4.292 APACPH Executive Council Welcome Dinner

-Cycle 4, Item 292-
24 (Thu) October 2013

APACPH Executive Council Welcome Dinner


at Luo Jia Shan Hotel

-Wuchang, Wuhan-

with various members of APACPH

The Wuhan Follies: Day 2 (see previously 4.291 A Palatial Feast for One).

The Iron Incident.  I'd packed several shirts for the trip but hadn't had time to iron them.  According to the 3-ring binder, the hotel offered laundry services, including pressing.  I filled out the attached form, carefully writing my name and room number and number of items and yes starch, and signed it.  However, the form didn't indicate where I should call for pick up, so I dialed reception.  Reception: "[something in Chinese]."  Me: "Uhh...laundry service...please?"  Reception: "Jasmomen....[CLICK]...[dial tone]."  10 minutes later, still no return call.  With a sigh, I took my shirts and the form and took the elevator down and walked over to reception and handed the guy behind the counter the form and the shirts.  He looked at the form and the shirts, pushed everything back at me, pointed upstairs, and said, "Housekeeping, jasmomen."  I took my shirts and the form and took the elevator up and walked back to my room.  30 minutes later, a knock on the door.  I opened it to find a staffer standing there with an iron and an ironing board.

Just to make the story complete, the iron was rusty and the ironing board was stained.

I spent the afternoon at the Executive Council (EC) Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Academic Consortium for Public Health (APACPH).  I'm not a member of the EC--not even a member of APACPH, come to think of it--but apparently I was volunteered to head an ad hoc drafting committee formed to revise the organization's bylaws.  Uhh, okay.

Following the meeting, I was invited to the EC Welcome Dinner.  The venue was at the Luo Jia Shan Hotel, the conference's alternative accommodation.  In typical Chinese banquet fashion, the guests sat in tens at large round tables, lazy Susan in the center.  The food was served platter by platter, without any recognizable rhyme or reason (e.g., soup came halfway through, no rice or noodle dish, etc.).  Perhaps due to the large Muslim contingent, from both Malaysia and Indonesia, most of the dishes were vegetarian, no pork.  I can't recall any single dish in particular, the variety and volume being so overwhelming, also typically Chinese.  But I enjoyed the meal overall immensely.

Fortunately, I managed to seat myself at a quiet table away from all the bigwigs, which allowed me to take photos at my leisure and avoid the heavy toasting/boozing.

beef brisket with chilies (3.0)
--again, the local favorite.

shrimp in Szechuan peppercorn sauce (2.0)
--still trying to appreciate that anesthetic effect.

chicken & cauliflower (3.5)
--predictable yet excellent.

deep-fried shrimp and anchovies (3.0)
--surprisingly good, dry yet succulent, perfectly crispy, made me wish for a cold beer.

Instead of beer, we were served the local kaoliang ju--good stuff; for me, the takeaway of the day was learning that a big bottle is often poured into mini pitchers, each holding about 10 small shots, each placed in front of a guest, so that he/she can imbibe at his/her discretion--good idea.

Changyi Red Wine
--distinctly sweet.

beef & glass noodle soup (2.0)

mushrooms & morning glory (3.5)
--maybe the best dish of the evening.

melon? cucumber? (2.5)
--couldn't really tell, but pretty good in any case.

cabbage (2.5)
--good, though it didn't quite strike me as a dish worthy of a banquet.

green cabbage (2.5)
--see above.

green beens (3.0)
--see what I mean about all the vegetarian dishes?

bellflower root (3.0)
--okay, but getting tired of the veggies.

dried shrimp & garlic chives (3.0)
--anything but veg, thank you.

The Quasi-Self-Service Room Service Incident.  Returning to my room after dinner, just past 20:00, I got back to work.  By midnight, I was hungry again--no, not really hungry, but I wanted to eat.  The 1-page room service menu offered a limited range of items, but at least they were written in English.  I dialed the number.  Room Service: "[something in Chinese]."  Me: "Room service...please?"  Room Service: "Jasmomen...[CLICK]...[dial tone]."  5 minutes later, still no return call.  Knowing where this was headed, I grabbed the 3-ring binder and took the elevator down and walked over to reception and showed the guy behind the counter the menu and pointed to what I wanted.  He picked up the phone and called someone and said something in Chinese.  To me: "Jasmomen."  Just a moment later, someone else showed up.  She pointed in the direction of the restaurant.  I followed her there.  Once there, she said something to me in Chinese.  I showed her the menu and pointed to what I wanted.  She said something in Chinese.  I said nothing, closed the binder, got out of there, took the elevator back up, walked back to my room, not really caring at that point what happened.  30 minutes later, the food arrived.

beef chow fun (1.5) and dumplings (1.0)
--the worst room service ever, in terms of both the food and the service.

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