Many months ago, indeed it seems a lifetime ago now, I was in Zhuhai getting my TEFL certificate. It was much harder work than I expected. Theory all day and then teaching lessons in the evenings with our rather bad tempered tutor who delighted in pointing out every error in our teaching, usually real but sometimes imagined I think. Our tutor was one of those irritating people who revelled in power, no matter how small. Anyway, towards the end of these 12 hour days me and my teaching colleagues used to have a little joke. One of us would cup our ear and say “I think I hear *The Ice Bar* calling”. We drank there most nights, amongst assorted slightly eccentric ex-pats and it was great although it had  a really ghastly Squat Toilet. (Think Train-Spotting !) I never did find out why it was called The Ice Bar, they didn’t even sell ice.

So a couple of months later I came to Fuzhou. There are two Bars on Student Street. One is noisy, expensive and boring and the other one is excellent and run by the estimable Yan Hong. I drink in the latter one. It has splendid staff and even ice too. But still I craved the eccentricity of The Ice Bar. I took the bus to town many times in that first couple of months. There’s a scruffy corner that I go past  there near the bridge over the  river with nothing but mosquitoes there , until one day there WAS something ! It was below the bridge. All you could see from the bus was a Chinese Flag and, if you looked carefully a cornucopia of other flags. I asked the students what it was and they said it’s the new INTERNATIONAL bar. I made a mental note to go there. Then I went for a night out into central Fuzhou to a Concert, yes, blah de bla and the bus driver dropped us off at the wrong stop and next to it. Well God works in mysterious ways. We went in to be greeted by the proprietor. An interesting man. He’s Chinese , known as Wolf-Man and has been to Japan, Honduras and Argentina. He also speaks some Spanish. I was pleased to see him but not nearly as pleased as he was to see me. He KISSED me. That’s a very un – Chinese thing to do and I think he’d had a couple of beers but hey, he’s running an International bar and finally, finally the Foreigners turn up. Then he brought some beer, some peanuts and a salad that I thought tasted distinctly Spanish…….