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干杯 - Bottoms up

In most places on this planet humans like alcoholic beverages. They are usually consumed to celebrate something. Chinese are not different. Their favorite celebration beverage is rice wine. It is strong and has more than 35% alcohol. The picture to the left shows how it is served. The small glass is used to drink it while the larger one is for refills.

You raise the glass so that the bottom can be seen by everybody and drink all its contents in one go. Chinese call that “bottoms up”. It is pronounced “gam bei” and written like that:

干杯

Paying respect

A little while ago I was invited to a business dinner celebration. People gather around a round table, have a lot of food and after a short while they start to salute each other, praise heroic acts someone performed during work and pay him respect - that’s how they call it.

The first person stands up, looks for someone he wants to pay respect to, praises what he has done and invites him to raise the glass. They both exchange a few more words and empty their glasses. As soon as the glasses are put back onto the table someone next to them quickly refills them. The glass can never be empty.

That goes on for quite a while and, as I was able to observe, at some point they do skip the small glass to grab the larger one and do “bottoms up” with that one. It’s becoming a contest about who is stronger measured by the amount of alcohol any person can consume.

It all comes to an end when either money runs out or people are too drunk to continue or there is another reason to leave the establishment. It was quite impressive to see how much people can consume.