Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A line of people

”A line of men/women” is a popular concept in shops and restaurants around China.

What happens is that you enter your shop/restaurant and are greeted by 15 (+) people (standing in a neat line) shouting something like "welcome to our shop/restaurant!” in choirs.

I personally don’t know what the whole deal with the line of such a large amount of people is supposed to represent, but I can only guess that it has to be related to showing that this shop/restaurant surely has a lot of waiters/shop assistants available to look after You. Although… those times when I have entered shops/restaurants and walked passed the ‘line of people’ I have felt completely uncomfortable and unnatural, as I’ve felt that everybody are observing me quite closely (the worse situation is those times when you walk into a ‘line of people restaurant’ during early lunch hours and you’re the first one there. Talk about starring contest). Maybe this feeling is different if you are a Chinese business man, however, and enjoy walking through a throng of pretty waitress women closely observing you? (and some of them, I believe, are not even waitresses, but simply pretty hostesses). Because there has to be some point of it all, right?

Anyways, I thought this concept was limited to restaurants/shops only, so imagine my surprise when I went to the gym the other day. As usual, I took the elevator to the third floor, and when the doors opened and I walked out I was greeted by a loud ‘WELCOME TO OUR GYM!’ I literally flinched, as I wasn’t expecting 10 (+) male and female trainers (and receptionists I am sure?! How can they afford to have 10 trainers standing on a line all night during peak hours? Aren’t they supposed to actually…. Train people?!) to be standing there firing off their best smiles to me. “Uhhhhh…. Not the gym TOO?!” Was the first thought that came to my mind as I made my way to the changing rooms.

But the ‘line of people’ I believe, is a concept that is going to stay in China for a while. Many restaurant staff, shop assistants, yeah, well even the guards in our complex meet a few times/day, stand on a line and shout/sing cheerful songs in order to ‘get into the mood’ (?) for the working day ahead. I’ve also seen a few shops/restaurants having their staff doing some tai qi –like morning exercises, something that I actually find really good! I wouldn’t mind having a compulsory 20 minutes of morning-must-do-exercise every day at work before I sat down in front of my computer… although then I am trying to imagine all the ‘important’ people working at Ikea in Sweden standing in a line and doing their morning exercise every single day and that image goes down the drain.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Spice up your day at Qipu Lu

Well, much better than those usual fake markets...

Back after a blog free weekend. Sorry. But I was in the need of a break.

Friday’s exam went quite badly, so when my classmate Willing magically pulled out two train tickets to Shanghai from her purse and asked me if I was keen to join her, I started jumping up and down. Down the drain went my plans of a ‘healthy’ (home cooked tofu with veggies and cottage cheese + a 6 mile run) and a ‘productive’ Friday (58 new words and 2 –already delayed- homework essays was on my ‘to do list’). Instead, we jumped into a taxi and headed to Suzhou's railway station.

Since Willing’s tickets were for 11am and it was only 9.15am, we decided to try and change them for an earlier train. We tried the ticket office first, but it was useless. Then we tried to ‘discreetly’ sneak onto the train anyways, but as you all might be able to figure out –being 175 cm tall, blonde and discrete is kind of hard to pull off over here (my attempt to stuff my hair inside my hat and look like a bold, tall person didn’t pay off either). I was stopped straight away and Willing received angry stares from the train guards, almost as if they were telling her to ‘take better care of her mischievous laowai.’ (I love how everyone sees us together and take for granted that she is my translator just because she's Asian). 

One and a half hours later (spent on KFC –oh, this was a quality Friday) we got on our train and went to Shanghai. The first thing we did in Shanghai was to go and stuff ourselves at my favorite Hunan restaurant (first not-home-made-meal of this week… allow me to be excused) followed by coffee and a cookie (whoops, no excuse for that one) and when we felt as if we were about to explode of all the food, Willing suggested we’d go to Shanghai’s infamous ‘Qi Pu Lu’ and indulge in cheap shopping. I wasn’t hard to convince.

During my 2.5 years in China I have never actually been to this Qi Pu Lu place (the name, ‘qipu lu’ is a supposed to sound like ‘cheap lu’ because it is said to be so cheap). Although I have heard a LOT of stuff about it. It seems that Qipu Lu is one of those places that people love to hate? Or maybe that’s just an idea I’ve been getting, but comments about Qipu Lu often goes like:

-The sale’s people there are crazy. They pull you and follow you around.

-The clothes are cheap but the quality sucks. Wash it once and it will fall apart.

-It’s too packed with people.

-....and thieves!

-The sales people are so aggressive….

Well first of all, the place was huge. So I never experienced it as impossible to escape those annoying sale’s people who kept following us around (a bit of rudeness here gets you far). Thieves? Well no one put their hands in my bags. Packed? Sure. But what cheap shopping mall in China isn’t?

We spend a good 3 hours at Qipu Lu… bargaining, looking around… laughing at the funny comments we got in the shops. This one is a classic:

-Sorry you are too big, I have nothing you can buy (Said by the sales lady in a shorts’ shop). Of course I HAD to prove her wrong and that I did buy buying a pair of shorts with a superficial smile on my face, going ‘sure I can get into these… I am not THAT big you know!!’ (and seriously, I thought I would, they didn’t look that small after all). Turned out, however, that the sale’s girl was right. I could get them over my hips (impressive!) but I couldn’t close the button. Lord, I am happy that I couldn’t try them on in the shop.

And then, the usual 'warning' sign when I get close (which makes everyone turn around and look at me)….:

-Laowai lai le, laowai lai le!! (Laowai arriving!)

(and then, 34 seconds later when I took a hike)

-Laowai pao le, laowai pao le…. (laowai leaving)

And then of course, the standard:

-30 kuai?! Are you crazy? This dress costs 90 kuai, the absolute lowest I can go is 80!

-OK, then I don’t want it. Bye.

-How about 60?





-OK, bye.

-Wait, OK, 30!

(Damn, I should have said 20).

All in all it was a quite OK afternoon. A little mood booster and a nice change of scene. And did I buy anything? Sure I did (except for those shorts I couldn’t fit into –the rest actually fit). Will I go again? Maybe not... Although, ask me after our next exam and you’ll probably see me running towards the train station….

Friday, March 27, 2009

Photo special: Running and races in China

Shanghai marathon 2006
Starting line

Suzhou University sport's day, October 2008

HHH at Taihu Lake (it was about 35 degrees and very humid that day!)
HHH run at Taihu Lake, September 2008
Hangzhou race, November 2008

I’m a bit in a hurry this morning (kou yu exam in 1 hour!) so I’ll give you a picture special that sums up what’s been on my mind all week: running and exercising! I think putting on a bit of weight actually has had a good effect on me… because now I am training harder than I have done for a long time! And I am paying much more attention to what I eat, and how much I eat. I am not only keen to get back to my normal shape, but I am also keen to push a little bit extra this time… and get really fit for summer!

The beauty of training and exercising (like always) is: it gives so much energy, and the feeling of relief and happiness after a long run is simply wonderful. I’m combining running with weight training, and this week I’ve been cooking for myself every single day. It might just be a mental thing, but I already feel less bloated and therefore also more ‘firm’ than I’ve done in a long time. Yesterday I had zero motivation to workout, but still pushed myself to go for a 30 min run… once I started running I felt better and I ended up doing 10 km within 57 minutes. Gotta love those days.

I’ve been thinking about starting an additional blog, a training/food blog, to document my training/eating. I’ve written down everything from training results to meals before, on an on/off basis and it really IS a good way to keep track of how your are doing. Also, when writing it down it gets harder to come up with excuses and you cannot hide behind anything if you put on weight… the truth is right in front of you in your food/exercise diary.

The good thing about doing a training/food diary online is that you can get tips/advices/inputs from other people who are into the same sort of lifestyle (or others who think you are totally over the top –there’s a charm with that one too!).

But let’s see if I do it or not… But like I said, if I do, it will be an additional blog to this one, so SHE in China will still be going strong. The other blog would only be about training stuff… in that way, all of those who are not one bit interested in training don’t have to get bored when reading about my training ups and downs in this blog.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

First exam and thoughts about the future

Had my first exam yesterday. My first spoken exam that was the ’written part of spoken Chinese’ (how does that even work?! Ask our teacher and he will tell you that 'in order to speak you need to be able to know how to write everything you want to say…' or something like that). The teacher (our lovely, 口语 老师 -kou yu teacher) had said beforehand that the exam was going to be ‘soooo easy’ that most of us probably only needed 30 min to complete it, although the absolute maximum amount time that we could use was 50 minutes. Do I need to mention that no one (not even A-student girl) finished within 30 minutes and, that after 50 minutes, a lot of students hadn’t even started on the last part, which was to write a dialogue. Yeah, that’s right. Write a dialogue. Now that’s a skill I’ll take with me later in life…

However, this was just part one of the test, the second part (where we actually get to speak –weeeehooo! We have something like 5 unique minutes each!) will take place this Friday. We have to prepare 4 topics (he has decided which ones, everything from ‘ideal work’ –easy, I hope I get that one to ‘downsides with raising pets’ –less dogs for the public to eat? To ‘how our home country preserves culture and history’ –probably the hardest one) and then on the exam day he will chose one out of this four that we then have to speak about for 5 minutes. Now if this isn’t testing our speaking skill, what is?

Ehum. Anyways.

Still, I DO think this teacher is right about one thing: he gives us exams after every 3 chapters. That’s the best thing I’ve experiences so far in exam-China, because it gives you a chance to actually LEARN the words/grammar from these chapters rather than pushing too much information (from 10+ chapters) into your brain some days before the ‘big, final exam.’ So there we go. He’s not totally out there.

And speaking about exams.

Yesterday I realized that as a result of me being late to one of my HSK lessons last week, I totally missed out on the information the gave in the beginning of the class about signing up for the April HSK exam. So, when I went to enquire about it yesterday they told me that it was already too late to sign up. Ahhhhhgrrrr!!! Note to self: never be late for lessons. And pay more attention to information boards. Don’t just walk around and think about what you are going to have for lunch all the time…

Solution: sign up for the HSK exam in June instead. (Does anyone know when it is?)

Then another question has bubbled up to the surface. A quite scaaaary question actually…Namely: the future.

What do I want to do this fall? Continue with level 6 at the university? (not tempting at the moment... although in a way I feel this is what I 'should do') Get a private tutor? Or give up studying and try to get a good job? (although what good media jobs are around in times like this. Ehum, yeah, exactly).

So, I think I’ll just push that question a bit further away from me for now, and give myself the whole of April to just ‘be’ before I make the important decision.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Under pressure

Like I’ve told you guys before, I am working extra as a private English tutor for some Korean kids (nothing I applied for –it just fell into my lap. I was approached and asked if I could teach a 10-year old Korean girl by a Korean family one day when I was studying at Starbucks. The fact that I have no previous teaching experience didn’t matter –I guess my blond hair made up for it- and then it was on) and I have to say that I find the amount of pressure those kids are under quite… appalling.

Since the first Korean family was so happy with my ‘work’ (when I started teaching their daughter the girl was very shy and quiet and didn’t really dare to speak… I therefore decided to skip the books and the grammar and just focus on getting her to talk on her own… with the help of games, questions and me not being scared of making a fool of myself I managed -1 month later I couldn’t get her to stop talking! All her English was there –she just needed to work up some guts to start using it. Once she did, things went fast. In school, she was moved up to the ‘highest level of English’ in her class and the parents –who couldn’t even read the letter she got from the school, because their English is non-existent- thought it was all because of me and looooooved me) they recommended me to another family, that has a 7-year-old son whose English was said to be ‘so bad’.

The problem with this little kid was almost identical to the other Korean student. Although there was also the fact that he was so young. So I focused on games and having fun and only 2 weeks later he too was talking as if he’d never done anything else in his life (and nowadays I get served cheese cake every time I arrived –not so good for my figure I guess but I can tell that this is something I should not refuse… During the first lesson I ‘only’ got a glass of juice).

What I find the most striking with these families is that their kids are so young, but under so much pressure to learn three languages (Korean, Chinese and English) meanwhile their parents… only speak Korean! If I have something I need to say, I communicate to the kids, who then translate to their parents. School letters, grades and such (some things that the kids don’t understand) I have to read and explain to the kid, who then explains it to the parents.

Both dads of the two families are working in another city and the moms are typical ‘taitais.’ Home all day doing…. Yeah, what are they doing? Well I have actually no idea but I would guess.... Cooking? Cleaning? Well, they both have an ayi for that? Shopping? Telling their kids to do homework maybe?

Just the other week the mom to the 7-year-old stopped me on my way out, asking me (in poor Chinese) if I was still studying at Suzhou University (something she knew via the other family).

-Yes I do! I said. Oh, you can also speak some Chinese?

-Yeah, I studied there last semester. Only level 1.

-Why did you stop?

-I am too busy nowadays… with my sport studies.

-Sport studies?

-Yeah, I play golf!

-Oh, right…. Great!

Yup. Let the kids learn the languages so the mom can play golf. I know that things are different here to where I come from –but I still cannot stop wondering why these families put so much pressure on the kids meanwhile they are not willing to learn for themselves? Both moms are still quite young. Does personal goal go down the drain as soon as you pop out a baby over here?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

It all comes down to one thing...

Since eavesdropping is now a hobby of mine (I excuse myself with the fact that it is a good way to practice my Chinese listening skills) I took a study break (from studying for Wednesday’s exam) yesterday at Starbucks by listening into a small, five-year-old Chinese girl talking to a male Starbuck’s clerk.

The Starbuck’s clerk was this young, quite good-looking guy who is always joking with customers (I know I know… I hang out at this Starbucks way too often, although let me defend myself –I don’t know his name!) and this time he was charming the little girl who was twirling with delight in front of him.

-So you are in kindergarten? He asked her.

-Yes! I am. Are you too?

-Yes, but you know… I am a bit older than you so I am in older people’s kindergarten!

-What is older people’s kindergarten like?

-It is fun! But a little bit hard at times.

-Are you smart?

-Yes I am smart.

-Are you married?

-No I am not married?

-Then you are not smart. You should be married. You are too old not to be married!

-You think I am old?!
The Starbuck’s clerk looked seriously hurt.

-Yes you are old! And you are in old people’s kindergarten! So you should be married! It is very important to get married!

I almost choked on my coffee... Wow…. They sure teach their kids the importance of life quite early over here?!

Book smart VS street smart

I was having lunch with my classmate Willing the other day and I couldn’t help but whine for a bit about how hard our classes are. Willing responded just the way I didn’t want her to:

-You think it is hard? I think our lessons are OK! I understand everything in the classroom…

(Yeah, just rub it in, will ya….!) But then she added:

-Although as soon as I leave the classroom I feel all stupid! No one understands me, and I don’t understand them! I feel so stupid using Chinese outside the classroom.

A large smile found its way to my face.

-I am the complete opposite. I have no problem talking with or understanding locals but I find the classes extremely hard.

Funny how things are.

Then we spent the rest of the lunch eavesdropping as the table next to us was full of Chinese people. And believe it or not, I, who absolutely suck at ‘listening classes’ in school, understood pretty much everything meanwhile Willing, who’s a total star in class, barely got the general idea of what they were talking about.

Although once we got back to school and went into a class together I completely forgot about all of this and went back to feeling ‘dumb/stupid/slow’ as I was the only one being complete dumbstruck by the teachers writing, meanwhile everyone else was nodding along.

Maybe I should just accept matters. I will never become class-smart. But street-smart maybe isn’t that bad after all?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Adding up

Delicious but deceiving  

All visitors that we've had have said the same thing during their first attempt to eat with sticks:

-Gosh, it is hard to pick up food with these things! But in a way it is good! I normally eat so fast, and with sticks I can’t so I eat much slower and therefore also less!

I normally just smile, nod and go ‘yeah, isn’t it great’ although I know it is not.

Sure, you might eat a bit slower with sticks during your first, hesitative week in China. But wait until you’ve figured out how to use those babies. And worked up some speed. That’s when sticks become more dangerous than a fork and a knife. While a fork and a knife might be good helpers to cutting meat and picking up stuff, sticks allow you to ‘shove’ food into your mouth (not that I’ve done that… eh... or OK, maybe once or twice…)

And since we are on the subject of ‘food myths’….. Chinese food doesn’t make you eat less. Rather, having 4-5 different dishes to pick up food from (as well as a bowl of rice) often leads to overeating. Especially if it is yummy. At least in my case, since I don’t know when to stop (or OK, I do… but still, I don’t).

So, what does eating fast + overeating often lead to… yup… weight gain! You need to be no Sherlock Homes to figure that one out. And then I haven’t even gotten into the fact that most Chinese food is swimming in copious amounts of oil.... Oil that simply cannot be good for you. Not in those amounts anyways. 

I wasn’t one of those who moved to China and put on a lot of weight during my first 6 months. Rather, I lost quite a lot of kilos as a result of: not training (farewell muscles), being stomach sick at least once a month (farewell flab), not loving Chinese food (and therefore not eating it on an everyday basis), not being able to work the sticks with speed, and not being in love with rice… (where I come from, it is all about potatoes).

But, once the stomach got used to the new bacteria environment, the fingers worked up some ‘stick’ speed and I worked up an appetite for Chinese food things started to turn around. Still, because of my love for healthy, home-made food, as well the fact that I started exercising, I managed to stay in shape….

…until I got lazy. It happened around the beginning of this year. Oven made salmon with veggies was replaced by every-day-eating-out or ordering in. Hello dumplings, mapu tofu and gong bao ji ding (chicken). Hello oil, rice and eating much more than you need. Every day. At lunch and dinner.

And then I realized I was addicted to rice. I couldn’t eat a single meal without a rice bowl next to me. The painful truth hit me when I was at a Xinjiang restaurants and ordered a lamb meat/bread dish, as well as a spicy chicken-potato-noodle pot. And a bowl of rice.

-You really need rice as well?! Asked my Chinese friend.

-Of course I do!!

(ehhhhh??? I did? I am not so sure).

Reality hit me as a painful slap in the face during the beginning of this week when I decided to wear my lose ‘comfy’ jeans to school… and realize that I could barely button them up anymore. Whoa whoa whoa… what’s going on here?!

Well, eating fast + over eating + carb overload + oily food = weight gain. DESPITE the fact that I work out almost religiously.

Since I am (or OK, used to be) a bit of a health freak (although I admit it –I am mainly strict about working out 4-5 times/week –I rarely care about what I eat) I am going to take immediate action. Wave farewell to the sticks and the rice bowls for a while. And start making my own food. Maybe limit eating out (which includes ordering in) to 3 times/week. It sucks –because I looooove Chinese food. But large amounts of oil and carbs simply aren’t helping me to get ready for summer. Even though I really wish it was.

Don’t get me wrong though. I am not going on any salad diet. Gosh no no no. Salad doesn’t do it for me. And ‘diet’ is a BAD word in my world. But cooking on your own is good because it gives you a more honest idea of what you are eating as well as how much you are eating. So that’s the only thing I am changing. Although I admit, I am going to miss the rice bowl a lot.... 

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Photo special: 双溪, 湖南 (Shuangxi, Hunan).

You'll find more about the visit to Shuangxi (pictures as well as text) here 

Friday, March 20, 2009


I would lie if I said I felt motivated to blog today. Lately I’ve been so homesick and today (despite the sunshine outside my window and the fact that it’s Friday) the feeling is more intense than ever. There’s nothing wrong or unusual about with being homesick, I’ve been living abroad for the last eight years, and of course these feelings have caught up with me before. But this time the feeling has lingered for a while. It might have something to do with the fact that my sister just had a baby and I just wish I could have been there. I don’t know how many babies, puppies, weddings, and special days I’ve missed out on over the years, but obviously that’s the price you have to pay when you choose to live abroad.

I hope no one out there misinterpret this post: I feel happy and grateful that I live here in China and I don’t have anything big to complain about in life (I don't like to see myself as someone who complains about the most petty things), but I can still feel homesick right? It has nothing to do with feeling sorry for yourself –it is just a feeling that sometimes catches you and stay with you for a shorter/longer period of time, until you feel ready to shake it off, and start enjoying the fact that you are living abroad again. I’m not saying that it’s anything serious, gosh, no, I could just pack my bag and go home, it is not any harder than that. But of course I won’t. I've enjoyed 90% of the time I've spent here, so I just have to stick this 10% of homesickness out.  

So, I guess I will just plaster a big smile on my face, study the 89 new characters I have to learn today, write a home-work essay (that was due yesterday –whoops!), and hit the gym for a much-needed work-out session. That normally swifts my mood. I tried the whole ‘comfort food from Sweden’ thing yesterday (with copious amounts of chocolate) but it didn’t do the job (instead, it is one of the reason why my gym session is ‘much needed’ today… hehe!).

Anyways, I just wanted to explain why today’s blog post isn’t a quality one. See you tomorrow instead, have a good Friday!

I wish I could spend some time with....:
nature (clean air!!)
pregnant friends

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Sticking to rules or 'feeling' when learning a new language

My Japanese classmate Erica (from when I did level 2) always stuck to the rules...

I’ve now taken 2 weeks of the HSK course and I have to say that I am impressed! The teachers are much better than my ’level 5’ teachers (one of them is my old male teacher from level 4 and he’s the best teacher I’ve ever had. He explain things so well with so few words –amazing what difference a good/bad teacher makes?!) Also, my classmates are a mix of students from level 4, 5 and 6… and it somehow makes a good combination? The atmosphere in the class is friendly, rather than super competitive. Ah, I love those classes! I wish I had those every day rather than just 2 afternoons/week.

So far the HSK content has been quite OK. I’ve realized that in order to score well on an HSK exam you have to know a lot of characters. Do I do that? No. So I am probably not going to score well. But I think I will learn loads from taking this course, and that’s all that matters.

One thing that have made me thoughtful, however, is when the teachers explain the grammar exercises to us, and tell us how we can, just by just sticking to the Chinese language grammar rules, figure out how each and every sentence should be written even though we might not understand the meaning of the words. Rules, rules, rules… the more we talk about them, the more I realize that I know… ehum, very little about Chinese grammar rules. Sure, I know the basics, but that’s about it… In fact, I don’t even consider rules when I write in Chinese. I always go on feeling, and just put thing together after the way it sounds… When I get a sentence in front of me with an additional character that I have to put into the sentence, I don’t even think about ‘where it should be’ –rather, I just read the sentence, and try to ‘hear’ where the character should fit in…

I’ve been the same with every single language I have learned (English, Spanish, French…). I skip the rules and stick to ‘what sounds right.’ This is obviously a VERY stupid learning method (especially since what I think ‘sounds right’ doesn’t always add up with how it actually is supposed to be) but I don’t know how to change it. Sometimes I think to myself that ‘now I should really just think about the rules rather than what sounds good’ but 20 seconds later I have forgot all about it…

So therefore I’d like to ask you all –when learning a new language, how do you guys do it? Do you follow the grammar rules of the language, or do you just go with what ‘feels/sounds’ right?

I’m the same even in Swedish I have realized. Since my boyfriend is currently learning Swedish he often asks me questions like ‘why is it like this and this and not like that and that?’ and I have no idea what to answer? ‘Eh… because. It just is. You can hear it. Can’t you? Just read it out loud to yourself and you will hear it, right?’

Obviously he can’t (Gosh, I am a terrible ambassador of my native language).

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hot western men. And 'fat' western ladies.


We are having two visitors from Finland this week (two lovely guys in their late 20-ies) turning our every-day Suzhou life into a quite interesting experience. I wouldn’t say that these 2 guys are male models in any way, although I guess they look quite OK, take care of themselves and their bodies, and pay attention to what their wearing. And what does having guys like this around you result in at a place like Suzhou? Yup. Chaos.

The hysteria started when I took them for lunch on Monday. There were at least 6 waiters around our table when they took our order (normally there are 2). One girl holding the menu, one taking notes, one pouring tea, one putting out napkins, and 2 extras just giggling and running around.

Before we had finished our meal the following things had happened:

• One girl almost started crying because she thought the guys were so handsome.
• One guy came up and wanted to know where they had bought their clothes because they looked ‘so good!!’ (we had to write down the brands on a piece of paper).

I then sent the guys to Suzhou’s shopping street meanwhile I went home to study. They came home later the same day with heads so big they were about to explode, telling me about how they’d been surrounded by girls who wanted to take their picture, gotten handwritten love notes and created hysteria in every shop where they walked in.

I couldn’t help but thinking that it is so funny how things is over here… Western guys in China are treated like kings. Sure, when I visited Changsha recently with my Scandinavian girlfriends we got a lot of attention, but it was more like ‘monkey attention’ (at least we didn’t experience any Chinese guys going hysterical when they saw us… and no love notes were passed around).

Then there’s the whole thing with shopping… A ‘fat’ male laowai in China is something you can laugh/joke about and he’s still kind of wanted, meanwhile I’ve received the most obscure comments about my weight (I think the most memorable one is: ‘well no you are not extremely fat. You just have VERY VERY VEEEEERY big bones and quite little meat!’) not to mention the fact that every time I go shopping here and pick out a sweater in the size ‘medium’ the shop assistants often try to get me to swap it to a ‘large’ or even ‘extra large' and keep shaking their heads when I insist on trying on the medium one (even though I am definitely not a 'large' woman... I would describe myself as quite 'normal' in terms of weight. Just because I am tall and possess big feet, that doesn't mean I have a lot of access weight) I have talked to many laowai ladies (western women) living in China that have had similar experiences. So meanwhile the men get a total confidence booster from shopping I often experience it as a complete confidence killer.

Often when I try to discuss this ‘different treatment’ with western men here in China I get comments like:

-Ah, you are just jealous!!!


-well, just deal with it. We are hotter than you!

So obviously I’ve given up. My point is actually not to make any point, but more like to laugh about a situation that –if you look at it from the outside- it is kind of obscure!