Column #1 Beijing, China
May 1, 1995
Thanks to Rick Osgood and the mysteries of cyberspace this report (the first of a series to follow from time to time) is coming to you from Beijing, China where, believe it or not, darts actually exists. I’m here for a meeting with the Ministry of Forestry regarding traditional chinese medicine and cruelty to bears. A little about that another time perhaps.
Nestled just a few miles from Tiananmen Square and the Forgotten City I’ve found two pubs worth checking out. If you’re ever in this part of the world try the Pig and Whistle (and their hotdogs!) and Frank’s Place. For details check the CYBERDARTS listing of pubs around the world.
China’s a remarkable place. The reality of a billion and a half people (a number that’s nearly impossible to fathom) is striking when one considers that there are more homeless in China (some 60,000,000) than the entire population of England. Such poverty. For the native, travel is by bicycle. Meals are by chopstick. For the visitor, the language barrier is absolute!
Yet, in the middle of it all — like almost anwhere in the world — if you look a bit you can find a dart board and a thriving darts “subculture.” From there on language is no obstacle whatsoever.
I didn’t throw at Frank’s Place (the board was blocked by some tables) but I picked up some ’01 with three guys whose names I can’t pronounce at the Pig and Whistle. This turned out to be a super time! We ended up shooting bulls for beers before the night ended. Then we started cutting cards for 100 yuan notes! “Gambay” was the word of the evening. I don’t know the precise translation but it’s what you shout out just before you toss back a drink. Similar to “cheers” I suppose — but a hell of a lot more rowdy!
So how did I get to China and what am I doing on your computer screen?
I run the animal welfare division of an international animal welfare organization. In this context I spend a good half of each year in the strangest of places. Name it — from the Okavango to Katmandu I seem to eventually find my way there. From gorillas to elephants to orang-utans, I’ve found my way to their habitat.
But my obsession is darts! My GT’s are with me where ever I travel. Perhaps through CYBERDARTS I can share with you some of the good times I find along the way.
I’m heading home to Cape Cod in the morning. My team (Village Pizza Village Idiots) there has just two matches left en route to the league championship. So wish us luck!
In early August I depart on a 2,000 mile “holiday” bike ride (more or less by way of the pubs) from Dublin to Moscow. Next report from somewhere along the way … if I don’t die!
From the Field,
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