A few days ago Kimi asked me if I would like to escort her to a work's day out. Apparently it was a belated celebratory gift for Woman's day (which was more than a week ago). The theme of the day would be a sports day dedicated to team-building. I didn't know where I would fit into all of this, but I decided to tag-a-long anyway.
The destination for the event was in a smaller town called Yue Qing, just outside of Wenzhou city, but still belonging to Wenzhou. An hour bus journey later, and we arrived at the town's sports stadium. It was the first sunny and warm day of the year, which was lucky as I recall torrential rain the previous day. The sun was so strong I even burnt my nose (it's always the first thing to go).
I felt a little out of place after arriving on the field as there were almost no men in sight, it seemed Kimi was the only person who brought their partner along. Some of her colleagues had seen me before, and no doubt most of them knew that Kimi had a lao wai boyfriend, but still, there were a few stares and glares heading in my direction.
The proceedings began with a host shouting down a microphone with the volume cranked up to 11 -- nothing changes. She called out staff names and introduce each event. When I saw the props hiding behind the big red rubber arch, I realised this was not to be a standard sports day. The games consisted of such things as: wrapping up people in toilet roll, bouncing on a space hopper, riding a bicycle as slowly as possible, and a sack race.
To my surprise everybody seemed to be having a whale of a time. I wouldn't have been so happy to have done all of this on my day off (although I was watching it all on my day off). I am taking a stab in the dark saying this, but I get the firm impression that a person's free time from work is a much more prized possession in western culture. I can't imagine half the turn-out for the same day going on in the UK. Yet it seemed almost all of the female workforce had chosen to attend this extra-curricular activity.
I was dealt another surprise that afternoon when I saw Kimi win, not only one game, but every game she took part in. Each member of staff was only supposed to take part in one event each, but her "team mates" talked Kimi into doing three out of five. She rejected the final round because of the hurdle and can of Coke involved -- and it was probably beneath her by then anyway. She received a prize for being the star of her team: a bottle of shampoo and shower gel.
Kimi slightly worn out, and my nose slightly burnt, we left the sports stadium and took a suspension-less bus back home.