Monday, July 24, 2006

Hiking and the deer farm

Last week I had a business dinner with a friend of my company's Chinese partner. The man's name is Mr. Liu, which translates to Mr. Deer. Rather ironically, he owns a farm and raises deer for a living. Apparently deer antler and blood is a high priced item used in many Chinese herbal remedies. Mr. Liu invited the staff to come out to his farm sometime and go hiking in the hills. I was informed by Adam (whom I work with) that Sunday, my one day off for the week would be spent doing just that. I was looking forward to it, but I did not appreciate having my only day off taken away from me.

So, yesterday I was picked up at 9am and a group of us drove out to Mr. Liu's farm. I was rather apprehensive as I had heard stories of people who had been there... I was told they would bleed a deer infront of me and then pass around the blood for everyone to drink. I've had my shots and all, but I'd really rather not tempt fate that much.

We arrived at the farm which is in the mountains around Yantai and started out on our hike. It was an absolutely beautiful day and I quickly became sunburned.

After climbing as far as we could up a ridge (with no path) we turned back and arrived at the farm in time for lunch. I cringed as the first three dishes came out.

Yes, that is fried scorpion, silk worm pupae, and giant month chrysalis. The only one of the three I tried was the scorpion (as I had had it in Beijing before and it wasn't bad). Fortunately, we were also served stewed goose, fried venison, boiled deer antler, chicken soup, veggies, corn-on-the-cob, and some other edible (in my book) foods. In addition to the food, there was PLENTY of ganbei-ing beer, so by the time we left to go back to the factory, everyone expect for our driver was quite drunk. I was rather pleased that we saw no deer being bled or killed and especially that I did not have to drink any deer blood.

When we got back to the factory, Adam wanted everyone to go back to work. I pointed out that no one was quite capable of working, so I told some of the staff to go back to their rooms to sleep. A few of us went out to our new basketball court and played a little HORSE before I decided to go home. I got home and was so tired that I slept for the next six hours or so, woke up, got ready for bed, and slept for another eight hours.

I actually really enjoyed the day!