Noilly Prattle: China 2017: 15 – a family dinner party

Thursday, June 22, 2017

China 2017: 15 – a family dinner party

     The Weiyanghao Hotel wasn't very busy since winter is the off-season. We only saw a couple other guests during the five days we stayed there and they only stayed one or two nights. Mrs. Yuan was more or less solicitous to us. One day we asked her if we could do some laundry and she offered to do it for us. We protested but she was firm. She also said that her husband and partner in the business (whom I called Mr. X) would be back from Beijing in the evening and she invited us to dinner with the family.

the dinner party . . .

       The dinner was amazing. Apparently Mr. X hadn't come back to Fenghuang alone. There were four related families gathered at the hotel, one of whom (a bureaucrat from Beijing) spoke excellent English. He helped me clear up and resolve many of our communication difficulties. During the course of the wonderful family dinner, which included a large variety of local dishes laid out on a big round table in the courtyard, Mr. X called the taxi driver we had previously asked about driving us to Sanjiang and arranged everything for us.

l. to r.--Mrs. Yuan, Mr. X and the Beijing man
old woman is the family matriarch
      With that matter settled the meal was thoroughly relaxing, oiled by a delicious slightly sweet homemade Chinese liquor with 50% alcohol content and very friendly and open company. The family were warm and outgoing and made us feel at home and well fed in the most unpretentious and natural way. The evening turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip to China.

a traditional Miao costume . . .

       After a couple hours we went back to our room to get our coats to go out and see the night lights of the town. When we came back down everyone was still hanging around the lobby area or in the courtyard sitting around the dinner table talking quietly. The women were trying on a traditional Miao (the dominant ethnic minority in Fenghuang) women's costume and they invited Akiko to try it on as well. Everyone got a big kick out of it with the men (including me) goofing around and putting on the decorated headdress.

Fenghuang by night . . .

old women in traditional Miao dress
       In winter, the night is the most animated time in Fenghuang. The crowds were much larger than in the day time. The dreary cloudy sky was obscured; the lighted buildings and music of the clubs and bars make of Fenghuang a veritable fairyland. It was a mind-blowing high (aided, no doubt, by the 50% alcohol content liquor flowing through the bloodstream)--a kind of alternate reality.  

Rainbow Bridge justifying its name

a crescent moon, Venus and the crenelated old town wall

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