Definition: A popular mode of dress worn by Chinese men. A shirt’s bottom hem is risen above the individual’s stomach to reveal cooling fresh air upon their sweaty gut.
Old men wearing Beijing bikinis huddle in packs to smoke cigarettes in some of Hangzhou’s many market alleyways. Ladies cheerfully play card games; you often hear them before you see them in these alleyways. Young kids scoot past you on scooters and stray dogs scavenge the streets for morsels of food to eat. Barbershops, restaurants, produce stands, and more barbershops clutter the alleyways. How many barbershops are there in Hangzhou? I found myself trekking through many of these alleyways the other day. The experience was unforgettable, but so was the smell. The stench of raw meat was in the air… so I followed it. I witnessed foods I had never seen before. Aquariums of exotic fish and turtle. Meat lay unrefrigerated in the open air; only an oscillating fan was used to deter the pests away from the raw meat. I had so many questions after visiting my first meat market in Hangzhou: does any of the meat end up being refrigerated at the end of the day and is it safe to eat?
After a long inquisitive hike throughout Hangzhou’s market alleyways, I found myself seated in a Uyghur restaurant. Uyghur people reside in the far northwestern reaches of China and are of Turkish descent. Uyghur-Chinese food is not the type of Chinese food one thinks of back in the United States. The food is halal and has middle-eastern flairs to it. I absolutely loved it. I ordered a fried flatbread stuffed with steak and cilantro. The sandwich bread reminded me of Taco Bell’s chalupa shells. Yes… I said it… Uyghur food reminded me of Taco Bell! The hunger was real, though, so I also order a pickled beef noodle soup. DEAR LORD WAS IT GOOD. I loaded the food with lajiao, otherwise known as Chinese pepper paste, and I was in hog heaven. The spice, heat, and humidity eventually got to me that day and I must confess… I partook in wearing the Beijing bikini. What a satisfying experience and all that food for only 20 RMB.