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Author Topic: Things other expats do that drive you insane  (Read 35066 times)

The Local Dialect

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Re: Things other expats do that drive you insane
« Reply #30 on: May 07, 2012, 01:53:53 PM »
Hey, if we can vent about the locals, we can vent about ourselves, right? In fact, venting about ourselves is even more fun than venting about the poor locals. We know these people. We are these people.

Like Fozz, I've had my asshole moments. I'm sure most of us have. I'm pretty sure I was an insufferable know-it-all China apologist in my 20s, and I can be pretty smug about speaking Chinese. I remember getting into a pretty cringeworthy online argument about T*bet about 5 years back.  

So, back on track. This is probably, for me, one of the most irritating types of foreigner -- the "in search of authenticity" laowai. The guy who refuses to set foot in a Western restaurant because "this is China, why would you cross oceans to eat that stuff?" The same guy who begrudges China their McD's and their Wal-Marts (Wal-Mart in China? Cultural imperialism!). He goes on vacations to shitholes because they're "untouched by Western commercialism," and, if he happens to see another foreigner on his travels, he studiously avoids them because he has to believe he is the first foreigner the villagers have ever seen. This guy is constantly in search of the "real China." That's a phrase that totally shits me. Real China? As opposed to what, the fake China where most of us live? Fuck off.

babala

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Re: Things other expats do that drive you insane
« Reply #31 on: May 07, 2012, 02:23:27 PM »
Foreigners who don't know me and speak Chinese to me. I totally get it if you are both studying Chinese but when I used to work at the bar and a foreigner would come in and order in bad Chinese. This one guy used to ask for his beer in Chinese but 2x in a row got it wrong so I would open a beer for him and then he would tell me in English "oh no, that's not what I wanted" llllllllll

Western women who think that every Chinese man should automatically want them and are shocked and offended when a guy doesn't fall all over them.
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opiate

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Re: Things other expats do that drive you insane
« Reply #32 on: May 07, 2012, 02:55:46 PM »
-Foreign guys in traditional Chinese clothes. An attractive foreign chick can wear a qipao (sexy Chinese dress) and look amazing but the guys just look retarded with traditional clothes.
-The folks who live here for years and still can't speak 8 words of Chinese.
-I don't know how to explain this one well and I saw only one guy do it (in a photo at my school) but I can't forget it. Every time I see the photo I have the urge to track him down and kick him in the teeth. It's a group photo of about 30 staff members all smiles, FT' and CT's. This clown is standing in the front of the group in a subservient bowing position with one fist in the palm of his other hand.

That guy can likely now be found searching for the 'real' China.

zero

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Re: Things other expats do that drive you insane
« Reply #33 on: May 07, 2012, 06:39:07 PM »
I know this is a hard fact to face, and it took me a long time to come to grips with it. But there's pretty much no way for a foreigner to use Chinese, in any amount or any situation, without looking like a big douche. There, I said it.

Edit: corrected typo.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2012, 02:01:41 PM by zero »

Stil

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Re: Things other expats do that drive you insane
« Reply #34 on: May 07, 2012, 11:08:57 PM »

I know this is a hard fact to face, and it took me a long time to come to grips with it. But there's pretty much know way for a foreigner to use Chinese, in any amount or any situation, without looking like a big douche. There, I said it.


I don't get this.... What do you mean?

Fozzwaldus

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Re: Things other expats do that drive you insane
« Reply #35 on: May 07, 2012, 11:31:12 PM »
He means there's no way for a laowai to use Chinese without looking stupid.

I mean, it's hard to look cool in any foreign language, but there are ways, and I think the Chinese are more generous than most in attempting to get along with pidgin mandarin, if they can't speak English that is.
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tomhume89

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Re: Things other expats do that drive you insane
« Reply #36 on: May 08, 2012, 02:51:09 AM »
I think I agree with pretty much everything everyone has said in this thread.

Escaped Lunatic

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Re: Things other expats do that drive you insane
« Reply #37 on: May 08, 2012, 08:06:04 AM »
So, back on track. This is probably, for me, one of the most irritating types of foreigner -- the "in search of authenticity" laowai. The guy who refuses to set foot in a Western restaurant because "this is China, why would you cross oceans to eat that stuff?" The same guy who begrudges China their McD's

Is it ok to avoid McD's worldwide because it sucks?  I'd kicked the McD's habit back in 2004.  The last 2 times I ate a burger there were in 2006 in China.  The quality hadn't improved. aaaaaaaaaa

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and their Wal-Marts (Wal-Mart in China? Cultural imperialism!).

I despise Wal-Mart in all countries, but somehow I still end up shopping there. kkkkkkkkkk

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He goes on vacations to shitholes because they're "untouched by Western commercialism," and, if he happens to see another foreigner on his travels, he studiously avoids them because he has to believe he is the first foreigner the villagers have ever seen.

I think I do qualify as the first foreigner who ever moved into the village.  I was a little surprised to bump into a very nice guy from South Africa who recently started teaching at the local kindergarten.

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This guy is constantly in search of the "real China." That's a phrase that totally shits me. Real China? As opposed to what, the fake China where most of us live?

How about The Somewhat More Classical and Traditional China as opposed to the more westernized parts of modern China?  bjbjbjbjbj

-Foreign guys in traditional Chinese clothes. An attractive foreign chick can wear a qipao (sexy Chinese dress) and look amazing but the guys just look retarded with traditional clothes.

I guess I shouldn't show you my collection of Chinese jackets.  The nicer ones have dragon embroidered on them. ababababab

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-The folks who live here for years and still can't speak 8 words of Chinese.

Thank goodness I made it up to 25 words. ahahahahah

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The Local Dialect

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Re: Things other expats do that drive you insane
« Reply #38 on: May 08, 2012, 08:33:52 AM »
EL, it is fine if you don't want to eat at McD's because they suck, but I'd give you the sideye if you never ever set foot in any Western restaurant and criticized those who do. It is also fine if Chinese people do like their McD's and Wal Mart. The franchises wouldn't have survived here if Chinese people weren't into them. They're the ones whose opinions really count.

The thing about the "Somewhat more classical and traditional China" is that, for a lot of the locals living in our pastoral paradises, life isn't really all that great. A lot of them would much rather have "westernized, modern China" where there is at least somewhat decent medical care, where kids don't have to walk 3 hours through the mountains to get to school, where women can do something besides get married at 20 and start popping out (their legally allotted number of) babies, where guys can actually make a living doing something other than backbreaking fieldwork. And yes, there are some well to do villages and some who remain in the village by choice, but the overwhelming number of rural migrant workers in the cities can attest to the fact that many want more out of life than what the countryside can offer.

Westerners can enjoy countryside living because we come from a position of immense privilege compared to most rural Chinese. Begrudging Chinese the right to modernize their country because we want China to stay quaint and traditional, picture postcard perfect, well that's just really pretty much the height of Western arrogance. I'm not talking about you personally EL, but I do think that when we start idealizing certain aspects of traditional China, we should also realize that traditional China was not really all that nice a place for all but a very select few.

Escaped Lunatic

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Re: Things other expats do that drive you insane
« Reply #39 on: May 08, 2012, 09:14:26 AM »
EL, it is fine if you don't want to eat at McD's because they suck, but I'd give you the sideye if you never ever set foot in any Western restaurant and criticized those who do.

I only criticize Chinese parents who are making their little darlings into balls of lard by feeding them McMeals 20 times a week. ahahahahah

On the other hand, I'm not exactly an unknown person at the local Papa John's Pizza. agagagagag

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It is also fine if Chinese people do like their McD's and Wal Mart. The franchises wouldn't have survived here if Chinese people weren't into them. They're the ones whose opinions really count.

My main objection to WalMart applies to WalMarts anywhere.  It's like one of those invasive plants that slowly pushes out all the other competition and leaves a monoculture where once there had been a diverse ecosystem.  Just to make it less pleasant, Wal Marts in the US seem to have picked up ideas on how to mistreat employees from 3rd world sweatshops.

But I still shop there a lot of the time. kkkkkkkkkk

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The thing about the "Somewhat more classical and traditional China" is that, for a lot of the locals living in our pastoral paradises, life isn't really all that great. A lot of them would much rather have "westernized, modern China" where there is at least somewhat decent medical care, where kids don't have to walk 3 hours through the mountains to get to school, where women can do something besides get married at 20 and start popping out (their legally allotted number of) babies, where guys can actually make a living doing something other than backbreaking fieldwork.

I wholly agree.  I've seen some rural villages that were . . .  less than pleasant places to live.  I just hate the thought of replacing an entire way of life with a modern, westernized one instead of trying to see what can be done about correcting the serious issues and improving people's lifestyles while preserving as much of the local culture and architecture as feasible.

It's not just the quaint rural areas.  How many of those hutongs are left in Beijing?  Should we relegate those to one tiny area just for tourists?  To relegate a lifestyle that's existed for hundreds of years to museum status is a disturbing concept. kkkkkkkkkk  Sure, a 20 story apartment building is a much more efficient usage of space.  If we use efficiency as the only standard, there are a lot of cultural treasures around the world that should be bulldozed to make room for another Wal-Mart and/or apartment buildings.

Wander around the non-tourist zones of a major international city (tourist zones may be fascinating, but are somewhat artificial by their very nature). Let's say New York and London as example).  Then head to a smaller, less international city in the same country.  The "feel" of the place is probably different.  Is the smaller city more "real".  No.  Is it more like what that country would be expected to be in a traditional sense?  Probably.

It used to be easy to get an idea of what region of the US you were in by local architectural styles.  It's getting harder and harder.  It's usually pretty easy to tell what region of the world you are in from the local architecture.  Each year, that gets harder.

What if the whole world ends up being nothing but Walmarts, McD's, starbucks, and massive apartment buildings and offices?  What if all countries end up having their local cultures converge towards a single world standard?  What will be the point of traveling?
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kitano

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Re: Things other expats do that drive you insane
« Reply #40 on: May 08, 2012, 09:52:32 AM »
Personally I hate Walmart and KFC and never go into them at home or abroad. I did used to go to KFC and McDonalds when I was first in China because I wanted a sandwich etc, McDonalds breakfast is beyond reproach imo and if I still worked near a Maccy D I would get my breakfast there for sure
It isn't the principle, I just think that they are rubbish, I would prefer some baozi to a KFC sandwich in a rush and chicken from one of the Taiwan style or barbeque places for fast food. I would still get McDonalds coffee if I was being a tourist because it's 10 and it's decent coffee, not KFC because it's Nescafe

Disagree about London though, London is one of the more interesting cities in England architecturally, most of the smaller cities in England are dominated by those ready made suburbs built by massive companies....
China is a really weird one because so much of their history was destroyed in the past 200 years or so by Chinese and invaders that the 'historical sites' all seem to have been built in the past 20 years. Their relationship with history is incredibly complicated I think, Mao was really against it but now it is so celebrated but Mao is kind of in the same category as a temple or something, it's strange.
Where I live and everywhere I have visited in China they are tearing down the badly built 70s and 80s buildings and making new buildings at an incredible rate, and people will probably miss it all when it's gone, but really it kind of sucks, noone wants to live in them, they leak and fill up with roaches and fall down.....
The HuTongs is different but the same thing happens everywhere, they will become rare and only rich people will live in them, that is happening to the countryside where I'm from, the rural people and a lot of the places in Newcastle as well are full of students and young professionals and don't have character cos noone invests in the place

what is to be done?

Fozzwaldus

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Re: Things other expats do that drive you insane
« Reply #41 on: May 08, 2012, 09:55:50 AM »
I'm sorry, but let's get this thread back on to things that EL does that drive us insane.  ahahahahah
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The Local Dialect

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Re: Things other expats do that drive you insane
« Reply #42 on: May 08, 2012, 03:00:24 PM »
EL, I agree with most of your last post actually. That's why we have things like ecotourism, free trade products, and UNESCO. I have friends who have pretty much made it their mission in life to promote local arts and culture, and my own husband has a side venture selling minority handcrafts from his part of the country. I love the old courtyard houses myself, and I love visiting places that are less modernized. When I moved to Kunming it was about 5 years after they'd totally destroyed the entire old city and remade it into the concrete mess that it is now and most people I know think it is a pity that they didn't even leave a tiny bit of it up, but then, how can you do that and at the same time preserve "authenticity?" If no one wants to live in the creaky old wooden (fire hazard) homes, and prefers a more modern, convenient, comfortable house, then the only real option you have is creating subsidized Old Towns like Dali or Lijiang, and people bitch about those being too touristy. It is very hard to have it both ways, but I do support programs that try.

I just think that where it gets a little bit dodgy is when foreigners who have no vested interest in the country come in and start telling the locals they're Doing It Wrong because they're more interested in having a decent standard of living than they are in preserving their cultural heritage. Probably most of us do not fall into that category, but a whole lot of backpackers who moan about the real China and such definitely do.

I also think Kitano makes a good point about China's relationship with history and preservation. These are complicated issues here.

zero

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Re: Things other expats do that drive you insane
« Reply #43 on: May 08, 2012, 04:49:07 PM »
There's so much money in the property development. You stand to make millions from a deal, and some foreign eco-hippies are complaining because you're going to bulldoze a dilapidated old hutong? "Authenticity" loses every time unless the government gets serious about protecting this stuff. Frankly, I don't see it happening. There isn't the public interest.

Escaped Lunatic

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Re: Things other expats do that drive you insane
« Reply #44 on: May 09, 2012, 01:40:01 AM »
I'm sorry, but let's get this thread back on to things that EL does that drive us insane.  ahahahahah

Shall I dress up in my Chinese clothes and start trying to sound "More Chinese than thou"? ahahahahah

Actually, I kind of think the whole culture and architecture thing deserves a thread somewhere outside the BS wrestling pit.  If someone wants to start one, I'll be happy to participate.
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