Thursday, November 16, 2006

Daliang Shan Beer

One of the most interesting meals I had in Ningbo was hosted by a factory manager in the complex cafeteria. I thought the meal would be quick and simple but these guys had other plans. We started off the meal with a couple of cold beers and some seafood starters. The spread of 4 items seemed more that sufficient to me, on a day where we would have to get back to work after lunch. But one by one, more dishes began to appear on the table and before I knew it there were about 15 items laid out in from of me. These guys went out of their way to hook up one hell of a meal and it was good. There were some specialty dishes that did not go down so well for me but overall it was awesome. The conversation was pretty awkward considering I do not speak much Mandarin yet but we managed to get some good laughs in. As we slowly consumed the feast laid before us, the Chinese dudes took the liberty of keeping my glass filled. I must have been at least one bottle in when one of the guys made a toast after which everyone pounded every last drop of beer in their glasses. My glass had conveniently been filled to the brim right before the toast was made. I did not plan to clear the contents of my cup until I was informed in the simplest terms that it was unmanly not to finish your beer on a toast.


I have heard numerous tales about the drinking tradition in China but this was my first real life experience in such a situation. Granted it was Sunday afternoon but there was still work to be done. My brain was conflicted whether to initiate a move back to the factory or to indulge these gents in an hour or two of mass beer consumption. I settled for the later. The fellows took turns making toasts with half glasses of beer insuring that my glass was always topped up. I knew this game well. It has been played on me many a time but the Chinese brothers I know in Bali. Except they just fill your glass with straight whiskey every time you are not looking. There would soon be a twist in the cat’s tail and the coin would flip. The predators were about to become the prey. The beer being served was a local brew called ‘DALIANG SHAN BEER’. It was smooth sipping and quite light so having eaten so much I was still able to keep it down.


All the years of abuse my liver has sustained were finally paying off. I had a few toasts up my sleeve as well. I kept a bottle close by at all times and made sure all the blokes’ glasses were full. If this was a test of strength then I am glad they chose this game. Had they decided to challenge me to a game of ping-pong, I would have been fucked. At first the toasts were amusing as long as they felt they were working me, taking turns pounding drinks and toasting me one by one meant I would be drinking 3 for their every one. I let a few rounds go by that way before I slowly turned on them. Before I knew it they were all glowing red and giggling like school boys, but all having a great time. I have to admit that I was a bit tipsy myself but these guys were smashed. And it is fun chilling with drunken Chinese dudes because they keep yelling at each other and hitting the table. I could just imagine some Steven Chow type cafeteria fight breaking out.


‘DALIANG SHAN BEER’ is 7% alcohol and although you do not feel it going down, it does pack quite a punch. Between the 4 of us we cleared a whole crate of large bottles in only 2 or 3 hours. And it was fun. Alcohol sometimes has a way of bringing down communication barriers. By the time we left the cafeteria we were exchanging elaborate stories and exploits. I always felt that generally, Chinese people were very crude and unaffectionate but as time goes on I find that they are actually very friendly people with good intentions. They are also extremely sensitive and emotional, although that could also be the booze talking. Looking back it seems I was destined to partake in a solid Sunday drinking session. My life had been lacking that camaraderie recently and I found it, in of all places, an isolated factory in Ningbo.



***If anyone knows of any software I can download off the net to freely manage music on my ipod and laptop please hook me up. I want to move songs from my ipod to my pc and vice versa. I already have itunes.

7 comments:

Shan said...

Hi Avi - great reading about your adventures in china. Good job with the drinking challenge. It can't have been easy :)

Avi said...

I bet you dig that beer cause it got your name on it ;-) And it is not easy. I am clocking on thirty now and I should be starting to feel it soon. cheers.

ningbo? said...

ha ha, nice story, had a laff reading it. Can picture you thinking "hmm, these guys are really in for it"

-ningbo

Anonymous said...

Regarding ipod music management, would this be useful?
http://www.redchairsoftware.com/anapod/

surri said...

I miss u cuz avi....Singapore is a lonely, lonely place....

ash said...

hey bro,
ipods are made so that its not easy to share music. actually u just need to show hidden folders and go to my computer. look in the music folder of the ipod and all the songs are there. u can just pull all the songs off the ipod and add them to itunes and reload ur ipod under ur own comp with a mix of old and new songs. actually its best to use itunes as it maximizes disk space on the ipod and avoids breaks in songs which u may get using windows media player or realplayer.
hope this helps

Anonymous said...

Da Liang Shan beer is NOT 7% alcohol! I don't know where you got that from. On the back, it clearly states 1.9% alcohol - you can even make it out in the picture! Da Liang Shan and other beers like it are specifically made as low-alcohol beers, so that you can drink a lot of beer and do a lot of toasting, and not get drunk.

And yeah, that lunch is 100% typical, nothing special about it whatsoever. If you eat all the food, it's considered an insult to your host (he didn't provide enough).