Pierre and Yun Yun will get married the first January in South China. Hence, we decide to have a non conventional New Year’s Eve: a party on the night train Shanghai-Guangzhou.
Despite Michela’s repeated efforts to organize the “party”, the only people that overcome laziness and join for this adventure are me and Feng, my girl.
The train leaves at six p.m. and, in the most classical Italian style, at four p.m. we haven’t decided yet what to buy. Moreover, Michela is closed in her house to finish an elusive work project. Then I find myself lost on Jing An Temple subway station, wisely assisted by Feng.
Our twisted minds conceive the following shopping list for the night: two bottles of Argentinian Malbec (180 kuai, that is about 20 euro), 300 grams of Leerdammer (50 kuai), yogurt (7 kuai), a bag of imported biscuits (40 kuai, a robbery), five giant oranges (10 kuai, great deal!), two cheesecakes and three slices of tiramisù (the last fresh cakes in the shelves… it’s New Year’s Eve).
After a crazy run through Changde street, we meet up with Michela and arrive at the train station twenty minutes before the departure. This is a great news as we have the opportunity to complete New Year’s Eve dinner with pistachios and other similar junk.
As soon as we get on the train, we understand Chinese people are not really thinking about have a party. We share the compartment with a girl that is already sleeping even if the train is still at the station (WTF?), a brave heart that will swallow down three BigMac before to fall asleep, and a compulsive employee that will spend all night working at his laptop.
A view of our compartment.
Our elegant reaction consists on sitting on the floor drinking Malbec, tasting cheese and taking silly pics of ourselves (yep, we are becoming Chinese… excluding Feng, who IS already Chinese). The highlights of the night include a girl that sells us a shiny ball (the ones with snowy landscapes inside… whatever) and the midnight spent in the intersection between two carriages drinking beer (the Malbec was gone…) with a chubby ticket inspector who will try try to seduce Michela.
The train bar… quelle tristesse!
We arrive at Guangzhou at eleven a.m. and discover we need to wait the father of Yun Yun (the bride) to check in. Not a big deal, as he’s the one paying for the rooms : – )
After a quick shower and a lunch with fake marrowbones, we let Michela at her afternoon incursions and dedicate ourselves to exploring the streets near the hotel. We discover a restaurant where you can taste the (in)famous Guangdong’s cockroaches – they keep them alive in a tank – and, for Feng’s joy, a shop “everything one dollar”. It’s a this point that I remember I didn’t buy yet my ticket to Shanghai…
We go back to the hotel to solve the problem, but Internet is not working (not a big news in China…). Through a typical Chinese chain, Feng calls Zhou who calls her boyfriend who, for only 610 kuai, buys my plane ticket on www.qunar.com.
At five p.m. we meet our old friends Jakob and Pan Pan (Jakob’s wife), and we arrive to the restaurant escorted by the driver of Yun Yun’s father.
We also get a red envelope with 340 kuai. We are a bit surprised, but Feng explains to us that in China, when you do a present, you often receive something back. Money in this case…
The present we received.
The best thing of Chinese weddings is that you can directly arrive to the restaurant without have to listen to a boring priest, which is a huge thing to me, born and raised in the Cattolicissima Italia. The downside is that you have to assist to about one hour of discussion in mandarin where the newlyweds’ parents and some pseudo-VIPs that keep talking no-sense. If the marriage is interracial as in this case (Pierre is French), you also get the translation in mother tongue and a bit of anti racial rhetoric, that is always welcome to a wedding.
Meanwhile, in the background you can see the movie of the traditional morning “farce” – or folklorist ceremony if you prefer to call it that way. This ceremony requires the groom to reach the bride’s house and offer some money to get in. After barging for twenty minutes with several people related to the bride (all female, ça va sans dire), the groom can enter the door to suffer the final torture: the interview with grandparents, great aunts and vampires. Only after this necessary step, he has access to the bride’s bedroom where occurs the exchange of the rings and the kiss that seals the union.
Thus, the survivors to discourses and movies can attack the dinner, from which I remember a lobster with noodles and cream (must be some Chinese-French hybrid dish), roasted duck, fried bacon, several soups, a fish I’m not able to distinguish, red wine imported from France for an absurd price, bai jiu paid 300 euro the bottle (?!), and a crazy waitress that, every time needs some space on the table for a new course, mix the unfinished previous courses in a platter on the middle of the table. I guess it’s in the case someone wants to try the famous lobster with bacon… At the end, no huge cake as in white devils’ tradition, but we will survive.
The most hilarious scenes take place after dinner, when the roof is opened as if we were in a Mercedes spider, and the most drunk Chinese start the karaoke while Michela, more drunk than them, “steal” two boxes of wine after a frantic negotiation with the responsible of the catering
Restaurant’s magic roof.
Kicked off the restaurant because of “violent karaoke”, we carry the party to the wedding suite, with a lot of wine but no corkscrew. After several failures, I will succeed to open a bottle by pushing the cork inside the bottle with the heel of a bride’s shoe (high Italian engineering).
We finish with Pierre that, out of control, destroys a window and tries to turn over the television among Yun Yun’ that screams, Michela that sleeps on the washroom and Yun Yun’s aunt that insults her with the reason that get all the wine and then fall asleep without finishing it is a coward behavior.
Wedding suite at two a.m.