I present one story, of many I want to post of the
sideline stories seasoned travelers may find amusing, and new travelers may find helpful.
Hong Kong Snake Dinner
Here we have a true tale of a dinner party that was something out of a food TV show with a nice bald twist. I lost my hair when I was thirty, and have not missed it. I have only the look of a Friar from a monastery. Most of my Chinese hosts have a full head of hair, so I guess I was labeled as a popular food critic from the USA. My Chinese host physicians made a point of taking me and my associate out for sumptuous lunches every day during our three week stays in Hong Kong. My coworker was female, and lunches were always a great, and very social event with the large table dominated by three pots of hot tea (green, Oolong, and another tea). The Chinese take great care to pour tea for guests, because they are special. In the Chinese culture, it is disrespectful to turn away food or drink when served by the host, in this respect it was my Chinese students who chose to respect a teacher, I later found out.
Our lunches were always proper, with white table cloth, Western silver settings, and several dishes. My associate and I loved these social events because they took over an hour, but we tired of the endless array of dishes served out. We were ready to get back to teaching these wonderful people how to perform sonograms, and get back to the hotel to get a good night sleep. Jet lag had a part in this, of course..
One night, a male cohort of physicians enticed me out to join them in an ultimate male bonding ritual: Snake Dinner. (See the links below)
Note, this offer of dinner was not extended to my female associate for cultural reasons. I cannot explain that. She graciously declined. I was picked up by a pack of wonderful medical doctors, and off we went.
So, here we go out walk like usual to a restaurant for supper, rather than lunch. I Love
to walk, and I am amazed at how fit the Chinese people are. Most walk if possible to work, or for meals. The streets are full of the usual honking, and hordes of people, but all was very orderly, and my attention quickly turned to olfactory rather than dodging pedestrians. Hong Kong is a city of smells. You understand this when you get off the M-subway for the first time. It Is Smell! the melange can overwhelm a western person.
After many blocks through Kowloon, we are ushered into a small restaurant and seated at a large table, and immediately served with bottles of rice liquor. My host party set upon me like a pack, and attempt to make me drunk by refilling my small cup multiple times with a hellish rice moonshine. I learned quickly not to down the drink. It was apparent that to do so would spark a rush of eager hosts willing to refill my small cup with more brimstone.
Then the Snake Man made his entrance with his eyes on me. I was the only Gadjin in the
party of twelve.
approached the table with a cart of hissing serpents. He held my gaze and asked which snake? He said they are all poisonous cobras. He seemed miffed that I would ask such a stupid question.
He took the snake from the cage, and used a green scalpel to gut it from appetite