Asia Travel

My (strange) Executive Dinner With The Mayor of Inner Mongolia in Hohhot

April 6, 2017

This is one of those situations where I just allowed myself to go with the flow

Dinner was a bizarre cocktail of laughter and confusion. It was myself and another friend I’d met while travelling through Inner Mongolia who were sat with the Mayor, his family and some Japanese friends of theirs. The table was full of everything, i mean everything – every type of meat they could slaughter for our executive group, every type of rice or noodle dish variation and there was alcohol – not the type that I was use to in Europe, but full proof Baijiu.

Baijiu for those of you who have never had the pleasure of tasting it, is made from grain. It is literally translated as “white alcohol” and it is about 60% alcohol, and can be higher at times.

Baijiu is drank like water. Every time the table spun around my glass was full again. The tricky thing about drinking Baijiu with Chinese or Mongolian hosts is that it is impolite to say no. As I was beginning to look like a rude British since they didn’t understand I was vegan, and couldn’t eat their royal meats. So I drank, and got merrily stupidly drunk

It was a hilarious scene, with a touch of ridiculousness. Me and Santi, two Londoners sitting alongside two Japanese important people who would just smile at us with their drunken red faces as they couldn’t speak English and we couldn’t speak Japanese, and of course the mayor, his wife and daughter and a few of their friends. Everyone was talking, or should I say shouting loudly with their mouths open full of food and very frequently through down a shot of Baijiu down their throats.

The most strange moment was this;

They begged me to stand up sing an English song

My face went from brown to red in an instance, I felt like bolting for the door and I was very conscious that I was on the spotlight. I was already liquored up from the Baijiu but not quite enough to confidently sing in front of several beaming Asians. What was I suppose to sing? Why was I suppose to sing?

I almost felt guilty to say no – so I took another gulp of Baijiu and braced myself to sing. I chose the classic song: Twinkle Twinkle and they absolutely love it. They roared with applause when I finished and even asked my to teach them the tune.

So it turns out it wasn’t that bad in the end and this was an introduction to me learning that Chinese, Mongolians and Koreans LOVE karaoke which I was to witness more and more during my trip.

This was my first real encounter with the Mayor of Hohhot and his family, at that executive dinner, drunk.

My singing must have won them over because afterwards I was invited to spend the weekend with them. Post coming soon.

amazing photo by Survive Travel

Have you got any bizarre travel stories?
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