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Born in the UK but now living in Australia, Paul Fox has travelled to many places throughout China. He has seen the lighter side, the darker side, both the gentle and the seedy sides. He documents his experiences and is willing to share them with anyone who wants to listen. He is not afraid to say things exactly how he sees them, and is quite happy to "name and shame" when necessary.
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Life In China. The only 'gay' in the Village. Part 2    

By Paul Fox
316 Views | 6 Comments | 2/11/2019 12:39:35 PM
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Hopefully you've read part 1 of this blog, because it kind-of sets the scene for part 2. You can go read it first here...  



The school semester ended in the afternoon of January 23rd. First thing the next morning I was on a train back to the city I had previously worked in. I was to spend 3 days there before travelling to South Korea with a friend.



I decided to contact a certain friend that I hadn't seen for 2 years, and she was happy to hear from me. She was working but suggested we meet at Starbucks around lunchtime.



I prefer to call 'Starbucks' 'Star (mega) bucks' since their coffee is generally overpriced and I don't think it's particularly good, but I capitulated and agreed to meet my friend there.



Of course she was curious to know everything that had happened to me since we last met, and as I explained it all to her I found her rolling about with laughter. There were at least two occasions when I thought she was going to wet herself - such was her intense laughter.



Now, dear reader, please don't get your hopes up because what I am going to tell you is not that side-splitting, but to my friend, being Chinese, she totally understood what I was re-iterating to her. She later told me that during the 2 hours we spent together she had never laughed so much in all her life.



After what happened in part 1 of this blog, I was unsure if I'd ever be allowed to work in China again. However, a nice lady from a middle/high school contacted me and asked me if I would be prepared to work in her school.



The salary was more than reasonable, and to be honest it comes 'after tax' so what I signed up for is what I actually get each month. On top of that there's a 'free' 3 x bedroom apartment, fully furnished, and they cover all my gas and electricity. In short, all I have to do is turn up and teach (TUAT), and everything is covered. My only expenses are food and other 'essentials' such as copious amounts of alchohol and smokes, in order to relieve the boredom.



It seemed too good to be true, but I took the job because they said they could get me a work permit.



So, to set the scene, I am the only foreign teacher in our school. Not only that, but I am the 3rd foreign teacher to work there. The previous 2 lasted one month each!



Now, after 4 months, I am the longest-serving foreign teacher in the school.



To be honest, I can't really complain. I despise 'fawning', but the way they were all 'fawning' over me like I was some kind-of 'god', was liveable-with, lol.



That said, this job, that seems too good to be true, comes with a very high 'price'.



This 'price' was fully understood by my Chinese friend, and that's why she laughed so much.



OK, so let's get into it...



Not am I the only foreign teacher in our school, I am the ONLY foreigner in this town.



Most of the local residents have never seen a foreigner outside of their TV screen.



Do you remember those old TV 'Western' movies when a stranger walks into a bar and all the patrons immediately stop what they're doing and stare at him? Haha, triple that for a moment.



I'd walk into a supermarket and everyone would stop what they were doing. They'd literally 'freeze' and just gawp at me. I don't just mean customers, but supermarket employees too.



Small children would stare at me and burst into tears - scared shitless that I might 'eat' them or some such nonsense.



I'd get to the checkout and no-one wanted to serve me - all scared to death that they couldn't speak English and maybe I knew no Chinese.



They'd all pretend to be busy doing something else.



The fact is that if it wasn't so pathetically funny, it would be quite un-nerving.



I have lost count of the number of road accidents I have nearly caused just by walking along the street, and I remember laughing loudly when an older guy actually walked into a telegraph pole because he was staring at me instead of looking where he was going.



As the weeks went by I hunted-down all 6 supermarkets in this 'one-horse town'. Same result every time. I actually began to enjoy it. The problem is that none of these 6 supermarkets sell butter or cheese, so I have to travel 2 hours each way to the next town in order to go to Wal-Mart.



90 minutes on a bus, plus a taxi ride means about two hours each way. Plus the 10 minutes in the store seems like a futile waste of time, but for me it's become my monthly 'excursion'.



I daren't put a foot wrong. If I drop a cigarette butt in the wrong place it's not going to be blamed on A foreigner, it's going to be blamed on THE foreigner.



My apartment is awesome, but there are 28 floors in the building and each floor has 4 apartments.



If I get into the lift I NEVER need to press the button because everyone in the building knows which floor I live on.



Maybe they have a group-text thingy - 'Foreigner arriving - don't be scared, but he lives on the 23rd floor - any problems please report immediately'



I may as well have 2 x heads!



It's worse than living in a zoo!



Here's the funny part. My friend asked me, 'Do you have a girlfriend there?'



I burst out laughing. I mean, can you IMAGINE what some poor girl would have to go through if her friends and family found out that she had had dinner with the only foreigner in town?



Jeez, she'd be famous overnight ! She'd probably be on local TV the next day, lol.



"What's he like? Where's he from? (They already know that), How many kids does he have? Is he married? Is he divorced? Why? How many houses does he own? How much does he earn each month?" The list of questions would be endless.



Therefore, the chances of me finding someone in this 'village' with whom to have a relationship, are about zero.



On the flip side, those that know me seem to be kind and gentle people, at least for the most part. There's even one street-cleaning lady who goes out of her way to say Hi to me each morning.



What's that old cliche? "When life deals you lemons, make lemonade'



Welcome to China!


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Comments
(Showing 1 to 6 of 6) 1
#2019-02-11 12:50:16 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

This article has brought back so many memories of my early years in China in 2002 to about 2005. Good memories I might add. I had a lot of fun reading this.

But I don't want to bog this down right now with my old memories. So instead I have some questions to ask. Your answers will lead me to different comments in response.

1. You refer to your location as a "village". In my experience, in China, that could be an urban community as large as 500,000 people.

Q. What is the population of the "village" you are in?

2. If there are 6 "markets" in the village I imagine there are at least 60 bars.

Q. How many bars in that village? 

3. I am guessing that your "village" is between 20,000 and 300,000 people. Roughly half of them are women. Roughly half of those women are over 35. Roughly half of those women are either divorced or married to a guy who treats them like crap. That means that somewhere between 2,500 and 37,500 women are available to you right now to develop a meaningful (in some sense) relationship with.

Q. So why are you whinging like some leftwing libtard about how being the only white guy in your Chinese village is like being a criminal or something? 

4. I know and you know that for many of those women you are like a rockstar. In Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen and all the major Chinese cities being an available white guy has become pretty passe, but in those rural villages where there's only one white guy in town, that cannot be true. Okay, so there's only 10% or so of the population who are interested in you, but for that 10% you are the only guy in town!!!

Excuse my bluntness, but in the past you would have taken full advantage of this rockstar status to get laid a lot by a substantial number of available ladies.

Q. Are you getting to that place (where I have been for at least a dozen years) where you are genuinely looking for a relationship where mutual love, caring, warmth, desire, friendship, passion and honesty matters, and "getting laid" is somewhat secondary? For clarity, "making love" is important, but "getting laid" has lost it's shine. 

I have other questions, and your answer to these questions will probably instill in me even more questions, but let's see what comes of these.

I am not kidding when I say that this maybe one of the most meaningful and educational blogs you have ever written. 

I look forward to your responses. (clap)(clap)(clap)

#2019-02-11 13:14:38 by paulfox1 @paulfox1


@JohnAbbot

I'll respond to your questions first -

1. You refer to your location as a "village". In my experience, in China, that could be an urban community as large as 500,000 people.

Q. What is the population of the "village" you are in?

According to information available, around 700,000. There are 6,100 students in my school.

2. If there are 6 "markets" in the village I imagine there are at least 60 bars. John, that's 'logical thinking' mate. We ARE discussing China, lol.

Q. How many bars in that village? Couple of KTVs, but I have not found even just one 'bar'

3. I am guessing that your "village" is between 20,000 and 300,000 people. Roughly half of them are women. Roughly half of those women are over 35. Roughly half of those women are either divorced or married to a guy who treats them like crap. That means that somewhere between 2,500 and 37,500 women are available to you right now to develop a meaningful (in some sense) relationship with. Yes, I agree. However, they all seem to be scared shitless. No-one you meet in your daily-life speaks English

Q. So why are you whinging like some leftwing libtard about how being the only white guy in your Chinese village is like being a criminal or something? Why do you think I'm whinging? I told you that I actually find it very amusing. The only thing I would ever whinge about is the boredom.

4. I know and you know that for many of those women you are like a rockstar. In Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen and all the major Chinese cities being an available white guy has become pretty passe, but in those rural villages where there's only one white guy in town, that cannot be true. Okay, so there's only 10% or so of the population who are interested in you, but for that 10% you are the only guy in town!!! John, you know full well that I am exceedingly handsome and that I look at least 10 years younger than my age. Therefore, your pathetic figure of 10% pales into the depths of fake reality. I would certainly put that figure at much closer to 11% or even 12% (rofl)

Q. Are you getting to that place (where I have been for at least a dozen years) where you are genuinely looking for a relationship where mutual love, caring, warmth, desire, friendship, passion and honesty matters, and "getting laid" is somewhat secondary? For clarity, "making love" is important, but "getting laid" has lost it's shine. 

This question goes a little deeper than you may realise. 'Getting laid' in this QTV is not really an option for reasons that should be obvious. It's highly unlikely that a Chinese 'country bumpkin' is going to have a one-night-stand with the local 'rock star'. You know what Asian people are like when it comes to 'face'.

Secondly, sure, I am open to a long-time loving relationship, but finding someone with mutual interests has become much, much harder since I 'awoke' to the reality we all live in. I don't imagine there are too many females in my QTV with the same mindset as our 'Autumn' here on CLM

 

 

#2019-02-11 14:18:33 by melcyan @melcyan

 Paul, I really enjoyed reading this blog. It brought back many good memories for me. I knew you were going to be the only Westerner in the village.

 

Even though my time in China has been limited,  a combined total of14 weeks in all, I know what it is like to be the only Westerner on a bus or in an apartment block or in a supermarket. However, I only became self-conscious about it when I was the only Westerner in a tour group. There is the advantage that no one is tall enough to block your view but being the tour group "mascot" who is included in almost every photo taken by every tour group member can be tiresome.

#2019-02-11 14:46:19 by paulfox1 @paulfox1


@melcyan

Haha, you reminded me of something I forgot to mention in the article, and that's the amount of times I see someone trying to take a 'sneaky' picture of me. When I DO notice I usually deliberately make a 'pose' for them. I emphasise that pose in stupid ways so that the 'offender' knows they've been 'caught'. I love it, lol.

Then, of course, on the odd occasion when I go to a restaurant there's always someone who wants to have their photo taken along with me in the picture. This is the 'rock-star' analogy that John mentioned. Hilarious !

#2019-02-12 12:23:47 by Barry1 @Barry1


@paulfox1

 

A good article, thanks Paul.

 

I know what you're going through.  For the year or so that I lived in China, in a smallish rural town, often I'd strike the same thing. I remember for example walking to a market one day, when I had to venture past a group of male taxi drivers chattering on the sidewalk.  As I approached, at 187cms tall, the group quickly fell silent and I was gawked at by every driver there as I as casually as possibly sauntered by.

 

Many other such examples could be given. Let me say though to every Westerner reading this that incidences like this don't happen much until you get into the TRADITIONAL areas of the country. The rural regions, off the beaten track.  Those Westerners who simply visit the normal touristy spots won't experience much of this, as a thousand Werstern tourists already would have preceded them. Familiarity breeds apathy. They probably don't know what we're talking about.

 

Good work, Paul!  (y)

 

 

#2019-02-12 13:24:48 by oldghost @oldghost

@paul Since I usually travel in the provincial towns and cities I can certainly relate to being the only laowai in town; it may also depend on time of year, since few choose to venture to China in deep winter.  In towns like Anshan, Tai'an, even Harbin (although all rugged and masked up, beanie scarf and all it is hard to tell) ! I never encountered another laowai.  In winter Chongqing Jilin, and Hankou this was true too

In shops, particularly ChinaComm, I see the staff scuttle off rapidly when I walk in -  they are trying to pass the buck in whispers to anyone else.  In Chaoshi since I immediately flash my smartphone and indicate the Weixin QR-code I have no problem.

I also encounter a mindset when I speak Chinese - since I am blue eyes ipso facto the words I speak are English or foreign - until I ask them 'ni zenme hui ting bu dong zhongwen' then the penny drops.

Except on trains no one really remarks on this old foreigner treading the streets.  whereas 20 years ago there was always an outcry from the children I encountered.  There are still occasional tears from the very young on seeing this ugly old ghost.

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