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Tag Archives: laowai


BEIJING (IG News) — Three foreign women were found frozen solid today outside a down jacket store in the Chaoyang district of Beijing.”Beijing is very cold and dry this time of year,” commented Hěn Lěng, chief of the frozen foreigner registration section of the public security bureau, “it is important to dress properly, carry your passport and work permit at all times, and smile warmly to ward off the cold.”

“Wow, what kind of whitening products do they use?” exclaimed local shopkeeper Bù Piàoliang, “I wish I could achieve an unattainable standard of beauty imposed upon Chinese women by culturally imperialistic advertising!”

“I don’t know but I’ve been told foreign frozen women’s toes are mighty cold,” commented US military attache Case Samsonite, “Hup-two-three-four, hep-two-three-four.”

“China invented frozen women during the Qing Dynasty,” noted Jīntiān Dàfēng, president of the Patriotic Frozen Women Federation of China, “This is yet another example of the rest of the world catching up to China.”

# # #

In other news, Barack Obama and Hu Jintao agreed today to exchange recipes for Kung Pao Chicken.

  1. You can’t believe you’re supposed to put used toilet paper in that tiny trash bin in the stall.
  2. You freak out when a nicely dressed young woman snorts mightily and hawks a lugie the size of a baseball into the street, raising clouds of dust.
  3. You’re terrified to cross the street – even with the green light and a crowd of people.
  4. You don’t know about VPN and your Facebook friends think you’ve died in China.
  5. You have “This is China” moments five times a day.
  6. You buy a “jīn” of everything.
  7. You believe the air pollution ratings on the news.
  8. You read the People’s Daily daily.
  9. You buy movies from the iTunes store, not at the local DVD shop.
  10. You think CCTV 9 is just China’s version of CNN.
  11. You’re stuck in chapter 1 of book 1 of Practical Chinese Conversation.
  12. You say “xiè xie” to everyone for everything.
  13. You buy Tylenol™ Cold, not the local equivalent at half the price.
  14. You feel relieved when you see another foreign face.
  15. You challenge the logic of “èr” vs. “liǎng” in counting things.
  16. You pay for software.
  17. You need tissues to blow your nose.
  18. You let old ladies cut in front of you in a queue.
  19. You think you’re dying when you cough up black stuff in the morning.
  20. You attend “networking” events hoping to make useful connections.
  21. You wonder what’s in those “sex shops” you see all over the city.
  22. You think people actually sing in KTV lounges.
  23. You are dismayed when the non-smoking section is right next to the smoking section.
  24. You think Chinese women naturally have perfect complexions.
  25. You have yet to identify what that funny smell in the air is.
  26. You can’t believe it takes five people to put their seals on 15 pieces of paper to do any transaction at the bank.
  27. You still think eating Peking Duck is a special treat.
  28. You think the suit you bought at the Silk Market will last a lifetime.
  29. You don’t have a wallet bursting at the seams with point cards.
  30. You email folks back home with newly learned Chinese words in pinyin with tones indicated by numbers – “ni3hao3” – and they think you’ve lost it.
  31. You can write things like “Beijing is a vibrant city, bustling with energy, and new adventures to be found around every corner” without bursting into laughter.
  32. You don’t know who Kaiser Kuo is.
  33. You don’t have at least three “shānzhài” clone products.
  34. You can’t say “Běijīng” with the correct tones.
  35. You can’t say “Sanlitun” like a pirate.
  36. You think people will laugh at your jokes about Beijingers sounding like pirates.
  37. You actually carry your passport and work permit with you at all times.
  38. You “face” all the bills in your wallet.
  39. You’re not sure why the bank runs 100 RMB notes through the bill validator before they give you the money.
  40. You know Jenny Lou’s is expensive but you shop there because they sort of speak English.
  41. You think you might find true love on a Saturday night in Sanlitun.
  42. You can’t say your cellphone number in Chinese.
  43. You have your bags scanned at subway security.
  44. You desperately need your hair styled but you’ve heard one too many horror stories about hair salons where staff doesn’t speak English. (females)
  45. Your hair is always cut a bit too short because you’ve discovered those stories about barber shops are true. (males)
  46. Your Chinese name doesn’t mean “hairy monkey with hemorrhoids.”
  47. You believe it when Chinese people compliment you on your Chinese.
  48. You think “gee, that’s cheaper than back home” means it’s actually cheap.
  49. You lack the courage to try whatever it is locals are eating for breakfast near the subway station.
  50. You think pinyin was designed specifically to drive foreigners crazy.
  51. You haven’t found a favorite “jiǎozi” place yet.
  52. You have only one mobile phone number.
  53. You desperately hope someone will compliment your skill with chopsticks.
  54. You’ve bought 1000-year-old eggs, hard-boiled salty eggs, and then finally fresh eggs.
  55. You’re shocked to discover that brand names like “Starbucks” in Chinese sound nothing like they do in English.
  56. You don’t know you’re supposed to have the vegetables weighed and price-tagged before you pay at the register.
  57. You believe you’ll finish reading The Analects of Confucius.
  58. You are fascinated by the old guy on a bike slowly pedaling his bird somewhere.
  59. You self-censor your emails … just in case.

“The instant noodles for an instant afro!”*

Now that’s a brand promise!

Think of the possibilities of Chinese versions of ethnic brands!

Jheri-Curl potato chips!

Afro-Sheen soy sauce!

And, of course, J-Lo Steamed Buns!


* P.S. For you cunning linguists out there, yes, the copy actually says, “NEW! straight noodles” which I suppose is funnier than “gay noodles” but that’s another post.

On my first visit to China some 15 years ago, a colleague taught me a lesson I’ve remembered to this day.

In China, you must order a “cold” beer otherwise, you’ll get a beer that’s been sitting around outside, which in the winter means you might get a cold one, but not in summer!

Thus, you must order:

bīng píjiǔ
cold beer

That phrase got me a cold beer most of the time, “cold” being relative of course (repeat after me, “this is China!”).

Today, my Chinese tutor, Lǐ lǎoshī (teacher Li), taught me the “survival Chinese” version of that handy-dandy expression.

bù bīng bù gěi qién!
“no cold, no give money!”

Not only does Lǐ lǎoshī have a sense of humor, she really understands what I mean by “survival” Chinese!

As Confucius said, “Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance. And don’t forget the cold beer, dude.”

In other news, rescued Chilean miners say they passed the time by playing #minecraft but couldn’t get past the lava.

Being hopelessly illiterate in a language has never been so much fun as it is in Beijing.

Armed with a digital Chinese-English dictionary on my trusty iPad, I’ll take a guess at these brand names. The “Good Friends (are) Interesting” brand of “thick side” potato chips comes in two fabulous flavors.

On the left, “Lots of Juice Beef Extract Flavor” … which is obviously superior to just plain “juicy beef” favor.

And on the right, “Pure Aroma Original Flavor” … gee, potato-flavored potato chips!

My new Chinese instructor, Lî laoshi (teacher Li), will be surely be amused when I ask her about potato chip brands!


Sent from my iPad

Chinese Ketchup: Nî håo!
Mexican Salsa: ¡Buenos dias!

Sent from my iPad

It’s Friday night, following my first full week of work in Beijing, and a full week of shopping and getting the apartment squared away for @doramimy.

A quiet dinner at home, followed by … tweeting and blogging! Not bad for a middle-aged couple.

Of course, it helps when an old friend like Jameson’s Irish Whiskey has got your back.

Good preparation for my first two-hour Chinese lesson tomorrow morning!


Sent from my iPad

Steak and chips, pommes frites, meat and potatoes all have their origin in the Yunnan province of China.

Okay, I’m making that up. But the Middle 8th restaurant in the Sanlitun area of Beijing does a remarkable job of serving up “steak and chips” a la Yunnan style in a contemporary setting. It’s a cozy, unpretentious place that serves great food at very reasonable prices.

Very buttery tasting chips, a sweetish tomato-based sauce for the steak, altogether a lovely meal with an old friend and former colleague who has convinced me that Beijing, not Shanghai, is the the cutting-edge of creativity in China today.

We had five dishes, all excellent, but way too much food for about US$12 per person. Remarkable by Tokyo or L.A. standards.

Beijing today seems to be filled with creativity in not only presentation of food but also the fusion of old and new styles.


Sent from my iPad

1. You’re not Chinese.
2. You can’t speak Chinese.
3. You can’t read Chinese.
4. You can’t write Chinese.
5. You’re not Chinese.

Something tells me I’m a laowai*.

Laowai = Gaijin = Foreigner
老外 = 外人 = 外国人


Sent from my iPad