The Inner Mongolian China Brog

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

You know you're in China when...

Jacob sent us all a fantastically humorous "You know you're in China when..." list, so for your entertainment, though I realize it can't possibly be as funny to other people as it is to us, here are a few of my favorites:

You might be in China if...
  • you forget what clean smells like.
  • you barely flinch when you see a small child emptying his bowels in the street.
  • a cup of coffee costs more than ten times a bottle of beer.
  • you find yourself crying over a menu in a western restaurant because they serve potato salad.
  • you spend less than 10RMB on a fully satisfying lunch, but might end up eating at a table with 4 strangers.
  • you carry a supply of TP with you everywhere you go.
  • you know how to use a squatter.
  • you know what a squatter is.
  • grown men and women often say hello to you, and when you reply they run away giggling.
  • you can't decide if you love or hate the country you're living in.
  • you see nothing wrong with standing on a white stripe in the middle of a highway while cars whiz past you at 90kph.
  • it seems completely normal that some guy on a tricycle wants to buy your garbage.
  • you don't blink an eye when a complete stranger wants to take a photo of you with his family.
  • you use Kleenex for table napkins.
  • you drink warm sodas and find them refreshing.
  • you are accustomed to seeing people's heads popping up and down in the VCD you are watching.
  • you know what a VCD is.
  • you buy a movie that hasn't been released theatrically yet at home...
  • you complain about the price of chocolate bars...
  • when you can get ANYTHING to eat on a stick.
  • when you are constantly asked if you think simple foods and beverages are delicious. "This is the best boiled water ever!" "fantastic seeds!"
  • you take it in stride when you are offered beer/baijiu at lunch before going back to work.
  • you can play charades so well that it is often not necessary to talk (due to lack of chinese when you arrive)
  • an entire class looks at you with a blank face when you ask them to try and discover something on their own, rather than you just telling them the answer.
  • most of the club stops dancing to watch in fear/horror when you actually start to shake your thing.
  • you make a scheduled trip to KFC weekly to buy them out of mashed potatoes!
  • you have learned to enjoy being stared at.
  • almost anything can be "fixed"
  • you have a jar full of "fen" at home.
  • you give a beggar a handfull of fen and he gives them back.
  • you can buy a NEW bicycle for US $17.
  • people offer you a stool to sit on when you stop in front of a shop.
  • you don't blink your green eyes or shake your very brunette head when someone compliments you on your blue-eyed blondness.
  • Nescafe instant with edible oil product topping IS cappuccino.
  • when you go shopping for clothes or shoes you often find that they don't have what you want in a size that will fit your big foreign frame. Instead they offer you something bigger and uglier and think it's a fair compromise.
  • you have ten different responses to the question, "Do you like China?"
  • you point out foreigners to your Chinese friends even though you're foreign yourself.
  • you answer 'China' when people ask where you're from.
  • you answer 'China' when people ask where you live.
  • you no longer wonder if that guy who's up his nose to the second knuckle is drilling for oil or scratching his brain.
  • SARS doesn't worry you; 4% chance of death is considerably lower than eating the food, breathing the air, riding a bicycle or listening to bad KTV.
  • you don't have any idea what something is, but you'll eat it anyway.
  • if you just ate and liked it, you don't ask what it is.
  • you have strict mental rules as to when you reply to a hello (ie person must be within a 20 foot semi circle radius and not with a group of men).
  • you completely ignore most people who say hello to you.
  • you see a woman with dyed hair and try to figure out of she's Chinese or foreign by walking fast to catch up.
  • you know what it is and you eat it anyway.
  • nobody blames it on the dog.
  • the open sewer next to your school smells better than the canteen food.
  • the open sewer next to your school tastes better than the canteen food.
  • you convince yourself that it doesn't matter how dirty the cooks' hands are, cooking will fix it.
  • you are becoming proficient in 4 other languages: Mandarin, local dialect, Chinglish, and gibberish.
  • if there are only 4 screaming children running around the classroom, you consider it a good primary class.
  • if you're only mocked in public 4 times, you consider it a good day.
  • you love tofu because there's nothing to spit out and it doesn't have any taste.
  • you know exactly what CS is. (Diana's note: CS is Counter Strike - the dumbest computer game every teenage boy here is obsessed with)
  • you're curiously nonplussed when children stick their finger up your bum.
  • smoking does less harm to your lungs than breathing.
  • you call polluted water and preservatives wine.
  • living in a 'clean' city means living in one where you won't mutate. At least not immediately.
  • you point over your back with your thumb when using the past tense.
  • your Chinese friends have such revolting breath you wonder if they secretly eat turds.
  • you've learned that it's okay to be 3 days/weeks late for appointments because everyone else is.
  • every village is different from the rest of China but all foreigners are the same.
  • everyone wants to be your friend - all you have to do is teach them English for free.
  • everyone wants to teach you Chinese by speaking to you in English.
  • you tell people you don't understand, so they write it for you - in Chinese.
  • at the beach women wear bulky swimsuits from the 1950's while men wear speedos
  • men apparently smuggle olives in these speedos.
  • a hike up a mountain calls for a plastic grocery bag full of junk food. Later you add to the scenery by littering the ground.
  • you love and hate children at the same time.
  • grown men think it's ****ing hilarious to say hello. Hello, haha! I'm a stupid git, hellooo, haha! Me and my mentally-arrested-at-age-13 buddies like a say hellooo, haha! Foreigners go around saying hellooo in high pitched voices like me, hello, haha! I just bought a VCD of nothing but people saying hello, I wet myself laughing! Hellooo, haha!
  • you walk into a bar on Friday night at 11.00pm and you are the only one there.
  • you start thinking instant coffee tastes pretty good.
  • no one cares if you wear the same clothes all month.
  • absolutely everything that can possibly be eaten is in some way good for your health.
  • KTV becomes interesting.
  • warm beer becomes drinkable.
  • apples are the size of pumpkins.
  • you daren't have a salad 'cause you know what it was fertilised with.
  • only five minutes of prep time for a unannounced class no longer fazes you.
  • you actually believe you're here to teach English.
  • at English Corner (aka English Speaker Cornered) a person asks you how to "improve my oral English" and when you tell them the only way is to continually practice they walk away dejected and sad.
  • you plan to ask students questions they must form their own answers to and you bring reading material along to occupy your time during the long silence that fills the period between you asking the question and the first hand that tenatively rises.
  • you no longer expect the truth.

And that's only a fraction of the whole list! I chose these particular points because they're TRUE - I didn't put anything in this post that I haven't actually experienced, so chew on that (and then suck and pick at your teeth to be more Chinese about it).

For the complete list, go to


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