Sunday, November 16, 2008

Last from Kunming

Hey! This is probably the last post for a while... we're going to Shaxi on Tuesday, where I probably won't be able to post, and I don't know how it'll be in Cambodia.
We'll see how it goes.
I went to a Chinese wedding last week with Katie R., it was very cool. Also very different! We were told that casual dress was fine- like, really casual. I was wearing sweatpants and a tee shirts that morning, and I didn't have a chance to change before the wedding (it was fairly last minute), but I wasn't really under dressed at all. Some people wore suits, but most were in jeans and other casual clothes. We got to the hotel it was at, and were instantly hurried over to the bride and groom for pictures. He was in a fairly standard suit, she was in a disney princess style gown, all floaty and white and sparkly. She was positively dripping in diamonds (or something like them), and had a sparkly tiara cocked rakishly on the side of her head. She had a white fur stole around her shoulders.
After Katie and I took plenty of pictures with the bride, we were brought inside to a large room full of tabels and people smoking. In the center of each table was a dish full of candy and cigarettes, as well as plates of wrapped food. The dinner started shortly after, and everyone smoked and ate as more and more dishes were brought to the lazy susan in the center of our table. There was literally a cloud of smoke hovering over the room.
Eventually some of the people got up and stood around the top of the stairs, and the bride and groom came in to music that sounded like it was from Jurassic Park. Although some people were throwing roses and confetti on them as the went to the platform at the front of the room, most were still eating, talking, and smoking.
Throughout the ceremony we could barely see or hear what was going on, as everyone kept talking and a crowd of professional photographers clustered around the stage and took photos from every angle, sometimes right up in the bride's face.
The ceremony itself was nothing like in America. There was a lot of bowing- to the parents, to each other, to everyone. They drank from each others cups, and each of the parents made a speech. The bride's mother wore a tight sparkly pink dress that made her look a bit like a mermaid, and I thought she was a hired MC for the first half of the night. The whole thing was done like a fairy tale, with small lights hanging from the ceiling and millions of rose petals.
After the ceremony was over the bride and groom went off, and three girls in see through, neon yellow harem pants and bra tops with tassels hanging off came on stage and belly danced for a while. No joke. They would go off and change when the music ended and come back in some completely different costume and do more.
Eventually the bride came back in a beautiful red dress, and made the rounds saying hi to people. The parents, meanwhile, were going to each table and toasting with very strong alcohol. After the bride came back I left, because I had a lot to do and the main stuff was over. I heard later from Katie that the whole wedding party went off to kareoke afterwards. Incidentally, the groom was Katie's host uncle, so that's why we were there.
It's been great here. I love Kunming, I hope I come back someday. Next time I hope to be a little healthier- I've had this damn plague since we got here. I can't stop coughing! Two days ago they gave me a million pills to take three times a day, and I actually think I'm finally getting better. It's all Chinese medicine, so I have no idea what it is. Hopefully it's working.
Ok, bye!

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