The trip to Dongguan was a long one. We all set out slightly worse for wear, and ended up on a train that sat stationary at the platform for two hours (!) before finally departing. It wasn’t a great start, but thankfully we were able to find a taxi quickly enough at the other end to take us to our venue and hotel location.
The area of Dongguan we were staying and playing in was Wanjiang, at the Brown Sugar Live House in the Jin’ao Folk Arts District. This little district was very similar to the area in Shenzhen (perhaps a little smaller), with bars, coffee houses, shops and restaurants secluded away from the main roads.
Our host set us up at the hotel and told us to meet her at the venue after we had eaten.
And what a meal! I didn’t get any pictures as we didn’t want to appear rude, but oh my. We sat down in a restaurant across the street from our hotel, and immediately became a source of great amusement for the waitresses. We ordered a few plates – chicken, beef and duck – with much help from the waitress. Because of the low cost and our desire to try lots of different things, we slightly over-ordered, at one point causing her to cry out “Too much!” and practically snatch the menus away to stop us.
What came to the table was the most interesting of our Chinese cuisine experiences. Lots of bones and … unusual parts of the animal. I’d eaten chicken feet before (and seen them frequently on menus during our stay here) but what really stuck out – quite literally – was the whole chicken head, served up in the dish. For the record, Colin said it tasted “fine” but had some surprising textures…
Clearly entertained by our ridiculous Western behaviour, several of the waitresses came over and took pictures with us before we left. Catch us on a Weibo feed near you soon..!
Time for soundcheck. Our host at Brown Sugar had told us that the venue was just around the corner, “near the penguin statue”. We laughed, thinking this was a funny “lost in translation” moment. Shaking off the surprises of dinner, we ventured to the live house, entering the leafy arts district through a huge decorative gate, turning the corner to find… a massive statue of a penguin. No context, nothing to explain Jin’ao’s apparent love for flightless aquatic birds. Just one 10 foot tall penguin in the middle of the pavement.
Tragically, it was too dark to get a photo of this thing. Here’s a .gif instead.
Other huge animals encountered included this GIANT SNAIL:
The Brown Sugar Live House was an incredibly well-appointed bar, coffee house and music venue. Music-themed art adorned the walls and choice vinyl was scattered around the shelves. Shout out to our label mates World Service Project, whose newest album we found amongst other gems!
While setting up, we could hear a group of kids in an adjoining room, enthusiastically singing along to such classics as “The Wheels on the Bus”. They must have loved our soundcheck..! Little doomjazz fans in the making.
The gig itself went great – thanks to everyone in Wanjiang who ventured out on a miserable Wednesday night to see three Scottish weirdos play doomjazz! Everyone at Brown Sugar made us feel very welcome, continuing our run of great shows in China – and our run of wonderful hosts.
After a rather packed day of travelling, gigging and chicken head eating, we decided to call it a night. The next stop was Zhouhai – or so we thought…