K – TV

We all went from the restaurant to Godfather’s new home – a 4 bedroom apartment on the 6th floor of a brand new apartment building in the heart of Guilin.  The building was one of about a half dozen and the grounds were immaculately groomed with pretty gardens and a fountain.  A gate guard at the front provided security and the entire neighborhood reminded me of some of the upscale apartment buildings of Los Angeles.

Once we arrived in the new apartment, I was impressed with the beautiful wood floors, modern appliances and fixtures and that the apartment had 3 balconies (facing both sides of the building).  Godfather showed us all around the new home – some of it was recently decorated and some rooms were as yet unfurnished but still had that “new home” smell of wood, carpet and the fixtures still hanging in the air.

At the end of the main hallway, I saw that Godfather and his wife had hung the family blessing.  Erica explained that written on this was a blessing for the home and the family wishing a long, happy and prosperous life.

After we finished the “tour” of the home, more and more guests arrived and we mingled and talked with some of the family members.  Everyone was so friendly and hospitable that it made me wonder about so many of our American customs; here we are, complete strangers, and we have been treated to dinner and drinks and invited into their home as an honored guest.  I was becoming more and more impressed with the Chinese people.

I don’t know where all of the cans of Coke came from, but our hosts certainly knew we were from America and would offer us a fresh cold can as quickly as we would finish one.  Soon I learned that it was better to slowly sip my drink so that I would not be offered another.  I appreciated the hospitality but feared that I would never be able to get to sleep.  Godfather put on some family slide shows in the form of music videos made with Windows Movie Maker.  He put them up on his screen using a projector and we all watched the family photos as they toured around China.

As the party began to wind down, everyone posed together for some group shots.  And again, more and more cameras came out and we took photo after photo.  It seemed that our guests wanted photos of us in their home as much as we wanted photos of them in their home.

It was getting late, maybe 10 or 11pm and I thought that the party was finally over.  Boy was I wrong!  The party was just starting.  Curry announced that we were now heading out for some “K-TV.”  “What the heck is that?” I wondered.  Erica explained that we go to the KTV bar, they put words from a video on a TV screen, and we sing along.  “Oh, Karaoke,” we replied.  She looked at us as though we were speaking a foreign language (we were) and said, “No, KTV.”

Apparently, Karaoke doesn’t exist in China.  Instead, some enterprising Koreans came along and opened a whole chain of Karaoke bars across China and called them “K-TV.”  I’m not sure if that is for Korean TV or if it is for Karaoke TV.  Either way, our friends in China only know of the drunken attempts at singing as KTV.

So, we piled back into our mini-vans and drove over to the local KTV bar and soon we were escorted into a “private” KTV room separate from the regular bar.  Godfather seemed to know who was in charge as we were whisked right to our room in sort of “rock star” fashion.  And as we were being seated, trays of beers, snacks and fresh fruit were being delivered and in no time the party was in full swing.

The inside of this Karaoke lounge was pitch black save for the glow of the TV.  The flash on the camera lights it up like daylight but you’ll have to imagine this room all dark and those of us amateurs trying to sing along to Van Halen or Madonna.  Oh, and then there is the Chinese; at least half of the songs were Chinese pop songs.  So, picture this, dark room, bad singing, lots of beer, everyone laughing until their sides split.  It really was a good time.

Eventually, it was Erica and Curry’s turn and I’ll be darned – they really can sing.  I mean they were belting out tunes like they were selectees on American Idol.  Anya and I selected one of the few songs that we might know the words to: “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina,” by Madonna.  And yes, we butchered it.

In no time, with the beer flowing, the dancing began.  Are you still picturing this?  Dark room, lots of beer, (mostly) bad singing – much of it in Chinese, and now bad dancing – oh, and lots of laughter.  I was really having the time of my life.


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Godfather’s party

Our original plan was for a two-day visit to Guilin with one overnight.  Curry and Erica had a prior engagement and we were going to go back to Yangshuo while they attended a family party.  Never leave it past the Chinese to surprise you with their hospitality; when Curry’s family heard that we were guests in town, we were invited to come to the party as well.

As we sat in a western style coffee shop, Curry and Erica filled us in on all the details.  Anya and I had invited them so that they could try an Irish Coffee.  Erica did not care for the Irish Coffee but did fall in love with the chocolate mocha.  This was Erica and Curry’s first time with western or European style coffee and we ordered one of everything on the menu.  It was fun watching their reactions as they tried different coffees.

Curry’s Godfather had just purchased a new home and he was having a party to celebrate.  As Curry and Erica explained the details of the party and the customs involved – gift giving – etc., we listened with great curiosity.  “You must never give shoes as a gift, this is a great insult.”  “Hmm…. I thought to myself, make a mental note, no shoes as gifts…”  Erica continued, “And you should never give a watch as a gift.”  When asked why, she explained that a watch signified time and that by giving a watch, you might be implying that the person will die.  This is also bad luck.

“So, what is a good gift?”  I asked to which Erica replied, “Oh, cash is always good.”  She went on to explain that cash is given in a small red envelope.  “How much does one give?”  Erica further explained that the amount given varies depending on how rich you are, how well you know the person, their social standing, and the importance of the occasion.  A marriage gift would be larger than a house warming gift and a 50 year birthday gift larger than say 47 years.

While we sipped our coffee, Curry said that he would run to the “red envelope store” to get an envelope for his gift to the Godfather.  I guess they have a shop that specializes in making these envelopes.  We said that we would like to give a gift as well and Curry agreed to get us an envelope also.  Apparently, the envelope has the gift giver and recipient’s name on it and some greeting or wish of good luck.  After Curry brought out envelope back, I snapped a photo of it (above).

When we arrived, all of the guests buzzed around us like we were rock stars.  Curry and Erica had pulled a rabbit out of the hat by bringing along some westerners to the party and everyone wanted to come over and greet us and learn more about us and to find out why we were at the party.  The Godfather’s family was so nice to us and everyone made us feel so at home.  A large party room on the second floor of a restaurant was reserved for the party and we made our way there and were seated at one of the large tables.  I asked Curry to pose with his Godfather so that I could capture a photo.

Godfather spared no expense and had two massive tables covered in food.  We ate and ate and drank and then ate some more.  Toasts were ongoing and the table kept rotating and we pulled from each dish as it passed by in continuous movement.  I cannot even begin to remember all of the different dishes and exotic appetizers.  The food was wonderful and everyone talked and laughed and ate.

Eventually, we all posed for photos as two dozen cameras were passed around and everyone had a few on their own cameras.  It was a beautiful night spent with a beautiful family and I was so happy to have been invited into their world and have one of their special nights shared with me.

Later, Godfather ordered more  wine (watch out for the rice wine – it is strong!) and toasts were made again and again.  If someone yells out “Gan-bey,” be careful, that means “bottoms up!” and you have to finish the whole glass!

Just when I thought the part was over, I was told that we were heading to the second phase of the party – to see Godfather’s new house (the cause for the celebration).  We captured a group shot heading down the stairway back into the main hall of the restaurant.

As we walked out of the private party room to the main hall of the restaurant, everyone looked up – westerners are not too common in Guilin and we received a lot of stares.  I shot a pic of the restaurant and included it so that you can see what a typical Saturday night at a popular restaurant in China looks like.


Stories, posts, reports, photos, videos and all other content on this site is copyright protected © and is the property of Scott Traveler unless otherwise indicated, all rights reserved. Content on this site may not be reproduced without permission from Scott Traveler. My contact information can be found on the home page.

Back to home page: http://scotttraveler.com