Last night in Chengdu – The interesting people you meet.

We were relaxing in Sim’s Cozy’s balcony bar, having a drink and a laugh when Leon, an Israeli guy we had met in Juizhaigou whips out his guitar and starts playing to the chatter around the table. This attracts a couple of wanderers called Roland and Laurna from Latvia.

Roland and Laurna have been traveling for 6 months throughout India, Nepal, Pakistan, Iran, Tibet, and now China as street performers. They are totally wacky, eccentric, lost marble types who had perfected being both crazy and witty, easily becoming the centre of attention in any crowd.

We start singing the usual folk songs that break out once the guitars appear. Everyone felt free, relaxed, and happy singing along to Paul Simon’s Cecilia, Bob Dylans Rolling Stone and a shuffle of Bob Marley tunes.

So it was an unexpected twist when Roland started to test the limits of humour by cracking Jewish jokes aimed at Leon.

Leon – If you’re not Jewish, don’t joke about the holocaust.

Roland and Laurna smiling – ‘Oh, we have plenty of Jew jokes, but you’re not really a Jew anyway, you were born in Russia’

Leon – Israeli’s don’t take jokes about Jews well. So I’m telling you to stop.

Roland – picks up his guitar and starts singing ‘ I’m a poor Jewish boy’

I stop breathing and brace myself for the impact.

Leon, after a tense pause with some serious eye-contact – ‘If you don’t stop, I’m going to have to take out my penis’

Relief, laughter, and the tension eases as the German guy next to me cries – ‘Oh come on man, we don’t need to see it, we already know it’s like this’ and slams down the large black phallic like percussion shaker.

More laughter, and Roland eases off on the Jewish jokes now that Leon has made fun of the situation. I realise he reminds me of ‘Borat’

We hear an American accent coming from the lounges next to us. Roland again with the Guitar starts singing enthusiastically ‘Lets take our part, in Jihad! Lets take our part, in Jihad! Obama its just karma so lets take our part, in Jihad!’

Aussie guy from the group next to us – ‘Have some respect guys’ while the muscley American man stands up and turns around to give us a threatening stare.

Roland smiles in a Guru like fashion – ‘ Wasn’t Jesus an American?’ followed with ‘Let’s sing a positive song’ and starts singing a song about being HIV Positive. Followed by a tune titled ‘ Free Sichuan!’ Then surprisingly the Tasmanian man requests a ‘Free Tasmania’ version.

All of this was ridiculously humorous as Roland pushed the limits of everyone political correctness, until comments like ‘your mothers a whore and you should just hang yourself because you’re a bum and the Dutch economy would be better off without you’ became perfectly acceptable, and you were either quick with a comebacks (in jest) or had to leave.

In the early hours of the morning, all of us had become great friends through gass-bagging, joking around, and copious amounts of alcohol when Roland asks me ‘Are you staying in this guesthouse’

T – ‘Yes’
Roland – ‘What room number’
T – ‘On the 5th floor’
Roland – ‘But what room number’
T, not wanting to divulge this information but not being able to think of anything else to say – 504
T, .5 seconds later when the correct response comes to mind – ‘why do you need to know my room number?’
Roland – ‘Just asking’ then starts asking everyone else about their room numbers to which everyone freely replies.

By 4.30am my eyes were stinging from the cigarettes, and I had a bad taste in my mouth and gut from the Chinese vodka I was drinking. I excused myself from the party, said my good nights, and promised that I would see everyone tomorrow with it being my final day in Chengdu.

In my room I immediately pass out but was awakened by a knocking on my door. Thinking I had left something important, like my passport, in the lounge, I open the door slightly and squint through my sleepy eyes.
Roland – ‘Can I come in?’
T – ‘No’ goes to close the door.
Roland – Puts his hand on the door to push it open ‘have you got someone in there?’
T, loudly – ‘No, I’m sleeping, go away.’ Tries to push the door shut.
Roland, backs off – ‘Im sorry, it’s not what you think, when you left a couple of the guys followed you out and I just wanted to make sure that you were ok’
T – ‘Sure. I’m sleeping. Good night.’ Pushes the door shut and locks it.’

Luckily, Roland really isn’t a bad guy, but it was another lesson about needing to be better at deflecting certain questions. And not opening doors.