Chinese Party-time!

The contrasts of traveling through China… After a week of peace & quiet spent at high altitude, with monks & locals afraid to talk to this white girl, I end up in the World Heritage Site town of Lijiang. At first I get absorbed in the magic of this beautiful Chinese town, walking through the cobblestone street-maize of this fairytale wonderland. A little further walking turns into strolling following the many Chinese tourists, then I come to a complete standstill on the center of it all where the idyllic town turns into a circus. Overwhelmed by all impulses I look at all the lights and excited Chinese people, listen to the loud Chinese noises and smell the odors of too many Chinese people combined with too much Chinese food.

Together with my 3 Swiss hiking friends, at the border of old town we find a very typical Inn with a lovely & quiet (!) courtyard to have a beer to get over this culture shock (in the same country) and to mentally prepare for diner in this craziness. Though I could have never prepared enough for the madness that was going to happen!

Walking back into the frenzy of the center, we get sucked into the pace of too many Chinese – you could compare it with Kingsday in Amsterdam – at which point it’s the easiest not to fight it and just go with to slow flow. Hungry from a big hike earlier today, we enter a food court with a variation of experimental Chinese food – from chicken feet to worms to cow intestines. Then we need another beer to flush down the spicy food so we randomly enter a loud “club” where we get a table close to the stage on which a Chinese man mostly uses his strong voice as way of entertainment. As soon as we sit down, involuntarily the entertainment moves to our table as the men at the table next to us point their smart phones at us to start up an extensive photo session. Small glasses are being poured with (light) beer that we have to drink – Kampei! – , cigarettes are being put in our mouths, we are being fed fruit and there is not a moment being untouched as they take multiple rounds of shooting photos hugging a white person while drinking, smoking & eating. I get a rose from one of the men, who later asks me to marry him. On stage the entertainer sings, speaks Chinese too loudly and gets bottles with money that he then drinks with loud applause, which reminds me again of Kingsday or German Beerfest. So many impressions, so overwhelming, so crazy! We overcome with a huge smile on our face, filled with (light) beer shots, fruit & cigarettes.

Suddenly the party is over and people start to leave. With a Chinese pulling each arm, excitedly we are being dragged out to the street where the men stand rubbing their big Buddha bellies, either meaning they want food or a toilet. I guess the first and as a “sister” joins who speaks good English, we finally start understanding the men, as far as she still understands their drunk mumbling…

We walk out of the old town into the new town where they find a small beer & BBQ shop which would never fit all 20+ of us. But of course that’s an easy challenge in China, and they whip out several baby tables and chairs (the ones that we use when drinking fake tea with our 3 year old niece) to create an outside restaurant in the middle of the street. More light beers on the table, more shot glasses, more “Kampei!”, more cigarettes, more skewers with spicy (soy)meat, more photos and more holding my hand as if the Chinese would never let go until he gets too drunk and rests his head on the small table, where I leave him and his friends most probably for the rest of the night…

Chinese party-time!

Chinese party-time!

Written by Inge Bassant (The Netherlands)


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