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What are your China moments?

Popularity 11Viewed 9110 times 2015-7-10 13:56 |System category:News| experience, elements, friend, cities, China


A friend once told me “to experience the real China; you must visit rural China, meet and mingle with the rural folks, dine and enjoy the fresh vegetables, the clean air and environment devoid of all the toxic elements polluting China’s bustling urban cities”. But mind you he said, “it is in the countryside that you will experience most of your China moments. “This is partly due to the naivety of the rural folks” he lamented.


If you’re already in China, then you might have experienced some of these moments, if you’re a newbie, then it won’t be long before you experience some of these exclusive China moments. And if you are planning on coming to the Middle Kingdom anytime soon, then don’t be surprised if some naïve Chinese friends or guests slams some outrageous questions at you drowning you into some unforgettable moments (experiences). Hilarious if you ask me.


For some foreigners some of these moments might sound somewhat ridiculous but I assure you, from my experience and that of others, it is fairly normal. It isn’t because your Chinese friends or hosts are overtly ignorant but it is because some have never thought of the world as a global village where some simple things are simply common everywhere.


There are those questions, sometimes from folks whom you might expect to know better. I would not omit the fact that you might even experience some of these eye-opening moments in some big cities even though the probability is very low there, because hardly would you have someone from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, or Nanjing ask you if there is fish in your home country. Yes “fish”, it might sound absurd but some of these moments as they can be best described can leave you speechless, because you never see them coming.


That moment when you’re asked if you came to China by plane or what.

That’s a credible question if you’re a Russian and not far from the regions bordering China. As ridiculous as this question might seem they do pop up sometimes and then you’re asked the cost of the flight and how many hours the journey took and other questions of personal interest you might not want to divulge in. But hey, this is China, better get along and go with the flow, take no offence, answer with a smile. 


That moment when you’re asked if there is a certain kind of food or staple in your home country.

Generally this might be a legitimate question, because there are some delicacies back home that you might not find here in China and vice versa- but not when you’re asked if you eat rice in your country or if there are potatoes or cabbages in your home country. These staple, most of us are aware are universal with slight distinct features. Often you might think the one asking the question is either poking fun at you or just being sarcastic but trust me, most of the time, these are valid enquiries so take no offence, answer with a smile.


That moment when you’re offered a cigarette over and over again.

‘Chow yen’ in Chinese literally means ‘smoke a cigarette; hypothetically it means have a cigarette.  In Chinese society, offering cigarettes to friends who smoke is regarded as a warm and friendly gesture.  For most foreign men this is all too common. It happens all the time. You’re offered cigarettes till you’re bored to death. One might be a smoker but not always in the mood to smoke and when one isn’t a smoker, these sorts of moments tends to be very frustrating because you will be offered cigarettes even after several refusals and reminders that you don’t smoke. Take no offence, refuse with a smile. To them it is a sign of your acceptance as a friend, great for guanxi (relations).



One should however note that smoking the peace pipe shouldn’t always be forced down your throat and in that same vain you should at each attempt, politely decline with a smile if you don’t want to smoke or you simply don’t smoke. Some people after several declines turn to accept the cigarette with the intention to discard it later, but alas, immediately you accept the cigarette it is followed by an offer to light it for you and that’s where you’re left to decide your next move. My advice if you are not a smoker is to refuse politely, keep declining because accepting a cigarette with the intention to smoke later or discard it, to your friends or guest is unfriendly, so better not accept it, refuse with a smile.


That moment when you are pushed to demand your salary.

I wanted to leave this out, but it seems to be a pretty common moment some foreigners encounter here in China. A majority of foreigners try as much as possible to avoids these moments simply because of the lose face factor. It’s a distasteful moment because both the employee and employer lose face, even part-timers. One logical reason for the escalation of this kind of moment is because most foreigners find it hard getting used to the pay structure in China where most companies or employers pay staff two weeks into the next month and so when payday is extended to a few more days some foreigner staff find it hard keeping their cool. Chill guys, payday is Mayday.



That moment when you turn into a celebrity overnight. This is all too familiar for expats who have been here a long time. It’s as if you have paparazzi on your tail. Others just bask in the moments of fame when just about anyone, strangers request to take photos with them. This also goes to show how heartwarming and loving most Chinese people are. It is worth repeating here that some newcomers would obviously experience some bad moments in China, it is same in every society around the globe, however, after a long stay on the mainland you will undoubtedly discover that most Chinese people are some of the most loving people to walk the surface of our planet.



(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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