensitive area, but here it is all normal. Also when you see their faces, you will without a doubt lose all interest in whatever you were thinking of doing.
After the massage they went into the sauna. While in the sauna there are many different activities such as chess, chinese checkers, watching T.V. and so on. They fooled around till past 10 before disbanding. As for Jiang Hai, he rented a room upstairs and stayed here for the night.
The next day, Jiang Hai met up with the family and handed this completed documents to the housing management office for transfer of ownership. There is a wait period of 10 days before the transfer becomes active, as such Jiang Hai needs to stay here for an extra 10 days.
At the same time, Jiang Hai can properly get together with this band of misfits. He found a random 3 star hotel and opened a room as temporary residence. The following 10 days, can only be described as 10 nights of party. Mainly because everyone drove on the first day so they couldn’t drink.
These few days can be considered to be giving Jiang Hai farewell dinners so everyone rotated for the bills. Everybody also drank to their delight. If you really want to bring it up then Harbin has three specialties. One is the ice lanterns. The annual ice and snow show in Harbin is the city’s biggest label.
The second would be the food here. such as ice cream, bread and stuff. However to the locals, they prefer modern popsicles and have no particular interest in any kind of bread. Although the drink ‘kvass’ is another story altogether. There is only 2 brands of kvass on market, the one from wahaha is pretty much a fake. Even though it sells great, but it’s taste it really meh. The one that Jiang Hai drink is from Qiulin. This is the only one that has an authentic taste, not too sweet and retains a wonderful smell of bread. Not only does it help with hangovers, it also helps with hunger.
And thirdly is the beer. Harbin’s beer is the first beer manufactured, and also the first branded beer. Due to good water quality, the crops grown from it are also great, so of course the brewed beer isn’t bad. At the time, it was really hard to sell this beer since it had to compete with Qingdao and Yanjing outside and snowflakes locally. However the true locals love Harbin beer, even if it’s snowflakes, the sales in Harbin is drastically different than that of other parts of the country.
Sadly, Jiang Hai’s love for beer can only be satisfied by dark brews overseas. To be honest Jiang Hai has no good opinion for both dark brews as well as white lagers. Dark brews cost too much and taste like coffee plus beer. White lagers are even more ridiculous since it’s pretty much beer with brandy (6).
Taking of advantage of being in Harbin, they could drink Harbin beer, to his delight. Harbin also has another defining feature. The beautiful girls. It’s advised to approach with caution. It is much better to just enjoy the view, especially since the girls here all have anger management problems. If you really think of them as products then you’ll probably get destroyed in more than one way. Girls in other areas generally have a weak and delicate personality, but these types of girls is too god damn rare in Harbin.
Happy time always goes by quickly, at least in Jiang Hai’ eyes this is true. 10 days passed in a flash. The days go by seriously quick and all you do is eat drink and party.
In the wake of his original house falling under his name again (7) and having bought the stuff that needs to bought and packed the things that need to be packed, he bid farewell to his buddies and got on a plane from Harbin to Beijing. From there he transferred to that airbus and returned to America.
The trip back is the same as the return trip. There is no air route from China directly to Boston, so he needs to transfer enroute from San Francisco, Los Angeles, or Chicago. When he finally returned to his estate, the whole residence had changed.
1. He, special, giggty, alright!
2. They are all Quagmire approved.
3. Kids we’re definitely talking about construction here. Yup. Definitely.
4. Tl: 升米恩，斗米仇 general meaing: people will remember your acts during their times of need and pay back in the same way when you’re in trouble
5. 打土豪 pretty much means we’re gonna leach of you a lot in this case
6. Beer lovers don’t hate me, hate the author!! I’m only the messenger!!
7. Having a green card doesn’t mean you automatically switch your nationality, thus at this point in time Jiang Hai is still a chinese citizen but with the right to stay in america.