Wo Shi Laowai – Wo Pa Shui

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Archive for the ‘Ask MyLaowai’ Category

Pain Threshold

Posted by MyLaowai on Sunday, November 4, 2012

If you’ve ever been to China, you’ll know that Chinese people are unreasonably, unfeasibly, incredibly loud. If you’ve not been to China, go now to the window and stick your head out – you can probably still hear them conducting their private, discreet conversations. Chinese people don’t need mobile phones: they simply speak at a normal level to people in the next village.

To get an idea of how loud they are, and to put that in perspective, it is first useful to understand a bit about sound. Sound is measured in decibels. It’s a bit complicated, but if you’re interested:
Sound is usually measured with microphones and they respond (approximately) proportionally to the sound pressure, p. Now the power in a sound wave, all else equal, goes as the square of the pressure. (Similarly, electrical power in a resistor goes as the square of the voltage.) The log of the square of x is just 2 log x, so this introduces a factor of 2 when we convert to decibels for pressures. The difference in sound pressure level between two sounds with p1 and p2 is therefore:
20 log (p2/p1) dB = 10 log (p22/p12) dB = 10 log (P2/P1) dB where again the log is to base 10
We said above that the decibel is a ratio. So, when it is used to give the sound level for a single sound rather than a ratio, a reference level must be chosen. For sound pressure level, the reference level (for air) is usually chosen as 20 micropascals (20 μPa), or 0.02 mPa. (This is very low: it is 2 ten billionths of an atmosphere. Nevertheless, this is about the limit of sensitivity of the human ear, in its most sensitive range of frequency.

If you’re interested, go here.

The loudest sound possible on Earth, for reasons only slightly less complicated, is 194dB, but given that your hearing tissue actually dies at 180dB, that’s meaningless. Hard-core rock concerts usually blaze away at around 140-150dB, but the speakers are far enough away from the crowd that they are usually only deafened temporarily. A more common reference point would be, say a pnuematic jackhammer at fifteen metres or factory machinery at less than a metre, and that’s around 90-95dB. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reckons that more than half an hour of that a day will be bad for you. Seriously bad, in fact. The European Union says that traffic noise alone “causes sleep disturbance, hearing damage, even cardiovascular disease; and hinders performance at work and children’s learning. Studies have revealed that fifty thousand deaths and approaching a quarter of a million cases of cardiovascular disease every year in Europe are linked to traffic noise. For the first time, noise has also been linked to an increased stroke risk”. And that’s in Europe, where cars are about to be limited to 68dB.

In China, birds simply fall dead out of the sky from the noise of Chinese people talking.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a screen shot from a noise meter, taken at a quiet(!) restaurant, where the peak is from a guy across the room. Note that he was no longer on the phone when I whipped out the meter, thus the level is considerably reduced – this is just him talking discreetly to his friend at the same table.

But don’t take my word for it, you can conduct a simple experiment yourself. I did so myself several times, and always with predictable effect:

1. Find yourself a quiet environment, your living room perhaps. Stock it with two Chinese persons, yourself, a mate who has been briefed, and a noise meter. Sit the Chinese next to one another, whilst you and your friend sit as far away from them as possible (which is good advice in any case).

2. At some point, usually instantly, the Chinese will start jibber-jabbering to one another in ewok-hua (the local language). Give them sufficient time to forget the existance of you and your friend. Three seconds should be ample.

3. You and your friend now begin having a quiet conversation, at a level at least 20dB below that at which the Chinese are discussing money or food. Instantly, they will raise their voices to be 25-30dB above you.

4. Raise the level of your conversation by 10dB. At once, note how the Chinese raise their level by 15dB.

5. Repeat step 4. You can keep this up all evening, but in fairness I must point out that in a short span of time your ears will begin to bleed and any crockery is likely to develop cracks. They will remain oblivious to you, and even if you cease your conversation, they will continue on at the same level indefinitely. The only thing that is likely to disturb them is the tiny rustle of paper money.

Forget about little old wizzened blokes in orange robes sitting on the tops of mountains in silent contemplation; these people would be causing avalanches. The walls of Jericho wouldn’t have lasted ten seconds with a couple of Chinese in the general vicinity. If God himself farted after a particularly decent curry, he wouldn’t even be heard in China.

Fuck they are loud.

Posted in Ask MyLaowai, Environment | 27 Comments »

Simple Calculations Lecture One

Posted by MyLaowai on Monday, April 2, 2012

Life can, in many ways, be reduced to simple mathematical equations. Pythagoras can be credited (or blamed) with first coming up with this concept. Pythagoras was an ancient Chinese philosopher from the Chinese province of Samos who believed that all things could be reduced to mathematical concepts. His work was taken seriously by other Chinese philosophers and mathematicians from the Syrian and Egyptian provinces, and today form the basis of Development With Chinese Characteristics and the Great Hu’s Scientific Development Concept. One such example is as follows:

Where R(B/d), or bowls of rice per day, is equal to (the length of the day, less the time in hours spent sleeping), divided by the interval between meals in hours.

Thus, we have the following simple calculation:
R(B/d) = (24-12)/2
R(B/d) = 6
Simply put, the average Chinese requires six (6) bowls of rice per day in order to function normally. This rice intake powers the important activities of sleeping and planning the next bowl of rice.

quod erat demonstrandum.

Posted in Ask MyLaowai | 5 Comments »

Once Upon A Time…

Posted by MyLaowai on Saturday, February 18, 2012

Once upon a time, a Laowai Prince asked a beautiful Chinese Princess: “Will you marry me?”

Her family did not approve and so the Princess said, “NO!”

And the Prince lived happily ever after and rode motorcycles and banged skinny big-titted broads and hunted and fished and raced cars and went to naked bars and dated women half his age and drank whiskey, beer and Captain Morgan and never heard bitching and never paid child support or alimony and banged cheerleaders and kept his house and guns and dog and never got cheated on while he was at work and all his friends and family thought he was fuckin’ cool as hell and he had tons of money in the bank and left the toilet seat up.

The end.

Posted in Ask MyLaowai | 4 Comments »

The miracle of… Wait a minute!

Posted by MyLaowai on Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Having babies – what’s so fucking special about it? Women are forever bleating on and on about how they are better than men because only they can drop a litter of rug-rats, and how this somehow endows them with the ability to create a more compassionate world, and blah de fucking blah. Big whoops I say: come back and talk to me when you have had the experience of receiving a blow job whilst driving your Aston through a built-up area at high speed.

But oh no, we have to treat women ‘special’. And in China they take this to extremes. This probably does not surprise you; it doesn’t surprise me. Very few things possess the power to surprise me any more, except perhaps the (frankly ludicrous) suggestion that someone in China might actually exhibit some fragment of humanity for once in their useless life – but I digress.

Women are ‘special’ in China. Well, retarded kids are ‘special’ where I come from, and there are many similarities between the two groups. Pregnant women are the most ‘special’ of all, of course. You can’t fire their lazy asses, you’re not supposed to beat them as often as the unimpregnated ones, they get paid time off to drop their hatchlings, etcetera etcetera. But this is just the ordinary sort of nonsense we put up with in the West. In China, they don’t watch television, in case it damages the unborn bastards’ eyes. She can’t sit on a crooked mat, or look at bright colours, or have an unharmonious discussion. Food must be properly cut before she eats it, and she can’t eat anything cold, because that leads to arthritis. She doesn’t have sex, of course, but that’s hardly a surprise – after getting a larva on the way, what possible reason could she have for wanting sex ever again?

Best of all, though, is that she gets to wear a lead-lined vest. I’m not making this stuff up folks: Chinese women carrying a codling wear lead-lined vests, a bit like one of those dictators in low-rent countries that you only hear about in the news when we invade them. Apparently, this is to protect the unborn scrag from the dangers of intense radiation given off by photocopiers, computer monitors, fluorescent lights, and in fact anything remotely related to doing her fucking job properly. It probably won’t stop a bullet though, and it won’t help much when she gets pushed down the stairs.

I have a mate here whose wifey-pops is preggers. He’s a good mate, and he reads this blog, so I’m going to be nice about his wife. She won’t go to a hotpot restaurant if it uses induction heating for the food, because of the intense radiation – Sweet Jesus the Jew! So, I’m going to be nice about his wife, but – Holy Fucking Moly! Let’s just hear that one again, shall we:

She won’t go to a hotpot restaurant if it uses induction heating for the food, because of the intense radiation.

What the fuck? I mean, just what the fuck? I’ll ignore for the moment that induction heating is one of the most common forms of cooking in the world, is used in millions of industrial applications, and has been with us since the early 1900’s. This just makes no sense at… all… oh wait. I get it. She’s got a bun in the oven, so suddenly she’s fucking ‘special’. Somehow she suddenly possesses the wisdom of the ancients, as does her mother probably, and every other fucking Chinese woman in the world. Oh no, it isn’t superstitious twaddle or the delusional rantings of a crazed mind, not when it is coming from the gob of a pregnant woman.

Personally, I would not tolerate that shit in my house for one fucking minute. Mrs MyLaowai had better not even think of trying that shit on with me, unless she has plans to be the next Mrs I-Just-Got-My-Ass-Beaten-Up. But hey, I’m a sensitive guy: I also give my workers an additional twenty minutes to have their little polliwogs, before they are required to be back on the production line.

I’m sure that somewhere here there is a moral for you to take away, but quite frankly I’m too disgusted to bother trying to find it. Perhaps it’s just: don’t impregnate a Chinese bird. Hell, don’t bother with them at all, by-and-large. And anyway, all babies look like Chairman Mao – fat, ugly, and always shitting everywhere. Why bother? Nope, if you insist on buying yourself a Chinese girlfriend or wife (and make no mistake about it, it is a financial transaction first and foremost, with a no-money-back guarantee), then for the love of all that you hold dear (beer, cars, guns, and sport), do not under any circumstances allow her to become infected with a baby.

Unless she is ‘special’, of course.

Posted in Ask MyLaowai, Food, Rules of the Road, Sex Sex Sex | 17 Comments »

Flies, and more damned flies.

Posted by MyLaowai on Friday, July 22, 2011

Downstairs, near the entrance to my building, there is a pile of stinking, rotting, filthy garbage. Sometimes it opens the gate but usually it just sits there, sleeping, although it generally stirs thrice a day to eat a bowl of rice. Now, quite honestly I don’t care whether the gate guard is sleeping or not, because I’ve yet to meet any ‘worker’ in China who works at all, and in some cases the more they sleep the less harm they cause. But, now that summer is here, they do start to pong a bit. And this is a problem, because they attract that most accursed of Nature’s creations: the housefly.

Obviously, there are solutions. But with inflation in China running at 15-20% pectin is becoming expensive – my Jamboy is now costing me nearly a dollar a week! Plus I’ve had to make a second one to keep the flies off the Aston. However did they manage in the old days, I wonder?

Bloody flies. I hate them. But the simple fact is that the locals attract them, and there’s nothing to be done about it except pray for nuclear war. Which I do. Every day, in fact. But enough chit-chat about my eternal optimism, today’s essay concerns flies.

It’s a little-known but obviously true fact that the housefly is, in actual fact, a reincarnated Chinese. That’s right, Johnny Wang risen from the dead to plague us foreigners in yet another of his accursed guises. Don’t believe me? Then check out this scientific evidence:

You see what I mean? And it explains the constant buzzing as well as the the risk of disease. Oh, sure, some of you will say that reincarnation is a myth dreamed up by fools and buffoons and that it is merely the by-product of a disturbed religious mind, but that doesn’t alter the fact that it’s true, does it? I’ve watched those detect-a-ghost shows on the Discovery Channel, you know, and my standards of evidence are far more exacting.

This is why, when I go out, I take a can of anti-local disinfectant with me. It’s my own special recipe, containing a mixture of DDT, lead arsenate, blitz-fog, and Zyklon-B. It’s doesn’t actually affect the locals in any way, shape, or form, because when compared with the air, food and water, it’s really more of a mild nuisance than a cure, but when used in conjunction with the large walking stick I carry it can sometimes be effective in keeping them at a distance. And it does keep the reincarnated ones from getting too comfortable.

I hope this has been of some small benefit to you. After all, I am here to help. And now, I’m off to beat a coolie and fix myself a Gin & Tonic…

Posted in Ask MyLaowai | 9 Comments »

There is Still Hope

Posted by MyLaowai on Friday, July 1, 2011

How does one go about describing doing business in China? I mean, really? Sure, there are all the obvious adjectives like “dishonest”, “shitty”, “dirty”, “filthy”, “corrupt”, “primitive”, “festering” and so on and so on. But whilst all those adjectives are certainly spot on and absolutely correct, they don’t really give people in the civilised world much of an idea as to what it’s like here in The Land That Time Forgot.

A good friend of mine describes doing business in China as asking someone to paint the fence white, and suddenly two dozen people are running around in circles looking for black paint (the fence, or what’s left of it after they’ve ‘fixed’ it a few times, is eventually painted red and then falls over).

And that’s a pretty accurate description in my experience.

Take an actual example: Two days ago I asked one of my employees to call the courier and arrange for him to pick up a small parcel the following day. Just that, nothing else. Within half an hour there were discussions regarding which courier to use, which country it was going to, how heavy it was, what rate was applicable, the whole nine yards. At this point I intervened and politely pointed out that I wanted the same fucking courier we have always used and that the weight, destination, colour, shape, and any other variable were nobody’s fucking business except mine, and could the person I had originally asked simply call the fucking courier and would everyone else mind awfully going back to work and doing 60% of the job they were actually hired to do?

The next morning I asked what exact time the courier was expected, because I had plenty to do and couldn’t afford to be sat on my thumb all day waiting for him. I was told “before 12pm”, which is about as much use as a chocolate fireman when it comes to accuracy, but is nevertheless the best one ever gets in China. Naturally, the courier arrived at 1pm. He picked up the parcel, and departed. You might think that’s the end of the story, but that’s only because you haven’t been paying attention these last few years.

I received a call on my phone today from the employee who arranged for the courier to come and pick up the parcel. It seems there are now many problems and matters of intense confusion, with the inevitable result that the parcel will cost twice as much to send, it will be sent on the wrong waybill, it might not get there at all because someone decided to re-write the address and now it’s not readable, there is no longer a destination city, the commercial invoice is missing in action, and what colour did I want the fence painted? Please keep in mind that this employee is one of the better ones.

This happens every single time I send anything by courier. And I do mean every. single. time.

And that, to me, is what doing business in China is like.

Have a happy weekend, my little croissants. I’m off to elbow an old woman in the back of the neck.

Posted in Ask MyLaowai, Fact Friday, Motivational! | 48 Comments »

It’s the Little Things

Posted by MyLaowai on Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I’ve been on the road lately. Actually, the last few months have been a whirlwind of airports and planes and hotel rooms, and there just hasn’t been any time left over for this. Sorry about that. My apologies also to the people who have sent in Guest Posts – I will definitely put some of them up in the next few days.

In the meantime, here’s something for you to consider: When one travels as much as I have recently, one sometimes loses track of where one is. Airports all look the same and it just so happens that there are days when I myself don’t know which country I’m in any longer. As a result, I tend to look for small clues, unique to each country, that help me identify the place. For example, if you are looking idly at a girl and thinking “not bad tits” but you have the feeling that something isn’t quite right, and you then notice the five o’clock shadow on the lip and the mole with the long, luxuriant hairs growing out of it, and then you realise you’re actually looking at a collection of walking, inherited chromosomal disorders, and then you notice a wetness on your cheeks caused by your eyes bleeding because the smell is so intense that your sinuses have prolapsed, and that the appalling shrieks and jabberings around you are not, in fact, from the Baboon House at London Zoo, but are in fact being emitted by the general population around you, and then you notice that not all the wetness on your cheeks is blood, because your eyes are in fact also streaming with tears of self-pity, because your subconscious is a bit quicker on the uptake than you are…

THAT’S the moment you know you are back in China.

Posted in Ask MyLaowai | 4 Comments »

The Moral Compass

Posted by MyLaowai on Monday, May 16, 2011

The Moral Compass

I have this device called a Moral Compass. You probably do, too. Most of us have them, in fact. And they’re really useful things to have around – they sort of let us know what the right thing to do is, which is very handy in this crazy, mixed-up world.

But the problem is, Moral Compasses don’t always point due north, as it were. Or, rather, one person’s due north is another person’s sou’sou’east. Whatever, the point is they don’t all point the same way. For instance, there are people out there who are quite prepared to strap a bomb to their chest and detonate it in a cafe. Now, I totally get the reason why, I really do. I can even empathise with these people. But it isn’t the way my Moral Compass points and I would be hard-pressed to find a situation where I’d approve of that. If you are one these people, rest assured that I find it equally repulsive when other people bomb your village from thirty thousand feet and then refer to what’s left of everyone you knew as “collateral damage” or “insurgents”. My Moral Compass doesn’t point that way at all, for which I am eternally grateful.

The Moral Compass is a very tricky device, and sometimes it leads us astray, but though it may be a flawed tool, it’s the best that many of us have. But because it is so tricky, I generally refer to it in only two situation: when I am not remotely sure of what I should do; and when I am absolutely sure of what I should do. Those are the times when the Moral Compass is most useful.

But it is flawed, nevertheless, and has a tendency to drift over time. And so, therefore, sometimes it needs calibration from an external reference point. My reference point is a chap by the name of John Chinaman.

You may have met John Chinaman – he does get around, certainly. I keep bumping into him wherever I travel. And the nice thing about John Chinaman, is that his Moral Compass always points 180 degress the opposite of what I want mine to point to. I just compare my Moral Compass to his, and if they are not 180 degrees in opposition, then I know it’s mine that needs adjusting, because John Chinaman’s Moral Compass hasn’t shown any change since the dawn of time.

If you ever find yourself in a situation where you are lost as to the correct course of action, or alternatively are so very certain of yourself that you cannot be persuaded of another’s viewpoint, then take a look at John Chinaman’s Moral Compass and adjust your course accordingly.

There’s something in that for all of us.

Posted in Ask MyLaowai, Rules of the Road | 33 Comments »

UbuntuJONAS (Jew-On-A-Stick Edition)

Posted by MyLaowai on Friday, April 22, 2011

* For Harold – Happy Easter *

There is a difference, it would appear, between an IT fanatic and a fanatic IT person. The former has lots of cool gadgets and gizmo’s and things with flashing lights, whilst the latter causes their neighbours to worry about the safety of their kids.

For instance, I am well aware that there is a debate between users of Microsoft and Apple over which Operating System is best, or between users of Nokia and Android and Apple over which phone is best, or between users of Apple and everyone else over everything. Or, possibly, over iEverything. And that’s all well and good, because in the final analysis most of us just want to read our emails, play some games, and watch porn – and pretty much every computer and every OS ever built allow us to do just that.

And that appears to be a problem if you are a fanatic IT person:

Ubuntu Christian Edition is a free, open source operating system geared towards Christians. It is based on the popular Ubuntu Linux. Ubuntu is a complete Linux-based operating system, freely available with both community and professional support. The goal of Ubuntu Christian Edition is to bring the power and security of Ubuntu to Christians. Ubuntu Christian Edition is suitable for both desktop and server use.

Now, you might shake your head at the insanity of it all. You might chuckle about the daft way folks behave in certain religiously-extreme parts of the world. You might even (as I did) throw up your hands in despair and go back to your porn. But the tech guy here at MLHQ was genuinely curious and began a private investigation of this Ubuntu Jew-On-A-Stick Edition. His findings were rather interesting…

Ubuntu Christian Edition was made in only seven days, and kernel configuration is done through the make godconfig command. This generates a perfect .config file. It knows what your hardware needs and which modules you will need. The init process has been replaced by the genesis process. Finally, in order to work properly, Ubuntu Christian Edition needs to be activated online with a procedure called Baptism.

Ubuntu Christian Edition has only 10 commands, one of which is the confess command that deletes your logs and caches.

To install Wine in Ubuntu Christian Edition, you simply enter apt-get install water.

The hand cursor in Ubuntu Christian Edition’s browser has stigmata.

If you right-click on Wanda the Fish whilst logged as root in Ubuntu Christian Edition, you get in the popup menu the option multiply.

Ubuntu Christian Edition doesn’t allow one to put a network interface into promiscuous mode, and only married processes can fork children. Multiplication problems can only be done using the FORTH programming language, as in “Go forth and multiply”. Cloning is strictly forbidden.

In Ubuntu Christian Edition to find the meaning of a function you’ll have to type bible (name of the function) instead of man (name of the function).

In Ubuntu Christian Edition, a special BSOD (Blue Screen Of Death) has been introduced, which looks like a long shining tunnel (LSTSOD).

In Ubuntu Christian Edition the mount command calls the sermon script. Ensuring you always get a sermon on the mount.

There is no abort() support in Ubuntu Christian Edition’s glibc, and the sin() function has been removed from libm.

In Ubuntu Christian Edition, all documents are saved by grace through faith, and you can only burn heretic CD’s.

With Ubuntu Christian Edition, you don’t need to surf the web. You can walk on it.

Dual boot is not possible in Ubuntu Christian edition. “Thou shalt have no other operating systems before Me…”.

In Ubuntu Christian Edition, there can be only root and 12 more users, one of which will help hackers to access the system.

When the system has been idle for a few minutes, Ubuntu Christian Edition starts praying to save the screen.

If you uninstall Ubuntu Christian Edition, it will automatically re-install after three days.

Ubuntu Christian Edition’s Nautilus file browser has been replaced by Noah’s Ark file browser. It features an embedded backup function, limited to 40 days. And for 40 days before Easter, Ubuntu Christian Edition works in text mode only. Ubuntu Christian Edition processes can respawn only at Easter. And you can never get the system nailed down: It would be blasphemous.

In Ubuntu Christian Edition the default location for saved files is /heaven, EOF is replaced by AMEN, and the media player automatically discovers hidden backward messages in rock music.

In Ubuntu Christian Edition there are no zombie processes. No Voodoo in good Christian systems. Ubuntu Christian Edition also hasn’t got any configuration Wizard. No superstition in serious Christian systems.

Ubuntu Christian Edition won’t run on Apple computers. He said not to touch them.

An algorithm developed in Ubuntu Christian Edition does not need proofs.

Ubuntu Christian Edition’s man pages are dogmatic.

If a process dies in Ubuntu Christian Edition, it reaches eternal life. Without error code, it goes to the Holy Data Structure of Heaven; with error code, it is damned to the infamous Data Structure of Hell.

There are no direct broadcast messages from root in Ubuntu Christian Edition: there are special Prophet users who deliver them.

Ubuntu Christian Edition networking refuses to work with FreeBSD.

If you install successfully S.A.T.A.N. (Security Auditing Tool for Analysing Networks) on Ubuntu Christian Edition, you get a kernel panic as you reboot.

Ubuntu Christian Edition does not have daemons.

Posted in Ask MyLaowai, Fact Friday, Festivals et al | 4 Comments »

Suits You, Sir

Posted by MyLaowai on Wednesday, March 2, 2011

So, you are in China, and you want some clothes? Every city and town has a ‘fabric market’, where you can choose the fabric you want, and have the clothes you desire tailored at a reasonable price. You will enjoy the high quality and low cost, and you may even indulge in a little friendly bargaining with the tailor. Enjoy!

Right, that’s the bit for the dumbfuck tourists out of the way. When I want clothes, here’s what I do:

I go to Thailand.

China is a bit problematic when it comes to clothing, and footwear, and, well pretty much everything else actually. For one thing, Chinese are not merely smaller than real people, they have entirely different body shapes: no hips, no ass, no tits, legs that are as well-muscled as chopsticks, complete lack of chest and shoulders, flat heads, flat feet. So finding clothes you can wear isn’t just a matter of merely scaling up the stuff they wear. And ‘tailor’ or not, no one in China seems to comprehend that what you want to buy might not be what they want to sell. As for quality, well that’s a joke on a good day. The fabric you think you are buying, well, it isn’t. The buttons are made of soda-biscuits, thread dissolves in water, colours run and everything shrinks upon washing. The stitching is barely enough to hold the stuff together on the rack, and no further. And the price? Outrageous!

When I want clothes, I generally take a long weekend, leaving Friday after work and returning Monday night. I fly to Bangkok, where I meet my regular tailor (note: always go with an Indian or Nepalese tailor). He looks up his records, measures me for any changes, and gets right to work. The quality is superb, and I can get a couple of really nice suits and a few shirts (and perhaps a pair of shoes) for the same price as some raggity shit from China’s finest ‘tailor’. The weekend away in a nice country with great food and friendly people can be considered a free bonus.

Recently I wanted some new clothes. And unfortunately, I was far too busy to be able to go to Bangkok, even for three days. I knew it would lead to disaster, and I knew I’d pay over the odds, but I needed some clothes. So I went to the ‘fabric market’.

I’m not completely stupid, so I brought with me a shirt and a pair of trousers that I wanted copied. You’d think a Chinese could at least do that, right? I selected the fabrics, gave explicit instructions, obtained a completion date that was ten days longer than any tailor in Bangkok would give, and (after significant argument) paid a deposit equal to the normal full price that a tailor in Bangkok would charge.

When I returned to pick up my clothing, the trousers weren’t ready. I saw the shirts hanging on a rack though, so I took a look. They were, of course, wrong. There were buttons without corresponding buttonholes, buttonholes without matching buttons, buttons missing or in the wrong place, pockets missing and some of the shonkiest stitching I’ve ever seen. Par for the course. I was told the trousers would be ready “in a few days”.

I returned a few days later. Some of the problems with the shirts had been fixed. Sort of. The trousers were not there, though I was informed that they were “on the way”. Would I care to wait for twenty minutes? Sure, I said, knowing full well they were not finished yet. An hour later with no sign of the alleged items of apparel, and I departed, having left instructions to call me when everything was there, completed, and ready to take away.

A week later I got the call. Everything was there, and it was all wrong. One pair of trousers was almost nearly the right length just about, the others were impossibly short. I’ll never get my hands in the pockets of any of them. Still, all-in-all, it was a good job for a Chinese. Everything only slightly fucked up, only two weeks later than a date that was only ten days longer than a human would have required, with most of the errors able to be remedied by myself with a needle and thread, at a price that was merely exorbitant. I considered myself lucky, paid up and left.

Why pay, you might wonder? Well, the deposit covered the cost of the materials, and a healthy profit margin. If I hadn’t paid the balance, the so-called ‘tailor’ would have simply sold the clothes to a Chinese at a knock-off price. I’d have been out of pocket and out of pockets. At least this way I got a few shirts that were almost large enough and some trousers that I could wear in emergencies.

I consider myself lucky, though: most people are not nearly as fortunate in their dealing with the Chinese. In a land where cutting corners, ripping you off, cheating, lying, and stealing are all considered virtues, this is to be expected. When someone is more crooked than a dog’s hind leg, how can you expect integrity or pride in one’s work?

Next time though, it’s back to my real tailor in Thailand.

Posted in Ask MyLaowai | 13 Comments »