”Chinese people are racist, they view having white skin as smart or upper class, historically light skinned people were scholars or officials who worked indoors, which dark skinned people were field workers, manual labor”
If this is how you feel, or what you read online, then keep reading this article 😀
In my travels abroad, I’ve seen much, experienced much, and realized much.
Each and every day in China, was some new and unexplainable adventure, which I could never predict, such as being beaten by elderly ladies, getting hooked up with dates by elderly men, and becoming stranded in a different province, with no money, train ticket, or enough Chinese to get around.
Well, each day after classes, most “good” students (especially in hardworking study oriented countries like China) would go back to their dorms and study or do homework, but me? I live it up, even with $3 (20 RMB) in my pocket for lunch.
There was this park called “Lu Xun Park” which was around 7 train stops from my school. (If you’ve ever been to Shanghai before, it’s from Jinshajiang station to Hongkou football station) Now this station had an amusement park, Community Park, malls, stores etc.
Beaten by elderly ladies
Me, and my travel companion, would hop on random trains, to random stops, and get off to explore random places.
Not always a good idea, but fun nevertheless
It’s an easy way to learn the area, and escape what I describe as the “the foreign bubble.” This is a bubble in the middle of the city, where 98% of the foreigners in China work, live, hangout, and usually never leave. This is where I don’t hangout; but back to the park story.
Lu Xun Park, is where a lot of elderly people will meet up, sing, dance, play badminton ❤ and relax with their grandchildren. Me and my friend thought “hey, let’s go beat some elderly folks in badminton.”
And since a crowd quickly formed, my friend thought it would be fun to record us. I quickly tried to prove my power lol, after playing with some guy who was probably in his 20s – 30s. And I guess it was his mother or grandmother who came to take me on, she looked so feeble and tired, and I thought, hehe, I bet she’ll totally crush me (nahh). So we played, I took it easy on her, missing a few swings, but after 2 minutes or so, she started spiking the birdie (shuttlecock) like she was swatting flies. So I got serious, and the end result, I got beat by a little old lady.
Oh, and that video has been deleted for face saving purposes thank you.
This same lady also became my future Chinese teacher/liaison. Every time I went to that park, she was there waiting for me, so we can have a chat. But if I said something wrong in Chinese, she wouldn’t let me progress with my point. She even punished me a few times like swatting me, if I forgot what she taught…
(I actually respect the elderly very much, and they are a lot of fun. We can learn much. It’s thanks to them that I had a different experience than what most people would have)
Hooked up by elderly men
This one, lol, that’s all I can start off by saying.
Me, and my friend had a hobby of joking with the elderly in China (Karma will so pay me back when I’m a senior). Because we get bored easily, so let’s chat with some people; especially on the train, because we’re going to get stared at regardless. I rather people ease drop our conversation and everyone chat with the foreigners, than to have an awkward starting contest which you will always lose.
Because I stare back (stare at me? I stare at you), but they never blink (they’re good at this game).
So if we saw an elderly gentleman sitting and watching us, we’ll go say: 你好 (ni hao)
The initial shock they exhibit from that one phrase, makes you start laughing like no tomorrow, but if it’s this easy to start a conversation, we decide “hey. Let’s be dark skinned Chinese minorities”…which they always believe. (Sidebar) Every time I tell someone in China, I’m a Chinese minority, like Miao, or Uighur they always believe me. Because I must be a mixed blood baby, there’s no way my Chinese can be so good if I’m not Chinese (ˊ_>ˋ)
So, we talk to them about us being minorities in China, (so now we’re minorities of minorities, in a country where we’re already a minority). (Being in China, we’re already minorities, so now us being African American/Miao makes us minorities of a minority). We always break the news to them after a good laugh, and we honestly always make the train ride funny for everyone, it’s a lot of fun, plus we haven’t been accused of disturbing the peace just yet.
The funny thing about being young, and us speaking Chinese (his Chinese is way better than mine) is that according to the elderly since we’re respectful, easy going, funny, and intend to live in China….We would be good matches for their granddaughters!!!
I’ve heard this about 3 times in one semester!!!
“Whoa buddy, I’m 21 (23 in Korean years lol) and poor, are you sure about this marriage?”
I hope they were joking just as much as I was.
Getting utterly lost in China, with no money, not enough Chinese, no phone battery, and all alone
One thing most study abroad guides tell you is, “when you go abroad; DO NOT travel alone, STAY with your group!
I’m a lone wolf, the first thing I did when I got there, was stray from the group (of course) lol.
I went on the bus my very first day to the mall. It’s okay because I can speak Chinese right?
Well, about a month into the semester, I thought I was hot stuff, I could order my food in Chinese, and I could get around campus (the school was about 3 times as big as our Lincoln University). I have been to the park by myself, took the subway and could somewhat navigate (I have a horrible sense of direction, I’ll be honest with myself) and I could have conversations with the people I buy my socks from.
It’s cheaper to keep buying new socks than it is to wash clothes. In the dorms it costs 10 rmb for a coin to wash clothes, and another 10 rmb for that dryer. The lady I went to would sell me socks for 2 rmb a piece. Which mean with the 20 rmb I would use to wash those clothes, I could buy 10 pairs of fresh new socks from the sweat shops or Wal-Mart rather?
But one day, my lack of Chinese proved to me that, I wasn’t the hot cheese. I bought a ticket for the bullet train (this baby gets up to 500 km an hour) and I was going to Suzhou, a smaller city and nicer scenic place about 25 minutes away from Shanghai.
I was going alone to visit one of my friends, and I only had 30 rmb left for food.
(You will quickly learn that I’m a poor college student even in China lol, poor is the new cool)
Fake it till you make it!
The problem was, I was almost late for my train after playing with my iPad, so I ran to my gate (running in China as a foreigner is a stigma, Chinese people think when a foreigner (white included) runs, that means they stole something…) (seriously) and ran through what I thought was my gate, because in my confusion, 合肥 (He Fei) looked like 苏州 (Suzhou). And the security didn’t check my ticket!!!
So I boarded, and relaxed…
Well, Suzhou is only 25 minutes or so away from Shanghai, “why is my train still moving after an hour…”
“Aww damn, I’m so screwed.”
(My parents didn’t even know about this, but they will now, just like my father always calls me)
(I’m the comeback King)
So after I had a major freak out session, and making the person seated next to me very uncomfortable, we arrived, at? He Fei.
“I’m so screwed. I’m so very screwed, I will have to sleep on a bench for the night and call a friend to come get me in the morning”
The thing about God, is that, in this city, in the middle of nowhere, (nice looking but nowhere I’ve ever been) I seen another black guy, maybe he was my black angel, I believe that too!
That dude said “hey bro, you look lost man”
I told him I was broke, no money in my pocket, my friend was supposed to meet me, I’m in the wrong city, I was supposed to go to Suzhou, my mom can’t put money in my account until tomorrow because of the 12 hour difference, I can’t call her, I have to wait until she calls me, (because in Shanghai you have to wait 3 months before you can call internationally, unless your rich and can afford a super expensive, rip-off international plan), and my phone only has 28% battery left.
He thought for a second, and then said, do you want to go to Suzhou, or go back to Shanghai?
(Is this a trick question?) (More wisdom from my father, if your lost, go back the way you started from)
“Back to Shanghai on the double”
So he helped me tremendously, he treated me to KFC in the train station, and charged my phone for a bit, good thing he is an iPhone guy and not Samsung 🙂
Then he bought my ticket back to Shanghai and sent me on my way.
To this day, I wish I was able to thank him properly, and wish him well.
But overall, this was a learning experience, and I realized one thing that’s very important especially being in college.
It just like my parents always told me and my brother, this will be the best advice I can give to anyone travelling to a foreign country:
Thanks for reading, leave a comment to help me further improve my articles in the future.
Stay tuned Part III coming soon!
Categories: Black in Asia