Wednesday, February 25, 2009

"你去哪儿玩儿?"/ "Where do you go for fun?"

I had an interesting conversation with a foot masseur the other day. While he was frowning at my extremely ugly toes I felt I needed to explain that I wasn’t actually born like that, but that the reason why some of them are… ehum, black, is because I like running (and no matter what shoes I put on there is one nail that always goes black. I reckon my feet might be a bit defamed, but that’s another story).

My interest in running was kind of interesting to the guy. He continued asking me how often I run and if I consider it to be ‘fun’ or if I do it just because I ‘have to.’ No, I consider running to fun, I answered (partly true… at least on some days) and then he wanted to know what else I do for fun here in Suzhou. Like, during weekends and such.

-I often go the gym, or I hang out with friends at cafés and restaurants. If I want to go shopping I normally go to Shanghai. If the weather is bad I like to stay home and read or write, or watch a movie...

-How about Suzhou's bar street? (the infamous Shiquan Jie)

-Not really (not my cup of tea –well at least not in Suzhou) So how about you?


-Yeah, what do you do for fun?

-I go to the Suzhou gardens. Have you been?

-Yes once.

-Ah, I have been one and a half time.

-One and a half?

-Yeah. I went to one garden once. And then I have been outside another one. So one and a half.

-But you said you go there for fun?


-But you have only been once?

-One and a half!

-Yeah, OK. But what else do you do for fun?

-I already told you!

-Except for the garden, where else do you go?

I don’t know why I couldn’t get across this second time. But the guy never gave me a clear answer. It was as if I had stepped over the line asking what else he likes to do when he is not in/outside a famous Suzhou garden.

So I asked another friend what she does for fun during her weekends in Suzhou.

-Sleep, she said.

-Just sleep?

-And go to different restaurants. Sometimes I go swimming.

-Oh cool.

-Well I have only been once.

-Oh, OK.

Hm… so is that the deal here. You’ve been once and you add it to your list of fun? In that case my list of fun is also a fair bit more interesting than what I first mentioned: horseback riding at a cowboy ranch outside Suzhou (more about that some other time), HHH 3-hour-run at the Taihu Lake, daytrip to Zhu Jia Jiao, mini-marathon around Jinji Hu (I got lost) as well as brunch at the Sheraton. Yup, just once but it was great fun!

Yup, just some regular weekend activity over here.... Let me introduce my friend Luke! 


Anna Davidson said...

I find the same in Wuxi Jonna....whenever you ask the Chinese staff what they did on the weekend, they always just say that they rested, never anything else. Then I feel bad as I rattle off the list of things I did. Interesting!

Anonymous said...

haha hauskaa! ooh kuinka palvon sua.. haluasinkin lähteä johonkin! oliks suomioppiminen vaikeaa? =)

CJ said...

Ha ha !thats really funny:-).
Sometimes i ask people what they do in spare time? Then they say that read books and it turns out that they will have read a book for the first time in their life!!

Anonymous said...


Kosmo said...

I wonder what the reason for this is? Each person seemed willing to share the initial information with you, why not talk about other activities/hobbies?

Personally, I love to talk about my hobbies and interests - it's not hard to get me started talking; it's hard getting me to shut up :) (On the flip side, I also have a sincere interest in other people's hobbies and interests)

Jonna Wibelius said...

I guess Chinese people are quite private about how they spend their free time?? It's quite funny though.. it is totally OK to tell others how high your salary are but when it comes to revealing what u did last weekend... secret!!!

mantse said...

i think is not Chinese feel shy to tell others people what they did during weekend, is really they have nothing to do during weekends.

When i was worked at Beijing before, my roommate(a mainland Chinese) stayed at home but i would like to go out every week.

this may related to workload and stressful life that they would like to have a rest, or they live at that city for a long period, they feel nothing special to go out....

Christopher said...

I've been enjoying your blog a lot since I found it on the blogs of note.

I have also noticed the same thing at the training centre where I work. Almost every day I ask the questions, "What's your favourite hobby?" or "What did you do over the weekend?" and invariably I get the answer, "sleep". I think some people actually don't have time for hobbies, I have students telling me how they sleep at their offices sometimes, no time for extra curricular activities for them.

Great blog, thank you :)

emily said...

I love your blog... I started following when it was "blog of note." It always makes me smile to read your adventures in China. I am from the US and living in the Middle East, so I have similar encounters where I am left thinking, "what the heck just happened?!?!"
Thanks for sharing your experiences!

Anonymous said...

That's an interesting way of thinking of the world of "fun" but then it makes the list really long...

Traff said...

Ha - I'm Australian but I'm like this at work... don't like telling people what I do on the weekend. I'd rather keep an air of mystery about me :)

Anonymous said...

Maybe they just don't have anything exciting to report? For example, maybe they play cards or majong, or play computer games for the whole weekend and it would be embarrassed to admit it.

Jonna Wibelius said...

Finnish, anonymous reader: although I lived in Finland for 1 year I am ashamed to admit that I didn't pick up any of the language during that time, so sorry, I can't understand what that 'hauskaa...' means...

Emily -so glad to hear u r enjoying my blog :) (I was so lucky to be a blog of note... :)) Yup, living overseas sure makes life a lot more interesting than the 'everyday life' back home... Gosh, makes the thought of (one day) returning 'home' quite... scary!

Chris -I enjoy your blog too :) Yeah, before when I was working in SH some of my workmates used to give me the same response when I asked them about their wknds... I still find it kind of strange? Chinese people are such social creature, always looking for 're nao'... why would they stay in sleeping all wknd? The streets are still always packed with people though so I am not quite sure that I buy the whole 'I slept through the whole wknd' response...

Mantse -that's quite sad although of course there are people like that everywhere in the world.

Anonymous: playing cards and majong is nothing I would be ashamed of telling other I spent the wknd doing... :) I love both of those :)

Colleen said...

My husband and I sometimes say stuff like, "Oh, I always do ... " when it's something we've only done once. It's kind of our little joke, but I don't know where it came from. I think that's pretty funny.

Unknown said...

The first time I read this, I skipped over the first sentance, so I thought there was a random guy that came up to you to stare at your feet.

Now I know I need to practice reading correctly.

Anonymous said...

Foot massagers work like at least 10 hours a day, 6 days a week. When do they have time to do anything but sleep eat and if they are lucky, meet friends?

Swiss James said...

When I ask the guys at my work they normally say they sleep too, or that they were doing some kind of out of hours work.

I often wonder if I'm kind of intruding on their privacy by asking.

But then I remembered that the Chinese don't give a toss about privacy!

kasey said...

How long is the weekend? If I worked for 10 to 12 hours a day 6 days a week I would sleep alot too. Especially if my pay was very little and I was helping to support my parents and family. Which I know is not the case for everyone, but for a lot of people, especially those who work in services catering to others.