If you take part in the China vacation packages and are arranged to visit the local families and have dinner with them, you should know the following drinking tips.
Like in Western cultures, alcohol is a big part of the dining experience. I personally think that China — like many Asian cultures — go a bit overboard. There’s an almost college mentality at work: The more your guests drink, the better (and if they don’t want to, we’ll gang peer pressure them!). I think a big reason is that Asian cultures tend to be less expressive and more formal–getting wasted with your new friend is not only a bonding experience, but is the only way that some feel comfortable enough to let their hair down and just relax.
Wait for host to make the first toast before drinking. But pace yourself, because afterwards, everyone takes turns making toasts (a seemingly never-ending round of toasts). You’ll notice that every time your glass is getting close to being empty, someone will have already filled it up.
It’s also considered rude to not raise your glass and join in a toast. The result is that you can find yourself completely bombed quickly. If you’re not a big drinker or not in the mood, you can claim that you’re allergic to alcohol (if anyone can empathize, it’s the red-faced Asians). But join in the toasts by raising your tea or water cup.
Be forewarned that if you’re talked into a first alcoholic drink (“C’mon, just one!”), you can be sure it’ll be followed by more peer pressure than a fraternity pledge week (and also complete with drinking games). There was a case that made headlines some years back about a low-level government official who attended too many of these drunken banquets and literally drank himself to death.
To avoid getting totally plastered, use an old Chinese trick: Just take tiny sips or pretend to drink by raising your glass to your closed lips (I don’t think that trick would’ve worked in college with beer bongs though).
But in some places where ethnic groups lives, these tips may not be right. If you have a Shangri-La tour in Zhongdian, they may have other drinking tips you should obey.
Welcome to FC2!