September 25, 2011

Special Bamboo Water Pipes in Yunnan

The generous Foochows would place two packets of cigarettes on each of the banquet tables (square in the olden days and round in the modern days) along side four bottles of Ta Fong Aerated drinks and a bottle of Brandy and some bottles of beer for invited guests during a wedding feast when I was a child growing up in the village of Ah Nang Chong along the Rajang.

And this trip of Yunnan I was brought back to the old days of life in the Rajang....when I saw the cigarettes left on a huge enamel tray for guests to pick up as they brought their money packets for the house warming event. The treasurer of the occasion wrote down each amount of cash received and the guests would sit  at the "cash table" for a smoke and a chat. That's a nice way to welcome guests. And in Yunnan the men smoke like chimneys.

One great difference between the smokers of Sibu and those of Yunnan is the use of the big bamboo pipe.

Yunnan is known for its 18 Oddities. One of them is the huge Bamboo Pipe.
It is actually a water filled long bamboo tube which can be as long as a metre. The people feel that smoking tobacco this way will reduce chances of getting cancer. Because the water purifies the smoke and removes the cancer-inducing elements!

The loose thread like tobacco is burnt  in a cup-topped tube at the base of the pipe. The resonant gurgling noise which accompanies an inhalation is all part of the experience, for smoker and observer alike! Smoking in Yunnan is a social habit and is considered a good way of establishing good relationships!!

What about a smoke friend?

Man enjoying his pipe while waiting for customers for his taxi.
Pipe smoking - when guests arrive for a feast they are expected to smoke using the communal pipe provided (note the low chairs)

More people enjoying the smoking...
Man smoking while waiting for business to come.


Anonymous said...

did you try them,Sarawakiana ? akin to the Hookah it seems.a bit unhygienic if shared around,eh?

- Ah Ngao

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ah Ngao...I only sat near the men and took lots of photos...did not dare to try smoking...I am very allergic to cigarette smoke etc..and may be even to men who smoke..hehehehehe...Have been like that since young..Yeah..unhygienic to share the pipe.

Ann said...

when my Grand dad had his 70th birthday in 1960s in Sibu, we went around the tables lighting people's cigarettes. Now smoking is banned. I am so glad.

Sarawakiana@2 said...


that's very interesting!! I have always known that when a man owns a good cigarette lighter he would always be so happy to light some one up!! It is like having a great honour...

One movie Shanghai Bund made smoking of cigarettes so trendy...and in fact an ART!! No wonder men smoke to get the eye of the ladies...(and I wonder why such ladies love them...) I am for men who don't smoke!!

Do you know that I can even smell the cigarette smoke on the skin of a man ...

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