"I was waiting to use an ATM. I was standing about five feet behind the person using it like anybody from American would.
Another person walks up and stands directly behind the guy using it. Then another. Then another. Then another. Nuts-to-butts, no space between them.
I am now sixth in line for the ATM."
"I was traveling with a group in China right before the Beijing Olympics. I'm a six-foot-tall black dude, and according to our tour guide, black people are incredibly rare to see in China.
So on the day that we were going to see The Great Wall, I just happened to be wearing a football jersey I brought with me. Apparently being relatively tall, black, and wearing sports apparel is enough for some Chinese people to think that you are a professional athlete.
We get to The Great Wall and start walking around (it's much steeper than you would think and some parts are difficult to walk) when I'm quickly swarmed by tons of Chinese people who want to take a picture with me. I'm normally reserved and quite the introvert, but as the crowd around me started to grow, I just decided to go with it.
So I smiled, took pictures and signed autographs to my heart's content. That is until I was asked to leave because the group around me was getting so large it was blocking the entire span of the wall and people couldn't get past.
A similar thing happened a few weeks later when I was flying into Shanghai and was walking through the airport wearing sunglasses and a backpack and a few people thought I was Kanye West."
"I used to travel to China for business four times a year for several years.
I got into a taxi to go from bus station in Zigong to my hotel. Right after picking us up, the taxi driver stops and lets in a policeman in the front seat. They proceed to discuss how much it would cost to get the driver's friend out of police detention. A policeman calls his supervisor at the police station to negotiate the bribe amount while getting a finder's fee himself for facilitating the transaction. I wasn't surprised by the corruption but rather by how open it was.
Since I am ethnically Chinese, they probably thought I was a local and could be ignored."
"I used to live in China, so I could write a volume of books on this subject.
My Chinese friend's 4-year-old brother used to smoke like mad. But that's still not my favorite story.
I was traveling during a national holiday once (big mistake) and decided to take a 16-hour train. The trains are always packed but this was just ridiculous. We were completely crammed in like a pile of neat bricks. Being a white guy with long hair and a beard I clearly stuck out, even in this crammed sardine can. An extremely polite Chinese teenager, which is not uncommon at all for foreigners, begged me to take his seat. It was a 16-hour ride and seats were basically treated like rare pearls. I refused until his iron willpower defeated my own. As soon as I sat the entire crowd of people in my vicinity turned and looked down at me. For hours. They were mesmerized by my alien attributes.
They talked openly in Chinese about how strange I was, probably guessing a creature like me couldn't possibly understand their human language. I felt like an exhibit in a zoo. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, a hand reaches out of the crowd holding a banana. I was actually famished, and realizing the food cart would never make it through the throng, I thankfully took the fruit. As soon as I peeled it and took a bite, I heard a wave of murmurs and gasps. I looked up from my delicious banana smiling and noticed everyone else was smiling back at me. I only caught one word that was repeated several times through several separate conversations. I kept hearing 'hou zi,' which loosely translates to monkey."
"I traveled to China last year with my partner, who was teaching in Beijing. We decided we wanted to ride camels in the Gobi desert because of reasons. Getting to Mongolia was too expensive and a hassle for our time schedule, so we ended up taking an overnight train to Zhongwei, which is just up against the desert. We got recommended one guy, Billy, for this camel excursion. So we hire Billy, he drives us out to this random place and a local farmer walks up with three camels for our overnight trek into the desert. Billy hands the farmer some cash, we get on the camels and go with this guy who speaks no English and probably speaks a dialect of Mandarin.
Off we go. It's hot. It's full of dunes. It's cool as the dickens.
Billy has warned us that dinner will be simple, backcountry fair. No problem, we backpack a lot, we can dig it.
We stop for camp and the guy builds a fire and puts white rice in a pan. We watch, waiting for the salt, the pepper, the veggies, the something. But nope. We got served plain, white rice for dinner. And some apples that tasted like soap. And this weird pickled thing that tasted like who knows what. We're not picky eaters. We are adventurous eaters. But this was the worst. We also got these weirdly processed meat sticks that looked, smelled, and I guess tasted like dog food. Billy had given us some cold ones, though, and that probably had more nutritional value than the white rice. so we drank that.
The next day, we had ramen for breakfast and trekked back to the town. I swear Billy was keeping his overhead at zero. He was profiting off of being a Chinese guy who spoke English. I think he paid the farmer a pittance of the $300 we paid him. We tipped the farmer generously before Billy picked us up. And Billy probably paid next to nothing for the rice.
So that's the story of how we got ripped off by Billy in China.
But on that same trip, when we were hanging out in Zhongwei one evening, as the only westerners and we were sitting having dinner. A group of women out for a girl's night paid for our dinner and insisted on taking us to karaoke. They spoke no English and got a young kid who spoke English to ask us. We played Chinese drinking games, sang in English while they sang in Mandarin, and had the best time."
"I have lived in China for 13 years. My favorite story would have to be when we had to give up our home to a Chinese crime lord.
We were renting a home in Shanghai. It was worth about $15 million dollars, but the rent wasn't too bad. Anyways our landlady was this great and ambitious woman who had built herself up as a successful landowner in China. Unfortunately, as per Chinese tradition, she had to be married and her husband was an absolute deadbeat. He spent all his time gambling. He eventually racked up a debt of over $1 million and borrowed money from the Chinese mob to pay it off. A smart move on the mob's part because they were probably the ones running the gambling in the first place, and knew this guy owned a lot of property through his wife.
One day, out of the blue, our landlord tells us that we have 24 hours to move. The mob had shown up demanding their money and when she didn't have it, agreed to take the house instead. We talked to the mob guys and explained that we didn't have anything to do with this and asked if we could have more time. They were nice about it and understood, and after calling what must have been their home base, they agreed to give us four days.
The next day, the mob boss showed up to look around our house to see what he had acquired. He was a tall but average looking Chinese man in his late-40s to mid-50s wearing a long brown leather coat. He had four shorter but far more muscular armed bodyguards who were dressed entirely in black. He was friendly and shook all our hands apologizing for inconveniencing us. He was the only one that spoke. His bodyguards just watched us all very carefully. It was surreal. He looked normal but definitely had an intimidating aura about him. He liked the house, thanked us in nearly perfect English for giving him a tour and our hospitality, and left. Three days later we had moved out.
We kept in touch with our landlady, but her husband disappeared. It was implied that he had gone into hiding but had been caught and killed.
"I traveled to China about a decade ago, sometime not long before the Olympics, and remember a scene standing in line at the Beijing train station. I remember people on big microphones telling everyone to remain calm, stand in line, and be civil.
I was waiting for a ticket purchase in a ridiculously long line at the ticket booth. In front of me, a younger woman tried to sidle her way and cut in line in front of an older woman. The old woman started getting angry at the cutter. They started screaming at each other, and out of nowhere the old woman dropped her shopping bags and went into a melee fury on the line cutter. I'll never forget her viciously attacking this lady in a split second. When the crowd decided to intervene, the young woman came out of the pile torn to shreds and bleeding all over the place.
The old woman just picked up her bags and got back in line."
"I once had a friend who traveled to China with her family. She told me a story where they were at a cafe one afternoon and were watching the cars on the street nearby. There was a driver of a car who rear-ended a guy on a bicycle and knocked him off. There was a big clamoring around the scene until a crowd of people took ahold of the car driver and the bicycle driver jumped into the car and drove over the foot of the car driver as the crowd held him into place. The bike driver (who just drove over the one guy's foot) got out of the car, thanked the crowd and pushed his bike away. The car driver (who just got his foot ran over) limped back to the car and drove away."
"I worked it is an IT manager for a college in Nanjing. My boss got his job because he was an excellent table tennis player. He knew nothing about computers but acted like he did to save face. He also made the same amount per month as me, but within a month was driving a new BMW, and was wearing a Rolex. Lots of kickbacks and corruption there."
"We visited the Forbidden City on a business trip. My colleague is a petite blonde woman and I'm a six-foot-tall, 220-lb white guy. We quickly noticed that a lot of people were taking awkward selfies. It became obvious they were trying to politely take pictures of us.
Once we acknowledged it and told them it was okay, it was like a dam had burst. We were at one of their biggest cultural attractions and getting pics with us was suddenly a priority for dozens of people.
The oddest bit for me was when they started to move in close to my face with their phones. It turns out they wanted pictures of my blue eyes.
The counter effect was when we were on The Great Wall. A group of Chinese soldiers was there on a tour or something. They looked like young kids from farming villages in poorly fitting military uniforms on their first pass.
They were terrified of being too close to me. Any place I would walk the whole herd of 25 would orbit away from me to keep a 50-foot distance. My guide for the day walked over and asked them about it. It turns out they had been warned to not fraternize with any foreigners during their visit."
"I have a couple of stories from my time as an English teacher.
First was the teenage girl whose family was absurdly wealthy to the point that this girl had never done a single thing for herself. She got kicked out of her host family's house after a few incidents like trying to cook raw chicken in the toaster. The worst thing though was her lack of awareness about feminine hygiene. My favorite part is that this girl with the education level of a 10-year-old was under the impression she'd return home in two years as a medical doctor.
The other story I remember was a man in his 30s who had that psychological tick where you compulsively pull your hair out. He had the most bizarre bald pattern because he couldn't stop himself from plucking his own hairs. The school, being worried about this, asked him if he'd been to a doctor. He said that he had in China, and the doctor in China told him that he was bald because he was feeling guilty about something and that caused his hair to stay just below his scalp. If he found out what he was guilty about and confessed, his hair would grow back. This was not an herbalist or a homeopath. This was an actual medical doctor in a hospital."
"I went to a temple just outside of Shanghai, and I desperately needed to go to the toilet to pee. I had been to many places in Asia, so I wasn't phased by the squat toilets, but this whole toilet block was something else.
It was gross and had a one-inch pool of water all across the ground and smelled terrible. There were no cubicles, no walls, nothing. Just eight squat toilets on the ground. I don't recall seeing any toilet paper.
There were two guys crapping. One was reading a newspaper.
The other was talking to two other guys who were just hanging out directly opposite him smoking. They were all deep in conversation while one guy was squatting down laying a nasty poop.
The only thing unusual for them was the white guy who walked in."
"I am a normal looking female American. You know, dirty blonde hair, blue eyes, five-foot-five-inches-tall. When I was in Beijing, people kept walking up behind me and then their friend would take a picture of us. At first, I was like what is going on, but then I finally got someone to tell me that a lot of Beijing tourists are people from the country making a big trip to the city, and have never seen a white person in real life.
So after that when someone would try to sneak up on me, I would just smile and use some sort of sign language to say 'let's just take the picture together!' So there are about 20 random Chinese country people with pictures of me like we are best friends at random spots around Beijing."
"I stayed with many families of varying economic statuses while I was there. I made a comment about how much I enjoyed skiing at home to the wealthiest family I stayed with, and they decided to take me skiing.
The whole place felt like someone tried to describe skiing to them over the phone and they built the place based on that.
The place was set up so that the bunny hill with the magic carpet was on the bottom, the easiest run and rope tow was above it, and the 'real skiing' was a lift above that. But that meant every single person who wanted to go to higher difficulty slopes had to go through the magic carpet first, and the rope tow too. I've never seen such a disorder mess, especially one that was trying to pass as a line.
When I finally made it up to the terrain park, it was the weirdest one I've ever seen. The moguls were roughly the dimensions of snowmen. The jumps were misshapen and one had a toddler playing on top of it, while his mother, who was wearing high heeled boots, watched from the side. It was like they had no idea they're on a ski hill."
"We got enough food to have a filling breakfast for four adults with plenty left over for 10 yuan, or $1.67.
I ate an entire pigeon, including its brain. I had cow lung, brain, heart, kidney. The weirdest dish I think was frog stir-fry. This wasn't frog legs, this was just frogs cut in half and stir-fried with a lot of Szechuan seasoning. I also had silkworm cocoons, just living silkworms in the process of metamorphosis that you fry in some sesame oil. They tasted like pre-buttered lobster."
I lived in China for two years, having been born in America.
My first time in a public restroom in the mainland, I was at a urinal and a guy craned his neck to check out my dong, looked up and locked eyes with me, and gave me a big smile and a thumbs up.
I was sitting on a bench outside a metro stop waiting for a friend, a guy asked if he could take a photo with me. I said, 'Uh, sure I guess?' and once I did so with him, an actual line formed to take a photo with me.
There was a torrential downpour at the university I taught at for the first time. There was used toilet paper scattered EVERYWHERE once the flooding receded because their storm sewers and sewage sewers were one and the same.
I went to a small town and stopped in for a haircut at a barbershop because my hair was rough. The barber openly refused me service on the grounds that he didn't care for white people.
There are plenty more. The time I spent in China was amazing and eye-opening, but also regularly delved into the mind-blowing territory."
"The first time in Beijing in 2010 I went to a restaurant with a local. She invited me so I didn't check whether I had enough cash. The place was huge and looked fairly classy, not a small family-run place.
So when we finished and the bill came it was about 350 RMB, and apparently, the girl had only like 180. I was like crap what's going to happen now, but she kept calm going like 'um, well dunno' which didn't make me feel any better. She tried to call a friend she knew lived somewhat close to the restaurant but couldn't reach her. I could throw in about 50 but that was about it. So she talked to the waitress for a while, gave her all we had and then we left. I was so confused. I asked what happened, and the girl told me she could just bring the rest of the money another day.
I was stunned; usually, China is competitive, people try to rip you off if you don't pay close attention in many places. And here we were, getting away like this? The best part was when I asked her if the waitress wrote down her name and address or something, and she said: 'yeah, she got my last name'"
"I lived in China last year and have had a few wild moments. For background before I begin, I am a six-foot-six-inch-tall white American with a generally Nordic appearance who speaks Mandarin at an intermediate level.
At English Corner, native speakers are a sought-after commodity, so I tended to attract a large group who wanted to practice their English with me. Once there was a young woman who entered the group and one of the first things she says to me is 'I like your nose. You have a seductive nose.' Immediately after which she asks 'Do you have a Chinese girlfriend?' I say that I do not, to which she replies, 'Do you want one?'
In Chengdu, as well as almost any major city in China, there are signs in various places listing the core virtues of Communism. This would be much more effective if Chengdu was not home to some of the world's largest shopping malls.
People, mostly younger, will run up to you and say 'hello' or some other simple phrase in English and often giggle and run away when you respond.
You will see fairly unusual cuts of meat, including, but not limited to, duck tongue, full chicken head, cow intestine, and pig brain."
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