The Explosive Rice Wine Barrels

During our stay in Shanghai, a group of us went to an old canal village. If memory serves I think it was called Tongli. It was a very pleasant though slightly busy small village with lots of old buildings.

During our bus ride there, where I got to see the full force of a metropolis worth of cars on the road, we kept ourselves entertained by singing songs. One of my friends, a Hammers fan, gave a rendition of ‘I’m forever blowing bubbles’. Not sure what the Chinese people on the bus thought of that.

One part of the village I do remember was a rice wine brewery. We got to see inside and watch some pretty ancient style brewing going on. I can’t imagine methods have changed much in the past several hundred years.

The wine was potent stuff, the type of substance where the fumes are intoxicating. It had a particular taste to it, but with a sharp bite.

While we in the brewery I noticed one of the brewers working on a barrel. They were small, like a party keg than anything else, made of dark stained wood. As he put it away I noticed there were barrels. Lots of barrels. Probably hundreds. Stacked up all over; goodness knows how I didn’t notice before. It occurred to me that with all the fumes it could only take one spark and the place would go up.

That was the day trip to Tongli.


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