The Good Things About China?

As you know I often share the hardships I go through while living in China.  Several people have asked me why do you stay there? Why don’t you just move back to the states it would be much easier for you.

China (Photo credit: andy castro)

First of all, I like China for the most part.  I have been in my small city for so long now that they know who I am.  So, when I walk down the street the little shop owners shout out “Ni Hao”, (How are you?), “Chifan le ma?” (Did you eat?)  I even have a little woman who owns a clothing shop that tries to order big sizes for me and then comes to the school to get me so I can be the first to buy it.  (her tastes are questionable, but she tries).   I have taxi and rickshaw drivers that know me so well, that they will stop when they see me walking to see if I need a ride home and know my address, without me waving them down.   I can go to just about any restaurant in the city and they know who I am and give me a discount.

I am always seeing my old students or their relatives and they are always genuinely happy to see me.   I like my small city of about 1 million people.   I gives me a hometown feel but still has some things to offer like a big city. Also, one quick car trip and I am in Shanghai.   Since, I am the only Black American in town every time one of my new teachers, or teachers from other schools go out people ask them if they know me.  I am the resident American that is in the know.

Some people know me so well they have things put aside waiting for me to come by.  I wanted a pair of black clogs very badly and I searched everywhere for them. I always ran into the problem with size.  I am a shoe size 8, so you would think that it would be easy to find. However, the average size in China is a size 5.   I had been looking for weeks asking many of my store owner friends to no avail.   When one day I was walking to dinner with one of the teachers, and a woman who had a shoe shop that already tried before can running out of the shop door waving a pair of black clogs…. shouting “Mei niu, Mei niu ni lai zheli” (Beautiful girl, Beautiful girl you come here).   I was so shocked. (by the way they call every young woman who is unmarried “beautiful girl”),   She had clutched in her hand a black clog waving it wildly.   I could not help but laugh and so did most the other people walking down the street.

Sometimes you can just walk down the street and see the craziest things like a camel tied in front of a shop, a little man carrying 20 times his weight on his back, or even a rickshaw guy pulling a car that has obviously stalled somewhere.   Only in China will you see everyday people cleaning their clothes on rocks in the river then get into their BMW and drive away.  It is like a mixture of the pioneer days, the 50′ and now all rolled into one place.  Only in China will you see a monk sitting at the bus station playing Angry Birds on his Iphone. (he was getting into it too)

So, No I do not hate China and do not mind living here at all,  for most of the time.  However, there are days when you just want to turn off the world.  It happened when I lived in the states and I am sure it would happen if I lived in another country.

China for the most part is pretty safe:  No drive bys, (unless they want to throw knives out the windows); there are drugs and pickpockets everywhere but you don’t hear much about them where I am;  The kids are not running around the neighbor hoods causing trouble (because they are usually studying); and in this city the town usually shuts down around 11 pm (unless you catch the after bar or after ktv crowd getting something to eat at a road side shop).  

As for the government, somethings are less convenient and the paperwork is tremendous just to do a simple thing.  However, I am not trying to run for office, stand up for anyone’s rights or anything so it doesn’t really affect me unless, other foreigners in the bigger cities do something stupid.

The China I live in reminds me of the small city I grew up in the Midwest but with tons more people.  Everyone knows your name and your business. (but that is another blog)

So fear not my rants about China, people; everyone gets aggravated now and again.  But who could not love a country that celebrates every event with food, red envelopes filled with money and fireworks!!!  Huh?


until next time….


9 thoughts on “The Good Things About China?

  1. Thanks for the balance here. I’ve been having a couple of “China days” myself recently but there are so many good days that I just have to get through this set.

  2. When I read the description of your blog I just had to check it out. I imagine that the two of you have a perfect blend of insider/ outsider perspectives, which has evidently resulted in a better-rounded voice than most. I got sick of other expats complaining about China, as though they’d forgotten that they came there by choice. To me it was an insult to those hundreds of millions of people for whom leaving was not an option. Anyway, thanks for tipping the balance back in favour of the positives!

  3. sistrunkqueen

    I like this post because it reminds me of my year in Kunshan,China. I am returning to China soon to work in Tongling in Anhui. Thanks for the advice you gave a few months ago. I plan to work in China for two years and maybe study Chinese too.

  4. Eve

    Nice thoughts I say when the good out weights the bad stay, and it sounds like it does, and your right we get tired of the same ole thing no matter where we live, but that doesn’t mean its not home

  5. Jo: The 40-day countdown has started, and I find myself getting right evil as the return to the US approaches. I think it’s my way to gird my loins against velvet-gloved — and overt — racism that shapes day-to-day life there. Even as an academic. China has challenging issues: political, environmental, economic, ethnic, and so on. Slow progress is being made. Perhaps in China I’m “exotic” and experience a peculiar kind of freedom — but I’ll take exoticism any day over contempt, pity, and fear that’s gratuitously assigned to American blacks, especially men. Yet, we survive, resist, and endure. It’s the resisting that takes its toll, affects the spirit. But it’s fundamentally necessary to affirm one’s humanity and to protect one’s self-respect and dignity. As Baldwin says, “I also want to live.” On another note: two sistahs are visiting China this month. I’ve hipped them to you blog.

    1. @Harry .. thanks for everything. The one good thing about China is that you can always go back. Maybe you can make another visit one day and stay in a different part of China to experience different things. I know what you mean you dont really have to deal with the stereotypes here because they dont know what they are exactly. So you do have more sort of freedom I can understand that. You have a safe trip back to the states and please stay in contact.

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