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Thu Feb 14, 2013, 01:21 PM


i think i will start something in here called: foreigner living in the prc #1

this is my first post here. my old name used to be suji to seoul, but i changed it and came up with this one because nanjing 【南京】 is where i live and seoul is where i will more than likely take my honeymoon.

first, i will mention that these postings will not be all about living in china. before i came here, i lived in suji, in yongin, rocking out on the ROK (that's South Korea [韩国] for thems who have never been there). i have also gone into the SAR of Hong Kong (香港 and enjoyed an amazing couple of vacations in Japan and PI (philippines).

Chinese New Year has come and gone again. . .and it was rather subdued in the rural farming community of Lizhuang【里庄】 outside the boring city of danyang 【丹阳】in the Zhenjiang【镇江】 prefecture. When lived up north in hebei 【河北】 in the city of shijiazhuang 【石家庄】, the first night of Spring Festival was like someone attacking the country. on average, the children played with their fireworks fo about 90 minutes, starting less than five seconds after midnight. here in lizhuang. . .it was over in less than 10 minutes. talk about a let down.

The fun about being a foreigner (lao wai老外) in a small little podunk, BFE Chinese town is you are instantly the center of attention. add to the fact that i walk around with a black ushenka with the republic star on it (which they call a Lei Feng hat 雷锋帽子 and a green PLA winter overcoat makes most of them crane their heads and stare. all I think is someone in a gomer pyle accent saying, in mandarin, "gawlee maw. . .then critters aren't jist on the tee-vee."

anyway, part of coming here is because this is my fiancee's home pimple, i mean town. . .and when i say pimple, i mean just that. it's 10 PM here. guess what's open? nothing. zilcho. 没有. just a completely dead town. there is no one on the one road, which is barely wide enough for a bicycle and paved in concrete shit.

one thing i can tell about the people here is they are really people of routine, more so than their city counterparts. here is the daily routine, day in and day out.

0600: wake up
0630: have breakfast, wash your face with hot water (not soap), brush your teeth and take the hooker's bath (armpits, asshole, crotch, teeth and feet). can't forget the feet.
0700: head out to work, which in this town means the factory.
1130: go home for lunch
1200: eat lunch, enjoy a 1.5 hour baijiu 【白酒】 lunch break, get half smashed, then go take your nap.
1330: back to work, a little tipsy and hungover
1730: clock out. . .time to go home
1800: dinner time.
1900: time for a walk outside. now you have to navigate through the dog shit, bicycle, cars that don't view pedestrians as part of traffic, horns that never stop being honked, spitting, snot rockets, the occasional Chinese man (and I mean man) that smells like he hasn't taken a bath since the Great Leap Forward and the cigarettes and smoking EVERYWHERE!!!!
2000: Time to go back into the cave (more on that in a second) and watch TV. . .which in China is 70 channels of the exact same shit:
- news, which really isn't news, but what the hell?
- American Idol style shows (just as awful, only with glass shattering beijing opera crap)
- Gong Fu shows or romances during the Qing Dynasty (I want someone to teach me how to fly, since they all (yes all!!!) believed that craptacular 2012 movie was real.
- Family soap operas where the women spend an hour screaming like banshees, the men act weak and helpless and it's nothing but TALKING. no action, no plot movie. . .just exposition and dialogue, with wooden direction and amateurish production qualities. Ed Wood would be offended.
- Hate the Japanese shows set during WW2
- Mindless cartoons that would drain the intelligence from a rock. I don't know what it's called the most popular involves black wolves and white sheep.
2100: Time to take our shower
2130: Time to crawl into bed
2200: Snoring!

This is the daily routine. For men. Women's routine here, included everything except working. when they are not preparing the meals, which apparently takes eight years to do. . .they sit around gossiping and spreading rumors or just being judgmental about everyone that isn't them.

now, I mentioned something about a cave. apparently, winter means "keep all the windows and doors open, walk around in jackets and coats and don't turn on the heat because that costs money." Since there is no heat source and everything is concrete and brick, most everyone's home is ice cold. my feet have not been warm since i left nanjing. I have told my fiancee "when the house is as warm as it is in your bed, i will get up."

A few more observations:

a) apparently the phrases "thank you, but i don't smoke" and "thank you, but I don't drink" don't exist here. I have been offered cigarettes and baijiu everyday. when i say thank you, but no thank you. . .the men act as though i just murdered their mothers. i try to explain i do not like baijiu and i have asthma. . .but no one seems to understand that.
b) green tea goes great with. . .absolutely nothing. and if you want green tea the way they do it here, go outside and cut your lawn. then take a handful of grass clipping and throw them into piping hot water. there is your green. . .or as i call it, grass tea.
c) if you do not eat yourself into your stomach exploding, they will be offended and tell you to eat more. if your stomach does explode, they will tell you that you shouldn't eat so much. aiya 【哎呀】
d) how many farmers does it take to light one thing of fireworks? here in Lizhuang, the answer is seven. one to show me how to use the lighter, one to show me how to light the wick, one to tell me to be careful, one to tell me my chinese is good, one to tell me i should stand far away or else the heat will burn me, one to tell me i must really like living in china and the last to put the next thing of fireworks close to a parked car, almost ensuring the car will be lit on fire. Why does all of this happen? because they are all half smashed. Fireworks and alcohol. . .it's no wonder more people don't die.
e) if I hear Gangnam style one more time, I'm going to lose my mind. I lived in Korea. I used to go to Gangnam all the time to shop for overpriced crap. Gangnam is five roads. It has all the style of an oil slick. Now, Itaewon style is fun. So is Hongdae. Gangnam blows.
f) finally, i don't think i can stomach small town life in China. . .and this is coming from someone that lived in a small farming community of 125 people for 14 years of his childhood.

I am heading back to nanjing tomorrow. then preparing my move to suzhou to start my geography/history teaching position at an experimental school there.

My next piece will be on education here in China. I am told the students are great students and eager to learn. My assumption is they are just as lazy and shiftless as the rest I've taught, due to collectivized instruction, social promotion, family influence and teaching to that stupid Gaokao 【高考】 they have to take in Sr. 3. The only difference is my students are all 富二代 (fu er dai), meaning new money, second generation (or kids whose parents made it wealthy over the past 10 - 15 years).

On that, 新年快乐。 or 快乐情人节, since I wrote this on Valentine's Day.

PS: It's not all negativity. I just like writing about shit that makes me laugh. If you want more more example, here you go:

In the summer, if I set the AC to 25 degrees in my apartment, people complain they are cold and "chinese people don't like being cold" (good old groupthink). So I sweat to death so they can remain whatever they are to be comfortable.

Enter winter time. . .no heat, doors and windows open, walking around dressed like they are going to dog sled. It has been below 0 here for over a week. Not a word about being cold. . .I put on the heat and people instantly complain they are hot and "chinese people don't like being hot." I have even had students open the windows of my classroom because they are "too hot." But removing their coats and jackets. . .nah, doesn't enter into the mind. It's better to keep the windows open and wear winter coats indoors.

However, get into the car, and they put the heat on so high it feels like i'm on the sun. and in the summer, they keep the windows rolled up and refuse to put on the a/c. . .because "chinese people don't like being cold."

Please explain the logic. Oh, and I've been here since 2008.

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Reply i think i will start something in here called: foreigner living in the prc #1 (Original post)
Nanjing to Seoul Feb 2013 OP
mainer Feb 2013 #1
davidpdx Feb 2013 #2
Nanjing to Seoul Feb 2013 #3

Response to Nanjing to Seoul (Original post)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 02:57 PM

1. Keep writing. This is fun.

I'm sharing this with family members who've lived in China!

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Response to Nanjing to Seoul (Original post)

Fri Feb 22, 2013, 09:39 AM

2. I can relate to some of your observations having lived in both China and Korea

The first one I was going to mention is the heat. When I was living in China I froze my ass off during the winter. Here in Korea the floor heat is sooooooo nice!

In terms of the drinking culture it is pretty much the same here. If people are drinking you are expected to as well.

The whole Gangnam Style drives me nuts as well. My wife said the guy (whatever his name is) skipped out on his mandatory military service (I don't know how, it's just what she told me) so many Koreans don't like him.

One of the things that drove me nuts in China was the firecrackers all the time. I'm really sensitive to noise so it became annoying.

I guess depending where you are (you said you are out in BFE so maybe it's not bad there) the pollution in China can be pretty bad. I was in Wuxi and we had some days where it was pretty think.

The soap operas in Korea drive me nuts. My wife watches them and I just tune them out.

The same with the air conditioner, my wife complains when I have it the "freeze your ass" setting. Of course she doesn't sweat. On being too hot, I don't think that's the case here. When I'm on the subway they always have the heat cranked up and no one seems to mind. Yet I'm sweating and end up taking off my coat.

How about smoking and spitting, do they do that in China too? That's one thing I just find particularly nasty here in Korea.

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Response to davidpdx (Reply #2)

Fri Feb 22, 2013, 11:36 AM

3. Korea was fun too. I lived in Suwon


Here in China, I was in Hebei for three years. Yangzhou/Nanjing for two and now I'm in Suzhou, closer to Kunshan.

They blow up firecrackers for every special occasion here too. birth, marriage, moving into a new home, first pubic hair or just because it's tuesday.

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