Wo Shi Laowai – Wo Pa Shui

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Archive for May, 2007

So, You Still Dare to Go to China?

Posted by MyLaowai on Monday, May 28, 2007

There’s this reporter with the South Korean daily Hankyoreh named Cha Han-phil, and he has a blog. In his blog, he writes about common travel experiences in China. In his words:

“I am not saying people should not go to China. China has already become an inalienable partner to South Korea,” said Cha. “But many South Koreans go to China without knowing much about the country. And they often fall into embarrassing situations, or unwittingly place themselves in disadvantageous situations. I am telling them to know a bit about China before they go there to prevent those unfortunate things happening.”

I’ve read a little of his blog, and he’s absolutely spot on with a lot of it, though in all honesty he lets the bastards off the hook a bit lightly. Fair enough, we all have our viewpoints. His latest post, entitled “Shameless Chinese people”, tells of a train journey from Zhengzhou, the capital of Hebei province, to Shenyang, the capital of Liaoning province. This is part of what he experienced:
– a mother encouraging her toddler to urinate on the floor
– people throwing litter out the window
– men taking their shirts off to cool down
– no one flushing the (squat) toilet after using the restroom
– young couple using the seat covers to shine their shoes before leaving the train
– people spitting food on to the floor
– people shouting into their mobile phones without consideration
– people smoking everywhere without regard for fellow passengers

Cha concluded: “While watching these people, I couldn’t help but think that Chinese people solely pursue their own convenience and interest. They utterly lack public morals.”

Well, like I said, he lets the bastards off lightly. I see all that and more on a daily basis in glittering Shanghai, never mind in the backwoods of Dumbfukistan and Fuckwitistan where he travelled.

Cha Han-phil has received a right royal torrent of abuse for his efforts, too. Apparently, he’s a racist, a narrow-minded nationalist, and a Western Imperialist to boot! That does not, however, make him in the slightest bit incorrect.

This is what I see from time to time in and around Shanghai:
– ‘people’ shitting in the restaurant washbasins in KFC.
– ‘people’ pissing against the wall in 5-star restaurants, because 15 yards is too far to have to walk to the toilet.
– ‘people’ gobbing out the window on to cyclists.
– ‘people’ gobbing on the floor in other people’s homes, hotel rooms, etc.
– ‘people’ dropping cigarette butts on the floor in other people’s homes, hotel rooms, etc.
– ‘people’ throwing up onto the floor of the bus, or out the window, instead of into the sickbag provided (and yes, they are provided. Chinese have very weak stomachs, despite all the delicious food and non-cancerous hot water).
– mothers encouraging their toddlers to urinate on other people, particularly foreign other people.
– ‘people’ wearing pyjamas instead of actual clothes when going to work, to the shops, to the stockmarket. When asked why, they reply “it is traditional’. Being too damned lazy to get dressed is obviously not a factor.

And the list goes on. I’ve seen this stuff, actually seen it with my own eyes. And it’s not an isolated minority, it’s the vast, overwhelming majority. Don’t believe me? Come to China, sit in a taxi at any traffic light, and look around you at the nearest 8 cars. Chances are that every single one will have some monkey with his/her/it’s fingers shoved up the nose to the fourth knuckle, or inserted into another randomly selected orifice.

And this is the place that claims to be more culturally advanced than anywhere else in the Universe? Give me a break! If the hypocrisy were any stronger, it would be given a listing in PHYSPROP.

Actually, I just re-read this post, and I apologise. Cha Han-phil isn’t the only one who lets them off lightly.

So, You Still Dare to Go to China?

Posted in Environment, Media, Rules of the Road | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

Richard Writes…

Posted by MyLaowai on Friday, May 25, 2007

I just read this wonderful post by Richard Spencer, certainly one of the better journalists in China. If I may quote from it:

Some might say that journalists shouldn’t take a stand. Perhaps they are right. But I can tell you that on these things it is hard to pretend we don’t have attitudes: The Dalai Lama: we are sympathetic; the Tibetans have had, and continue to have, a rough time.

Taiwan: we don’t care much whether Taiwan is or is not a part of China. But we think it’s up to the people who live there, not missile batteries on the coast of Fujian.

The East Turkestan Islamic Movement: we are not at all sure this exists any more. If it does, we don’t support terrorism, but as with Taiwan, we think the Uighurs have had a rough time, and are sympathetic to them as a people, at least.

Democracy movements: need you ask? We understand the Chinese desire for caution, and to avoid destablising, overnight change. But at the end of the day – yes, we are in favour. As Margaret Beckett said the other day, a society in which the people are not granted the levers of political change is not stable in any sense we understand.

Falun gong: a bit crazy, and they often talk nonsense (too many of their methods of argument, and their understanding of the word proof, seem to resemble the Chinese Communist Party Propaganda Department’s). But do they deserve in any way what’s happened to them? No.
Many, many “friends of China” – businessmen and diplomats who say the politically correct thing in public – have the same views in private, even those from “friendly” Asian countries whom Beijing thinks it has won over with its “soft power”.

Kudos to you, Mr Spencer.

Posted in Annexed Territories, Human Rights, Media | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »


Posted by MyLaowai on Thursday, May 24, 2007

Han-Deeman (n.): Peasant farmer who is also a plumber who is also an electrician who is also an accountant who is also an expert on International Relations. He’s a guy who can do anything at all. Just not very well.

– From the MyLaowai Dictionary.

Han-dromeda Galaxy (n.): Neighbour galaxy of our Milky Way, believed to be the ancient home of the Han Chinese, and origin of an extremely resistant strain of the clap, also known as the Han-dromeda Strain.

– From the StrandedMariner Dictionary.

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Tourist Disinfectant, Anyone?

Posted by MyLaowai on Monday, May 21, 2007


Posted in Sex Sex Sex | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

A Chinese Fire Drill…

Posted by MyLaowai on Monday, May 21, 2007

Now, I’m fairly sure that most of you have heard of the expression ‘Chinese Fire Drill’. But what does it mean? Random House Publishing had this to say on the matter:

There are two main senses of Chinese fire drill. One is the broad one, ‘a state or example of utter confusion’. The other, rather specific, is a high-school or college prank where a group of students jump out of a car that’s stopped at a red light, run around the car, and pile back in before the light turns green. Both of these stem from the idea of a fire drill being confused and panicked.

The first sense was first used in the military in World War II. Chinese here is not necessarily a racial sentiment. Several expressions in common use in aviation since World War I, such as Chinese landing ‘a clumsy landing’ and Chinese ace ‘an inept pilot’, derive from the English phrase one wing low, thought to resemble the Chinese language or a Chinese name. The use of Chinese to mean ‘clumsy; inferior’ may stem from these phrases, although there were earlier isolated examples which were based on ideas of the inferiority of the Chinese.

The car-prank sense is first attested in print in the early 1970s, but a number of people have reported its use in the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s, so it is likely that the phrase was current at the time, but simply was not written down that early.

Whatever the origin of the phrase, and whichever meaning is intended, it is now regarded as offensive to Chinese people, and should be avoided.

And the ever-helpful Wikipedia had this:

The phrase Chinese Fire Drill, in the sense of “a state of utter confusion,” first appeared during World War II. Chinese here comes from British military tradition of using the word to mean clumsy, inept, or inferior. It is likely that this was not intended as a slur on the Chinese people, but rather a play on the phrase “one wing low” which referred to a clumsy pilot and was thought to sound Chinese. Regardless of its origin, it is considered offensive by some.

Fair enough. Late last year I was fortunate enough to actually witness a Chinese Fire Drill, so I’d like to add my own couple of cents to the mix (FYI, at time of writing USD$0.02 = RMB$3057.25).

The location of the event was a suburb of Shanghai – most developed, most modern, most fashion, most diligent, and most delicious city in China (and probably the world) – called QingPu. The Fire Service (a part of the Red Army), had recently taken delivery of the newest and best (and therefore, imported) equipment, and was looking to show it off to an impressed public. They had been practising for weeks, and were all set for the Big Day.

The site for the drill was in front of a large restaurant opposite the local Government building, a huge and impressive structure easily six hundred times larger than any other building in the town (with the exception of the PSB Headquarters, which is even larger). All the top officials were on display, with their plastic water bottles and jam-jars full of piss-weak tea. Some had even gotten changed out of their pyjamas for the Big Event.

The basic premise was that a fire would break out behind a pot plant in the carpark, the entire Fire Service would be called in from around the corner, and the Brave Chinese Fire Fighters would swing into action to extinguish the fire. For reasons of safety, all roads were closed and the fire was simulated by an orange smoke grenade.

I was in the area, and had plenty of time to kill, so I sat back and observed with interest.

The grenade was set off, and within minutes the Chinese Fire Drill was under way. The Fire Service, waiting just around the corner, roared into action. Half of them turned the wrong way and drove off down the road in the wrong direction. The half that went the right way squealed to a halt a hundred yards from the ‘fire’ and began running out hoses. Unfortunately, the hoses weren’t long enough, so they had to reel the hoses back in, drive a bit nearer, squeal to (another) halt, and run out the hoses again. Then someone realised that the water hydrant was the other side of the restaurant, so two hoses were reeled back in, connected together, then run back out again, this time to the hydrant. By now the guys that had gone the wrong way had managed to turn around and had arrived at the scene, and The Brave Chinese Fire Service (great lads, every one of ’em!) started the pumps and began to Fight Fires. Or, at least, they would have, but for the fact that no one had thought to turn on the hydrant. This fact was not immediately apparent to Our Brave Lads, who stood in various postures of puzzlement for some minutes, before some bright spark worked out the problem. Half a dozen lads instantly ran to the hydrant, ran back to the pumper, collected the correct tool, ran back to the hydrant, and turned it on. The hoses, which were lying unattended on the ground, let loose like cut snakes on a hot tin roof, soaking everyone within a hundred yards. Frankly, at that moment, I thought someone was going to be shot (probably me, from the way I was collapsed in hysterics). Somehow, one of the brighter ones managed to get the pump turned off, and the hoses under control. Then the smoke grenade died of old age. There was a hasty conference, and it was decided that the best thing was to send out for another smoke grenade, and try again.

I couldn’t take any more of it, really I couldn’t. My spleen was near the rupture point already. I still get the giggles whenever I think of it. All I can do is refer you back to our friend, Mr Wikipedia:

The phrase Chinese Fire Drill, in the sense of “a state of utter confusion,” first appeared during World War II. Chinese here comes from British military tradition of using the word to mean clumsy, inept, or inferior.

’nuff said.

Posted in You're Joking? | Tagged: | 7 Comments »


Posted by MyLaowai on Sunday, May 20, 2007

Han-Djob (n.): Haircut with Chinese Characteristics.

– From the MyLaowai Dictionary.

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Posted by MyLaowai on Tuesday, May 15, 2007

HAN (n.): Computers that have been networked specifically in order to enable a user to operate MSN Messenger and QQ.

– From the MyLaowai Dictionary.

Han-ticipation (n.): Expectation, intuition, or foreknowledge that something will go seriously wrong, because you are dealing with Han Chinese. See also Cluster fuck (Charlie Foxtrott) and Chinese fire drill.

– From the StrandedMariner Dictionary.

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Posted by MyLaowai on Saturday, May 12, 2007

Han-Dover (v.): Similar to Bend-Over [and touch your toes while we insert this length of rough-sawn timber]. See also Hong Kong.

– From the MyLaowai Dictionary.

Han-onymous call (n.): Some Han Chinese cunt calls your mobile, because he made a mistake when he jotted down the phone number of that KTV girl he was with the other day. He only bleats ‘wei?…wei!…weiii?’, and refuses to give his name or the nature of his business. You hang up on him, and the above process is repeated another 20 odd times. After all, he is Han Chinese, so he can’t have dialled the wrong number.

– From the StrandedMariner Dictionary

Posted in Dictionary | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Disneyland is Too Far

Posted by MyLaowai on Monday, May 7, 2007

With it’s slogan “Disneyland is too far,” Beijing’s Shijingshan Amusement Park features a replica of Cinderella’s Castle, with staff dressed like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and other Disney characters. None of this is authorized by Disney – but that has not stopped the state-owned park from creating its own counterfeit version of the Magic Kingdom in a brazen example of the sort of open and widespread copyright piracy that has Washington fuming.

But 31-year-old housewife Zhang Li betrays a typical Chinese attitude on the issue while chasing her young son around the park: “I don’t understand why that is such a big problem. Shouldn’t others be able to use those characters besides [Disney]?” she asks.

Her view is common in a country where lax societal and law-enforcement attitudes toward copyright protection has seen the counterfeit goods industry become a key part of the national economy.

According to Zhang Zhifeng, a member of the state-sponsored China Intellectual Property Society, “If [the Chinese Government] increase IPR protections, this is of no benefit to China, only to foreign copyright-holders. If they go and protect these, then China’s own IPR sector will not be allowed to develop and become competitive,”


Mouse? No – a Big-Eared Cat

The park President, when interviewed on video, said that nothing was copied from Disney and that all the characters were original creations. That just happen to look like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Snow White, the Seven Dwarves, Doraemon, Hello Kitty, Winnie the Pooh, Curious George, Shrek, Tigger, and a whole host of other well-known characters. These ‘original creations’ spend a lot of time hanging out with (and, I’m sure, lending credibility to) the Beijing Olympics Fluffpuppets, so I guess it’s all legal and above-board, then.

Thanks to JapanProbe and The Standard for the heads-up and first report.

Posted in Lies & Damned Lies, Media | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

The Funniest Joke in China – Part 1

Posted by MyLaowai on Monday, May 7, 2007

I still remember my early days here in Hell China. Back then I had this odd belief that people were all basically the same, that all parents wanted a better life for their kids than they had themselves, that education was the key to progress, that when you smiled at people, the vast majority would smile back, that love really was the most basic human emotion. Oh, how naive I was.

Now, I’m a guy that likes to have a laugh: I like to hear jokes, and I like to tell them. So it was rather a shock to me when I arrived in the sewer China, to discover that irony was something they made rice bowls out of. Oh, the revelation didn’t come all at once, and Ye Gods! I tried hard to find a funny bone in these peeps, but no joy was to be had. Initially, I put this down to cultural differences. It seemed a reasonable assumption to make, and foolish young grasshopper wot I was, I figured it was something I would come to understand in time. Of course, I was wrong.

One day I was hit by inspiration: I would gather together at a restaurant all my Chinese leeches bloodsuckers ‘friends’ (my apologies to those few who genuinely are friends), and I would tell them all the jokes that I knew. By observing their reactions to said jokes, I would be in a better position to determine the orientation of their sense of humour. I ended up with around a dozen peeps, male and female, urban and rural, aged from twenty to thirty – a good spread. Well, I don’t mind saying that I was on fire that night. It was a night in which every joke I’d ever heard came back to me as easily as if I’d only just heard it. I covered it all, from wit to satire to irony to sarcasm to slapstick to farce. I did plays on words, body gestures, and cringe. I even asked why the chicken crossed the road. I reckon I nailed it all. And not so much as a smile from the audience, not a fucking twitch.

Oh yeah, you may say, they didn’t understand. Perhaps, which was why I had Mrs MyLaowai translate everything, and why I explained the various cultural references. It went on for hours.

No reaction at all. Nothing.

After I’d run out of ideas, I sat back, exhausted. And inspiration hit again: “All right”, I said. “I’m going to eat something myself now. While I do that, I have a mission for you: Since you don’t find my jokes funny, I’d like you all to get together and decide on the funniest joke you collectively know, then tell it to me. Perhaps I can work out Chinese Humour that way!”

Well, they all thought that was a fine idea, so off they went into a struggle session group discussion. After some minutes they all started to fall about the place laughing, so I knew they had it. I present that Joke for you now…

A Man and his Son go to the zoo. They are at the Tiger cage, when Son asks his Father “Father, is Tiger married?”
“No Son, Tiger is not married”
They then get to the Giraffe cage. “Father, is Giraffe married?”
“No Son, Giraffe is not married”
They move on to the Elephant cage. “Father, is Elephant married?”
“No Son, Elephant is not married”
[at this point my humorous friends are starting to crack up, so I know the Punchline is near]
They arrive at the Donkey cage. “Father, is Donkey married?”, asks Son.
“Yes, Donkey is the only animal that gets married”, replies Father.

And they were falling about the place in hysterics. Why? I know not. I tried to understand, I really did. Was there something cultural about donkeys? Was it a play on words that was lost in translation? No. It was simply the idea of a donkey being the only animal to get married. Would it have been funny if, instead of ‘Donkey’, it had been ‘Aardvark’? No, of course not, Aardvarks don’t get married, I was informed.

Chinese ‘humour’? Don’t make me laugh.

In an unexpected sequel, I told this story to some local colleagues here last year, and they informed me that there was, in fact, an even more hilarious joke. Stay tuned for The Funniest Joke in China – Part 2.

P.S. for what it’s worth here’s a joke for you: Chinese Culture.

Posted in You're Joking? | Tagged: | 8 Comments »