The first thing you notice are the straws: long, bright, pink-and-purple-striped, with bent necks reminiscent of childhood parties. They’re all over the place, on benches, tables and trays, being passed around like lemonade. Otherwise, the room is exactly as you’d expect a private karaoke room would look like in Guilin, known as south China’s most beautiful city, if you were to wander in at two in the morning.
A rumpled Taiwanese businessman makes eye contact. As his friends gear up for the next big song, he enthusiastically bids me enter. There’s a lot of collar loosening and hugging, flabby, middle-aged male bellies and toasting. A couple of women have lost their tops. Everyone takes a big hit of the enormous lines on the tray, and then they ignore me.