Thursday, October 9, 2008

Mahjong, Baijiu and a Squirt Gun

Last Saturday marked the end of China's National Holiday. Most locals usually make the most of the last couple free days, and the Li's, Yi's and Hu's were no different. I had the pleasure of joining my student and his family (the Li's) for a day trip to Chengdu's North Lake. We were joined by family friends the Yi's, Hu's and little dog Mimi. The North Lake was actually quite beautiful. It looked pollution-free, had no boats and didn't smell like a toilet. There were many Chinese-style gates and gazebos nearby for many photo opportunities. The ground was set up like a resort, complete with mini-amusement park, midway, junk shops and family restaurants. I was happy to find a little squirt gun at one of the junk shops. Now I can discipline my cat successfully! After we explored a bit, it was lunch time. We ate at the center restaurant of the resort. The food was traditional Sichuan and the drink was baijiu. Baijiu is one of the harshest Chinese liquors. I was curious why we were drinking this at lunchtime, but after the first glass, I understood. The next activity on the slate was tea-drinking and finally....Mahjong! Ever since seeing locals playing this tile game in the street, I knew that I had to learn. Today was the day!

All of the Chinese moms took turns hovering over my shoulder, telling my which tile to play. It took a few rounds, but I was starting to get the hang of it. I would characterize Sichuan Mahjong as a cross between dominos and Rummikube. The tiles comtain three suits and are numbered from one to nine. Some of the tiles are difficult to learn because instead of a number they have the Chinese character. It really is a pretty fun game. Especially after you learn some of the associated Chinese words like: 'La' and 'mao' and my favorite: 'Peng!' After i was pretty good at the game, it was hard for the moms to stop giving me advice. Later, I noticed that they weren't always having me play the best tile as their children were also playing, giving them the upper hand. I look forward to bring Mahjong back to the states, look out world series of poker.


Zoll said...

Love your photos:))
You're in China right now?

Mickey Shamrock said...

Ah, disciplining the cat, eh? Good work - I discipline mine daily. And you're right - mahjong is a badass game. See ya bro!