I have just spent the last three days away from my beloved city. With my husband and 200+ Chinese I was headed South for a company outing in the mountains. It was not without hesitation I headed out. Five hours later we were checking into a very nice hotel. Much better than I had expected. Two bathrooms, sitting room and bedroom, not too shabby. We had travelled by car, an hour or so later saw the rest of our party arrive by bus. It had taken them seven hours.
Soon we were headed out for lunch. Very nice. Much what I had thought. This isn't Shanghai, but the food was good, the staff excellent, although perhaps a little zealous in serving us. I think we were the first non Asians they had come across. There was much giggling, staring, attempts to converse with us and I think we were served by every waiter and waitress in the restaurant. It always amuses us that we attract so much attention.
Lunch over, we had three hours to rest before heading back to same restaurant for dinner. One thing about the Chinese is that they love to eat, and they do eat at the same time every day, their evening meal being eaten much earlier than Europeans are used to. What I came to discover over the three days is that they pretty much eat the same things at each meal. There are a few variations but basically, rice and noodles, some proteins in the form of fish, shellfish, pork or chicken, hardly ever beef, and a selection of veg. But is always tasty and satisfying.
However I was slightly surprised to see almost exactly the same meal served up at dinner as we had eaten for lunch. But what surprised me most was when a bottle of Baileys, a bottle of Chivas, a bottle of Sweet Martini, numerous bottles of Red Wine and Beers, plus strangely enough a carton of milk were produced from carrier bags. It was at this point I realised just how well the Chinese can party. Much toasting and drinking went on, people moving between tables during the meal. Everyone came to toast my husband. As the boss they all wanted to thank him and do a one on one toast with him. Couldn't happen, as I had to see him back safely, so we persuaded them to toast him in groups. It was a lot of fun. But can you imagine drinking Baileys and milk? I found out this was why the milk had been produced.
As you can see there was much drinking and toasting going on. Everybody relaxed and the party got under way very quickly.
Various parties were carried on in rooms. I'm sure by the look of some people in the morning they had gone on all night. We made an early exit as a 6-30 am wake up call was on the cards and my all night partying days are over, that is if they ever began!
Just after 7-00am we arrived back at same restaurant for breakfast. Chinese breakfasts are not really for me. Rice in water, warm soy milk, noodles, hard boiled eggs, fermented bean paste, were a few of the delicacies on offer. Also steamed dumplings which quite honestly looked like uncooked dough. I did see what looked like churrros on the table, that would do with a cup of coffee I would be sorted. No coffee and churro lookalikes were salty and very greasy as they were cold. Also no drinks apart from warm soy milk. Day not off to a good start.
Very kindly someone did manage to get me a cup of Chinese tea and a coke.
I'm sure you agree it looks quite unappetising.
Couldn't believe there was no coffee. Biggest crime of the weekend. I have found out that the Chinese do not drink with their meals, apart from dinner when the may have a beer. Not even water.
We had a great day at the mountain. Hard work but ultimately fun. have to confess to not going to the top as most of the others did. Steps all the way. Very tiring. A mediocre lunch, then back with an hour to spare before dinner. Action packed. Different restaurant, same food for the most part. Drinking not quite as party like as the night before, but still the toasting had to be done.
Breakfast next morning. We arrived back at restaurant before buses. Some people were late arriving. When they did turn up it was with bread, jam, coffee and cheese slices. They are superstars. A quick trip to a supermarket to buy me b'fast. Also two fried eggs appeared from the kitchen. B'fast was served. I am amazed at how far these people will actually go to please you. They are so kind.
Coffee, even although it was instant had never tasted so good. I was ready to face the day.
A great weekend was had by all. I am now more relaxed around such large groups. Everyone was so friendly and I had my photo taken many times with various members of the company. Looks like we have been accepted and can now look forward to next years trip, although this time I will be packing a few essentials! Coffee top of the list.
So cheers, or gan bei, as they say here. A great weekend. Good company good, for the most part, and good wine. Result a good time had by all. Here's to next year.