A China-based Japanese arranges with an Australia-based Southeast Asian to host a Hong Konger and his two Chinese comrades at a Korean restaurant.
The waiters and waitresses are a mix of Chinese and Korean (but mostly Korean).
The Japanese, Southeast Asian and Hong Konger are friends or acquaintances; but the Japanese and the Southeast Asian are only meeting the two Chinese for the first time.
The hosts call for alcohol, and when it arrives, they announce a toast.
What country is the alcohol from, and what language does the party toast in?
MY FRIEND WANTED to see a taste of the ‘real Beijing’ from an everyday perspective, but had been to many of the sights that I had already been to. But he was only available at night, I was due to meet another friend, and we are all of that type of people who are young and with big dreams (read: university students). Which, when talking about Beijing, brings only one place to mind: Wudaokou.
At the crossroads of at least three universities, Wudaokou has become a synonym for college life in Beijing. And being July, the moment I stepped out of the station, masses of people my age were lugging large pieces of baggage into the station, going home for the summer break. It was quite the role reversal; the last time I was here, I was in transit and had to take four pieces of baggage with me to Wudaokou and back in the same day.
But, as a hotspot for students seeking to know more about the world, Wudaokou is not quite the place for Chinese culture, at least cuisine wise, and the neighbourhood, despite being far from touristy, has a far more cosmopolitan feel. It’s a different type of ‘foreigner’, but it’s certainly not so much a place for foreigners to plant themselves as it is for young students to have a good time.
Interestingly though, one foreign culture dominates Wudaokou. Or it’s just that the Chinese have a thing for Korean barbecue and hotpot. Not only that, but ‘cheap bars and clubs’. But, as I joked with my friend, we are ‘gentlemen of class’ … just kidding. But that leads to my dinner scenario. What language do we toast in? Many. But there is an answer … I’ll tell you later. What I can say is that my experience over this dinner is just as cosmopolitan as the place itself.