Friday, March 23, 2012

Mahjong Mystery

I live on the third floor of an apartment building in the center of Haikou. Across the little alley/driveway is another apartment building with a restaurant on the bottom floor. There are apartments above it. When I look out of my bedroom and guest bedroom windows, I can see into my neighbors' apartments on the second floor of the next building.

Each window shows an identical room, which has a table in the center and chairs surrounding the table. Usually in the evenings the families are sitting around the table having dinner. Then as it gets later, the setting changes from dinner to all-night-long games of Mahjong. This is happening in each of the apartments across the way. I thought, ok, so the apartments are identical, that makes sense. Then I thought, ok, each family chooses to use this particular room as their dining room slash game room, that makes sense. Then I thought, wow, every single family likes to play mahjong from 8 or 9pm until 3 or 4am, does that make sense? Do these people not work during the day? Or if they do work during the day, when do they sleep? And how much is their electricity bill?!

The fluorescent lighting from each room across the way floods into my bedroom. I can sleep through about anything, so it doesn't really bother me. It's kind of a nice nightlight, filtered through my lightweight bedroom curtains. But the thing I did have to get used to was the constant CLICK CLACKING of mahjong tiles and dice throughout the night. It's even louder or more noticeable than the people talking throughout the game. And again, this is happening identically in every single room on the second floor in the next building. I finally asked the principal of my school about it, because she owns this apartment, and she informed me that those are not apartments across the's an all-night mahjong parlor! Apparently people rent out the rooms to play mahjong and gamble all night long. MYSTERY SOLVED.

Sometimes when the CLICK CLACKING and chattering is especially loud or wakes me from my sleep at 1, 2 or 3am, I get up from my bed, walk into the guest bedroom where the entire wall is one big window, and I stand and watch the mahjong games in the rooms over yonder. Yes, like a big 'ol creepy neighbor.

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