The train ride from Beijing to Tianjin is far less expressive than the one to Wuhan but the first class seats we all opt for are certainly worth the minimal RMB difference. The highspeed bullet train whizzes through grey expanses dotted with scraggly green shoots. By the time we arrive in the 12 million strong “suburb” of Beijing, our early morning feast at my old chwar skewer and edamame stand (seated on small stools with the family who helped me practice my Mandarin in May) has worn off and we are hungry for Tianjin’s dumplings that “even the dog wouldn’t eat.” They are famous for their deliciousness despite their misleading name. From hot plastic bags we poke into them with chopsticks, chili oil and glee on our way to 13 Club.
13 Club is located in the “Little Italy” quarters of Tianjin and though the faux marble statues, gaudy fountains and Italian souvenirs intend to trick the visitor into a Mediterranean dream, it ends up feeling more Chinese in it’s confusing approximations. Dan and I drink Campari Sodas all evening in order to keep in the right “spirits.” The show itself feels like a house party, small enough to make the speakers bleed but large enough to make you feel like you have the most friends in the world. Lydia has come from Beijing and we dedicate much of the set to her being there. And, because it truly feels like we are playing amongst friends, the stage banter gets uglier and funnier as the night progresses. Masturbation and Seinfeld jokes. It’s a small turnout but the rowdiest of the tour.
Back in our pink plush hotel room, Han Xia and I sprawl across the large bed and talk about politics and relationships before we allow Dan to clamber in as well. We fall asleep, restlessly wishing we all had longer with each other. Good night sweet girl, we’ll see you soon.