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Rhys Sylvan is completely new to overseas living and Asian culture. In the USA, he was operating an internet sales business, which he has put on hold for now. Currently in China for the first time, he met his Chinese girlfriend on CLM and is currently getting to know her and her family in Nantong. His blogs will focus on his own personal experiences as he tries to adapt to the new environment as well as exploring a few different places in China.
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Hail to the Chef    

By Rhys Sylvan
3826 Views | 6 Comments | 6/1/2010 10:39:31 PM
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I arrived in Nantong on a cold afternoon of early April. After my limited experience with Shanghai, it was a big change. The Nantong buildings had more dirt and grime than the structures I saw in Shanghai. There was quite a bit of dust in the air. The shops were different also, most of them facing out toward the street with no doors to keep out the cold. They had the equivalent of garage doors, which would be shut at the end of business each night.

This was still a pretty big city by American standards, maybe a million or more people living in Nantong and its suburbs. Of course, most residents of Shanghai consider Nantong to be the countryside, they think it's a town of hillbilly farmers.

After my arrival, the first order of business was to meet my new girlfriend's parents. I was quite nervous. Fortunately, my Chinese girlfriend Kate knows English, so she was a translator between her parents and me. I was quite surprised how accomodating Kate's mother was. Not only did she help Kate get me an apartment (even fronting the first 3 months rent), but she also prepared bed linen and some kitchen items I might need. When I mentioned to Kate that the bed was a bit stiffer than us westerners are accustomed to, the next day her mother quickly brought more padding.

I spent the first couple weeks learning the way around the city and meeting a few people. I met a nice Australian guy and his girlfriend. Kate and I usually meet them on the weekends for chatting at the bar, which is funny, because the four of us generally consume very little alcohol. There are two bars that foregners frequently visit, Tiger Tiger bar and Captain's Bar. Captain is a bit higher class, serving a variety of lunch and dinner items and various mixed drinks. Tiger is your basic beer bar and more casual. There is also Jungle Bar, but it's in a much more secluded location if you are traveling from the main part of town.

Another rather interesting hangout was Chef Richard's Cafe. The only way to describe it was "Hard Rock Cafe" in China. The owner was Australian and obviously was inspired by the Hard Rock Cafe. Trademark laws for the most part are not enforced in China, so he was free to copy "Hard Rock" down to the last detail, including the logo style and the musical photos decorating the walls. Unfortunately, the business did not make enough profit and couldn't draw enough chinese customers, so it closed down and most of the contents were sold. A pity, because they had quite good pasta and Indian style food. The owner moved back to Australia a few weeks ago.

KFC is quite popular in Nantong, just as it seems to be in much of China. I counted about 6 KFC restaurants in just the central downtown area of Nantong (about 8 square blocks). There is also a McDonalds and Pizza Hut located in the downtown area.

After settling into my apartment and learning my way to a few popular restaurants, I began to focus on a few more things. I needed some transportation and a job to sustain myself while I am here. Depending on your situation, dating a Chinese lady can be a lot of work, but I really think it's worth it in the end.

Next: Cultural clashes and differences you may not expect

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(Showing 1 to 6 of 6) 1
#2010-06-02 20:39:08 by tinan9690 @tinan9690

haha,sounds nice! Welcome to China,and jiangsu province.

#2010-06-02 22:59:06 by singleuk @singleuk

I look forward to the next instalment.

#2010-06-18 00:04:07 by igg @igg

A sensitive man, wish you good luck!

#2010-08-02 01:25:37 by rob2010 @rob2010

great info, thank you for sharing, more and more often please

#2010-09-11 13:17:34 by way21 @way21

quiet different places between nantong and shanghai.
haha~ but have to take care all the costly things in china.
many thieves in china.
nomally all the foreigers tried to sole money or phone or computer in china.

#2011-04-24 02:47:52 by blakbear454 @blakbear454

Very interesting on many levels. Can't wait for the next installment. I'm planning a trip to China in September so your experiences are particularly relevant to me. Thanks for sharing.

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