Stickman Readers' Submissions August 28th, 2014

Is Living in China a Better Proposition? Part 2

Ramblings continued


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Just like in Thailand, foreigners in China are tolerated as a necessary evil. Laowais (Chinese term for Farangs) will never be fully accepted in Chinese society. If you are male and single and looking for romance or other carnal activities then I suggest you save your money and have holidays to Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia or Vietnam.

There is very little casual dating in China. If you do end up with a Chinese girl you will be in the minority. There is an almost instant expectation of marriage and starting a family, if you are accepted by the girl’s parents of course. Chinese girls need to get married before they are 28 years old. If unmarried when they reach that age they are termed “leftover ladies” and no respectable Chinese guy would want them. Parents of these girls will reluctantly accept a foreigner as long as he intends marrying her quickly. So the 28-year plus segment of the market is where foreigners can find some success. However, beware that there is still the expectation that you will provide a home and car and have an acceptable salary with good future earning potential. Buying an apartment in Shanghai is as expensive as buying one in Sydney. Add to that 22 million people, bad air, suspect food safety standards, patience-testing road behaviour and you must have undying love for the girl you are with to contemplate adapting to this environment.

If this scares you off but you still desire female interaction then there are options. There are many bars and clubs catering to foreigners frequented by Chinese girls and other Asian girls. No respectable Chinese girl would go to these bars so you can imagine the type of girls you will meet in these establishments. If the interaction is too easy then beware the carnal pleasures may not be free. Additionally the women here are of dubious quality (this mean very average to ugly).

If you want to go out and have fun without the pretentious courting rituals then there are some bars that are P4P. Prostitution is illegal in China but just like other Asian countries authorities mostly turn a blind eye to these activities. Girls in these bars are mainly Vietnamese, who appear to have no problems getting Chinese visas, and a smattering of Filipina grandmas with the odd ugly Chinese girl who is not aware she is ugly. There are many other bars which only have Chinese girls but beware bill padding is an epidemic in many of these bars and a night out may cost you a fortune. Additionally there is no guarantee that you can carry on with extras with these girls as they're primarily there to ensure you spend all you money buying drinks. Of course as mentioned before no self respecting Chinese girl would ever work in these bars so you can imagine the quality of women you will be confronted with.

I have to admit that during my time in Shanghai I have developed a fond appreciation of Vietnamese girls. Many are beautiful and fun to be with even though the standard of English is next to none. However, just like other bargirls they are there for money and not love. I do not find most Chinese girls attractive. There are exceptions but that's just my personal tastes.

There are many massage parlors in China which will service foreigners and provide the same menu of services, some discreetly other not so discreet, that you can get in Thailand. But while the massage itself is excellent the quality of women is at the lower end of the spectrum.

So let’s get down to the cost. I will use Thai Baht equivalent to make it easy. A full body oil massage including extras can range between B3,000 and B6,000 for 90 minutes, depending on what extras you want. Once again I stress these girls are generally old and fairly average looking. For girls in bars expect to pay around B5,000 for a short time and around B12,000 for all night. Chinese girls are much more expensive because they are Chinese – crazy logic but true. So you can see seeking carnal pleasures is not cheap in China. Fortunately for me Philippines and Vietnam are only 3½ hours away and Thailand is just over 4 hours away.

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Who can speak English?

One thing that I was confronted with instantly is the fact that not many people in China can or want to speak English. I expected this to be the case in regional areas but was surprised to see this in big cities also. Taxi drivers are a classic example. In many Asian countries if you tell a taxi driver the name of a hotel in English many will understand. In China English names mean nothing. If you don’t know the Chinese name then you go nowhere. Even now I still have to get my Chinese colleagues to write hotel names in Chinese so I can show taxi drivers.

The challenges continue in bars, restaurants, coffee shops, hotels etc. China is still grappling with the concept of providing good customer service therefore customer service is lousy here. The lack of any decent English skills is frustrating but when you add to that no understanding of how to service customers effectively then you must be blessed with incredible patience to adapt to this culture. You would expect that 5 star establishments would be immune to this service problem but I suggest you lower those expectations when you come to China.

In the work environment I was even more surprised with the lack of English and I work for a US company. Many can read and write English but are too embarrassed to speak as they do not believe they are at a proficient level. While I must be very careful not to hurt their feelings or make them lose face by embarrassing them in front or their colleagues when I correct their English, it is perfectly ok for them to laugh openly at my Chinese.

Work ethic

Prior to coming to China I was led to believe that Chinese people are extremely hard working and possess superior intellect then us dopey, lazy westerners. Well, as I mentioned in my previous submission, Chinese are opportunists and the work place is a classic example. If they can get away with doing little work then they will. In fact in an 8-hour day 2 hours will be allocated to work related activities and 6 hours to chatting with friends, surfing the internet or accessing Taobao (China’s equivalent to eBay). Apparently this behavior is quite common in Chinese culture and readily accepted as part of doing business in China.

The talent pool of workers in China especially for commercial roles is very limited. Business in China is very simple. Unless you have a product which is in high demand or has not been copied by local manufacturers yet then you compete on price. Quality and other value propositions are a distant second in any negotiation. In Chinese culture you don’t question your superiors; you just do as you are told. Therefore workers need to be told what to do and how to do it. Once this is clear then you can be assured that they will do a good job.

Oh I have gone way over my 800 word limit. I will need a part 3.

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