The other night I headed out for dinner and drinks with a friend and had my first experience with the local alcohol. Bai-jiu is made from fermented rice and is apparently anywhere from 35-65% alcohol with a strong emphasis on “make it as cheaply as possible”. Just as my luck would have it, the bottle we had was 60% strong. I’m already a lightweight when it comes to drinking, and my first sip of this stuff almost sent me over the edge at the start of our meal. I couldn’t believe how strong this stuff was and strongly encourage you to avoid it at all costs despite what the locals tell you. If I ever was to drink paint thinner, I’m positive it would taste exactly like Bai-jiu. After I took my last siip to finish the glass off, 2 of the locals in the restaurant clapped and gave me a high-five. It’s never a good sign when the locals are giving you props for drinking hard alcohol.
Later in the evening, we went to a few bars to try to get the taste of the Bai-jiu out of my mouth. The funny and scary thing about Beijing is that no matter how nice the establishment is that you go, the condition and cleanliness of the toilets are a crap shoot (no pun intended). The bar that we ended up going to was fairly and when I decided to gamble with a trip to the restroom, I saw the funniest sign I’ve seen so far in Beijing:
4 of us saw you at the bus stop wondering what was in that mysterious tinfoil package that you were caressing with your hands. We kept trying to get a glance at it and caught each other several times in the process. Alas, you didn’t reveal your goods until you were on the bus sitting directly behind me.
I heard the soft crackle of tin-foil opening and several heads turned around; no surprise that it was the other 3 gentleman who were stealing glances at your mystery package 5 minutes earlier.
Then it hit me.
The god awful smell of your breakfast food waffled through the air as gently as a scud missile during Desert Storm. I immediately turned around and saw that you were eating a huge hunk of Munster cheese.
After realizing what you were eating, I immediately turned around to make it painfully less obvious that I was on the verge of vomited in my mouth. The master card moment was when the person sitting next to you got up and moved 5 rows up to try to evade the smell.
Don’t get me wrong. I love cheese. Everyone loves cheese. It’s just that myself and your fellow bus commuters just don’t love the world’s 4th smelliest cheese in the morning sitting right next to us.