If you have learned to like baijiu, you have lived far too long in China, have gone local, and you should consider returning home!
There are multiple variations on this saying in many expat communities across China. I certainly believed that myself in my early years of living in Changzhou, Jiangsu province. And besides. I was born on an American base in Germany and grew up in Europe. I really don’t have a home to return to — the closest would be New Jersey.
And what is wrong with trying to go local? As a laowai 老外 — ahem, a foriegner — you never can truly go local, but that doesn’t mean trying isn’t worthwhile. In all my time growing up around the American military, I was always told that the best way to show respect to a host nation is to learn as much about its history and culture as possible. Sure, in my current case, that means learning the language as well. In my blogs about Changzhou and Jiangsu, I have tried to learn both the culture and history of my city and my region — where and what things are.
Then, late in 2019, Covid-19 corona virus hit Wuhan and spread to much of China and then beyond. Much of the country either went into lock down or had severe travel restrictions put into place. People were told to stay at home as much as possible. Bars, gyms, restaurants, and much more were shuttered. I’m not complaining, as I took it as how serious the central, provincial, and municipal governments were being in fighting the spread of Covid-19. All of a sudden, having two blogs about traveling seemed distasteful given the circumstances. Those blogs won’t permanently go away, but they are on hold until life gets back to normal.
During the early days of the epidemic, I did what a lot of people did: quietly freak out. Grocery stores were (and still are) still open, and I started to amass my own staple food supply. Beer and liquor were some of the things I kept “strategic reserves” of. Because, let’s face it: when facing an uncertain future in profoundly weird and frightening times, a stiff drink is always a good comfort. It was during this time that I realized the world of Chinese alcohol was a wonderfully strange and oddly beautiful place. There are traditions and stories of its own that it could tell. That is what I wish to learn with this blog.