Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Dice Game

At the end of a lovely day cruising down Chang Jiang, we were hanging out in this open area outside our room, enjoying the fruits of our decision to "travel Chinese style"...That is, we were chatting, mainly in Mandarin, with our fellow passengers. There was the little baby with the split bottom pants who kept peeing on the carpet. There was the tour guide who usually leads English-speaking groups, but who now has fallen back to running less lucrative domestic excursions, due to the lack of foreign visitors. There was the hard-to-understand Chongqingren who offered me a cigarette as a sign of respect...And I had just bragged how long it had been since my last smoke!

Anyways, we were having a great time, and then we heard some fun and games emanating from the main lounge, one floor up. We decided to go check it out...And that was when the real fun started.

The room was full of passengers being led by crew members in this game of dice. The three dice were red in color and life-sized (if that description makes any sense!). The idea of the game was that, for ten kuai, you got to go up in front of a room full of people and toss the dice over your head. If all three dice landed on the same number, you were a winner. The prize? A bunch of bottles of beer. How many beers? As each try inevitably ended in failure, a beer was added to the collection. After a few minutes, the count was well up over thirty.

It was at that point that the call went out for the laowai to give it a try. We had been hanging quietly in the back, but in reality we stood out no matter where we were on the boat. So there I was, not just once, but twice, and then back for a second encore of tosses. No, this is not a story-book ending, as this laowai had nothing but bad luck.

The fun didn't end there, though. The guy who tallied the highest cumulative total on his tosses was awarded some of the beers. Some of these bottles made it back to our table, and then there was some toasting and...yes...more cigarette smoking.

The game over, the karaoke came back on, and you know what is coming next. I let slip a Chinese song all four of us can sing, and the gang made sure it was cued up in short order. As Desi, Julie, Z, and I belted out Wo Ai Beijing Tian'anmen, we were joined on the floor by people swaying, singing, and taking pictures of us. It sure wasn't the Beatles doing Hey, Jude on the Ed Sullivan Show, but it was a great little moment for four wayward Americans and sixty of our closest Chinese friends.



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