|Still working on my Mammoet memoires, I sometimes remember long forgotten events, which are triggered by stories in the news, for example as published in the ‘Volkskrant’ of 5-04-2018. A picture in spread format is featured of the unexpected visit of Kim Jong-un to Beijing during the diner with Xi Jinping, both apparently having a good time. Laughing Kim is looking at Xi Jinping, who demonstrates how to toast with a glass of Moutai, the national Chinese drink containing a whopping 53% alcohol. Maotai or Moutai is a brand of baijiu, a distilled Chinese liquor (spirit), made in the town of Maotai in China's Guizhou province. Produced by the state-owned Kweichow Moutai Company, the beverage is distilled from fermented sorghum and now comes in several different varieties. It is a popular drink at state functions and one of the country's most popular spirits.
I had the privilege to be invited to a dinner in Dalian, because of the deliverance of a number of General Electric locomotives by Mammoet Shipping. It was an important renovation for the Chinese Railways, who were still in the age of steam locomotives then. The Mammoet delegation was seated at a large round table with an array of delicious dishes. Each plate was accompanied by three glasses, a glas for Chinese red wine (terrible), one for beer (average) and a smal glas for Moutai (delicious).
I did not realise then that Moutai is an very expensive liquor and as explained in the "Volkskrant' it is the habit to raise the glass to your Chinese hosts with the friendship wish ‘Ganbei’ and drink it 'ad fundum. We did that many times that night and I can't remember properly how I found my (hotel) bed. The next day I was supposed to film the discharge of the locomotives from the Mammoet vessel and that is exactly what I did in the early morning. Moutai or no moutai.