Expats may enjoy each day in China as an “adventure” waiting to happen, but have you considered that Chinese have stories of their own about their “adventures” with foreigners?
Guangzhou Daily shares with us a number of personal stories in which Chinese people encounter an expat who, to their often embarrassing surprise, understands Putonghua. While the number of foreigners that have adapted to living in China has increased, it seems the number of Chinese that continue to underestimate them remains extremely high.
We can’t vouch for the authenticity of any of the stories below, especially when a supposed personal anecdote is told in the third person, but all of them sound truthful enough. They are short, life-like, and share the same theme.
They are also accompanied with pictures of movie stars, which we’ll reproduce here:
One day I was at the supermarket buying something when I saw a black person. I turned to my friend next to me and said, “Hey look, that black laowai is really black.” The black person then looked back at me and said, “[I'm not black, it's just that] you’re so white.”
During university, my classmates and I had all gone out to arrange our class schedule when a brother from Africa who was very black appeared in front of us. One of my classmates said, “So fucking black!” We didn’t think that the laowai would turn his head around and say “So fucking yellow!” We just about fell over at that point~!
Two women and a foreign man were taking an elevator together. One of the women noticed the chest hair of the laowai was very long, and said to the other woman, “Look, the laowai’s chest hair is very sexy.” Who would have thought that the laowai would suddenly answer: “Thank you!”.
Me and my girlfriend went to a roller skating rink. My girlfriend repeatedly fell down so I said, “Piggy, do you see that beautiful foreign girl over there? She is much taller than you, but she skates so much better.” That foreign woman skated over and said, “Thank you for your compliment, handsome.” Faint! I hurriedly used my English to answer back, “Not at all.”
Once, my dad went to the Great Wall. As he climbed the wall, he saw a tall, white person sitting on a step. My dad told the people all around him, “Look, this laowai doesn’t have the strength to climb the Wall.” Then the white person replied, “I’m taking a short break, is that okay?”
There was this time I was eating sand pot noodles at a neighborhood outdoor stall. I was dripping with so much sweat that it was like I was drunk or crazy. It so happened the dormitories for Southern University were next door. Then, a young woman of Chinese nationality walked out holding the hand of a black child of about five years old. This small black child kept looking at my drooling face as they kept walking, and then suddenly said in a perfect Nanjing dialect, “I want to eat sand pot noodles!” I just about spit out my noodles.
I was once taking the Guangzhou Metro when I saw a family of foreigners. The mother was leading the daugher who was very pretty, just like a doll. Then, an old gentlemen beside her used standard English to ask, “Where are you from?” The little girl impatiently replied with a nonchalant answer in Chinese: the USA.
I wanted to bring my classmate on a trip to Beijing one weekend but she was too lazy to come along, so I had to go alone. On the train there, I sat next to a very good-looking foreign man. So I called up my classmate to vent at her. I told her, “You’re going to regret this for the rest of your life! I’m telling you, there’s a foreign man sitting next to me with a side profile that looks like Brad Pitt. All the more eye candy for me!” After I put the phone down, I noticed that the man was noticably happy at me; his heart was brimming with joy as his face radiated with happiness. The foreign man then told me (in Chinese), “Miss, your side profile is also very beautiful!” …Opposite us were a couple that almost fell over from laughing. It was all I could do to refrain from jumping off the train.
I’m from Jinan. Once, my father and his colleagues went on a business trip to the USA where they went shopping at a supermarket. As they discussed among themselves in the Jinan dialect, they were approached by an American who used a proper Jinan dialect to say to them, “You are from Jinan!” The colleagues all exploded in sweat. After speaking a while, it turns out that this laowai had stay behind with the rear US guard after the war. The colleagues asked him, “So, how is your English?” The laowai slapped his leg and said, “English is so fucking hard to learn!!”
Photos: Guangzhou Daily