Monday, 1 December 2008

Ganbei

Last night Johann, Kristian -- a new teacher from Canada -- and I were invited out for dinner by a few students. I had expected that we would visit a small cheap restaurant, the kind of which I have become accustomed to. The end result however, wasn't quite what I had in mind.

The students took us to a new restaurant a short taxi ride away from Web. We walked up the stairs, past all of the food laid out on tables for customers to pick (no menus in these places), and entered a private room. This was not going to be cheap. The food was ordered and in no time we were eating. Everything was going smoothly -- until the boss came in.

The man walked in with cigarettes in hand and sat himself down at our table. The students translated what he was saying to us. Apparently, because the restaurant is new, he wanted to celebrate this fact with us. Immediately, our three bottles of Tsingtao beer were replaced with Heineken. From this point onwards the eating stopped and the "ganbei" began (in Chinese "ganbei" means bottoms up, or down in one). The beer was flowing like water, the second I finished a bottle, the waitress immediately replaced it and refilled my glass.

The boss seemed very happy with the proceedings, and invited his friend's son into the room. He sat between Johann and Kristian, and spoke to us in English for a while, of course he had to down some drinks with us too. Next, a couple of the managers came in, and they drank a few more glasses of beer with us. After this, the boss decided to order something a little stronger than beer: cognac -- and two bottles of it. My glass was filled three quarters of the way up with the stuff, and once again we had to down it in one. More managers flocked in and also drank with us individually. Business cards were flying all over the room, each member of staff giving us their card (not that I could understand a word of Chinese on them). I have no idea how much we drank, but it was enough to send the room spinning.

A bottle of Remy Martin that Kimi's mother gave to me, similar to the stuff we were drinking last night

As soon as I arrived home I passed out on my bed. I was even too drunk to speak to my mum and dad who call me on Sunday night. Instead I wrote a message to them saying I couldn't talk due to the cognac. When I awoke at 7am this morning my head was killing me. I took three painkillers, but they didn't seem to work for at least thirty minutes when on the front of the packaging it quite clearly said "instant relief".

My day at Web was a very slow one, I was grateful that my final class of the day was with some of my favourite students. I think I would have died if I had been stuck with a beginner salon (salons are the bigger classes with up to ten students).

Also, today was Ryan's final day at Web, and in Wenzhou. He comes from Australia, is only one year younger than me, and has been in China since January. He joined the training centre about seven months ago, but recently things hadn't been working out. Unfortunately he will be leaving for Hangzhou tomorrow, and then to Shanghai. I just hope he can find happiness wherever it is he decides to stay.

Finally, Kimi gave me her old phone today. She took it to one of the mobile phone stores and managed to get the software changed from Chinese into English. I am now in possession of a considerably better phone than the one that was stolen from me. I just have to keep this one safe.

7 comments:

Ihengsi said...

Have you heard of the expression: "there is no such a thing as a free lunch" or in your case, dinner? Especially from stangers. They usually want something in return.

Elwin said...

That's a typical Chinese business dinner, which always comes with liquor that would never leave you alone with sobriety.

Anyway, I'm sorry about Ryan's leave. He's definitely a good teacher. Wish him happy in ShangHai or HangZhou.

mabelp said...

I hope u're ok now! If u really couldn't stand it, then just try your best. Don't do anything damage your health! Nobody could understand your health status other than yourself.

大眼睛熊 said...

Can u try to ask more than one question next time u get drunk?!! :D
Glad u r feeling better now,u shouldnt have mixed beer with cognac,it'll make u feel sick straight away!! xxx

Chris said...

Ihengsi said:
"there is no such a thing as a free lunch"

Yes, you're completely right. I have heard from others and noticed that some people who have invited me out before, just have the sole purpose of wanting something like English lessons.

Elwin, I don't know how businessmen can survive here, I think my liver would need replacing after a month. I'm sorry that Ryan has left too, it's certainly for the best, but I'm not sure what or where he will actually end up staying for sure, maybe he will go back home.

Thanks for the advice Kimi and Mabel. Health is one of the most important things to us, you're completely right. I will also try and think of another question next time....

Shawn said...

The people in wenzhou always show their their hospitality by asking the guest for drinking wine and saying "one more cup of wine" over and over again.But it is not good for ourselves so someone came out with saying "something wrong with my stomach".I think you try to do that.

Alex (Sasha) said...

What do you mean lhengsi?

I've enjoyed meals with chinese people where I've never had to give them anything or play any kind of games?

I do agree with what you say though, that can be true anywhere.