White man survives Chinese New Year. But only just


Baijiu. China’s answer to meth.

Two 15-hour train rides; baijiu slams; wrecking Michael Jackson on karaoke; some more baijiu slams; more food than some cities eat in a week; more baijiu slams.

That about sums up my three days in Jiujiang, a city in China, home to my Chinese girlfriend and host to me during Chinese New Year.

I had met her parents already. Now I had to meet the rest of the family.

There was “Bob” (my substituted name), cousin 1, a huge, barrel-chested ox of a man, with a constitution to match.

There was “Paul McCartney,” cousin 2, floppy-haired and quiet, except when he was REALLY REALLY LOUD.

There was uncle 1, skinny, constantly taking photos and obsessed with pouring baijiu down my neck.

There were other cousins, other uncles, aunts and of course mum and dad.

There were serious meals every day. Plates upon plates of food arrived, were eaten, were removed. Toasts were made. Most of which were directed at me, and all of which involved slamming a glass of baijiu.

Except when they involved slamming three glasses of baijiu. Yep, one evening Bob decided he would show me “the ultimate respect” by toasting me and then forcing me to slam three glasses of this pungent, nasal-cavity-searing liquid, possibly used elsewhere to clean exhausts.

The first night we ended up in a karaoke den. Perhaps afflicted by the bottle-and-a-half of baijiu I had consumed at dinner, perhaps also due to my inability to make good decisions when being force-fed cigarettes and blatantly robbed of cash in a game of liar’s dice, I decided Michael Jackson’s “Ben” would make a good choice.

It was not.

But no one cared. I certainly sounded no worse that “Paul,” who appeared to make the rookie mistake of confusing volume with tunefulness.

More dinners. More baijiu. More wondering how long a three-day holiday could last.

One morning R’s mother bursts into our hotel room. I just have time to slide into the bathrobe. She pretends not to notice my red, weeping eyes and stinking, sweaty underwear hanging on the door handle, and proceeds to feed me breakfast.

Another day we are out climbing the local mountain. I came back with 130 pictures of me and R in front of valley-fuls of mist. Luckily there were photo touts around with their displays of previous customers, to show us the resplendent views that we were missing.

Going home we took the train – 15 hours of comparative comfort. Uneventful, except for when I spilt a full can of Fanta over the head, pillow, bed and Mac Air of our sleeping compartment buddy.

He didn’t wake, so no harm done.

I don’t want to sound snobbish or ungrateful. It was an amazing experience.

But it was intense. It felt as if the last 20 years of my drinking life had all been in preparation for these three days of alco-overdose.

Perhaps it was.

Love you babe.  x



  1. Yep, this was pretty much every weekend for me when I came here but thankfully the people I worked with were a little shy at first so they didn’t pick on me right away. Now you know for next time that you have to train your liver before coming to China!

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