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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