Mr. Wang (Chaozhou Tea Culture)
He chain smokes, he jokes (often dirty) constantly, he’s full of energy, he can’t focus on anything for more than a few seconds, he’s like a mouse darting around, he knows everyone in Chaozhou and everything about its culture, he can down a cup of boiling-hot tea in a second… oh yeah, and the only beer he drinks is Heineken. On top of all this, he’s a great guide that expects nothing in return for his services.
We met Mr. Wang through a friend of a friend who told us this guy knows everything about Chaozhou, and he didn’t disappoint! When he heard there was a group (with a foreigner) looking to meet people in the Chaozhou tea industry, he and his friend drove right over to meet us. Within seconds we were in their car and getting a tour of what he considered the best spots in the city.
We met many local artists and artisans through him, and they drove us all over town. We topped off the day by having an extravagant dinner, and it was some of the best Chinese food we’ve ever had! Apparently Hong Kongers come to Chaozhou in droves just to see the Gongfu tea culture and do foodie tours. He also ordered a dozen beers without asking who was drinking and ended up finishing more than half of them himself!
He doesn’t take himself too seriously, and anything is fair game for a joke, dirty or otherwise. He likes to talk himself up too, but in an almost comically obvious fashion that makes everybody laugh out loud. The laughter doesn’t seem to phase him, however, as if he his self-admiration is just another joke of his.
It’s hard to get a read on Mr. Wang at first because he comes on very strong and shows you his true personality from the beginning, which most people don’t expect. Traveling China for years, we’ve seen our fair share of scams and shady businessmen looking to make a quick score, and they usually talk fast and talk big. Our first introduction to Mr. Wang was such a whirlwind that we were in his car before we knew what was happening. When we finally got a chance to talk amongst ourselves in the back seat, we were sure he was taking us to some out-of-the-way factory, just so he could make a commission. Boy were we wrong!
He might be a typical Chaoshan big man, but he was a wonderful host and took us exactly where we wanted to go and exactly where he said he would take us. We had a great time with him, and we’ll be sure to meet up for fine dining, Heineken, and of course tea drinking.