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China expat report

Post your trip reports, travel experiences, and updates abroad. Or your expat story if you already live overseas. Note: To post photos and images, insert the image URL between the tags [img]and[/img] after uploading them to a third party site.

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China expat report

Postby Seeker » Wed Sep 10, 2014 7:26 pm

China expat report

1. INTRO
I came to China a year and a half ago, I’ve been living and working in China’s wealthiest province in a “smallâ€￾ city of a million people. I was greeted at Shanghai by a smiling young woman who was my first introduction to my new home. As we drove home my first impressions was that this part of China at least is a developed place, with wide clean, good quality roads (you can tell a lot about a country from this one point alone) and houses that were not falling apart. In terms of GDP/capita and HDI my home province compares favourably to some Central European countries (I say this not without a certain pride at my new home) and it shows in the clustering skyscrapers lining the streets like canyons and the hordes of new cars. I hardly saw a single cheap car in the place other than the taxis.

My apartment was relatively spacious and clean , far better than what I had in Bangkok, even the bathroom seemed Western style with the shower in a separate, closed off compartment (which I’ve heard is rare in China), the rooms were big, and each bedroom had a proper spring mattress. I had no rent and no other bills to pay, everything was provided for, cutting out a large part of the expenses I would have had to pay in England. It was February and as cold as my own country that time of year, so I didn’t get the same feeling of being away that I had in the tropics. I was taken down to the office where I met the Director of Studies, a nice old Canadian man with one wooden leg and a much younger wife and baby. We talked about what I would be doing here and it was decided that I would teach physics. Later he took me to eat at KFC, (Chinese LOVE KFC for some reason). It’s a sign of how small my city is that it has no McDonalds but about three KFCs.

For those first few days and the weekend there was no one around other than myself and my old friend, so I spent most of my time at home, sometimes I ventured outside the huge campus just to see what I could find. My first somewhat unpleasant experience was noticing how Chinese people like to “greetâ€￾ foreigners with their “hello!â€￾ I quickly learned never to bother to reply to this because they would not understand it anyway. In this place, there are probably less foreigners than I can count on two hands, so I got used to being stared at everywhere I went. There was scarcely a single thing I could eat at first glance so I ended up living on bread, cheese and precooked chicken which I heated in my microwave. I didn’t cook at all for my first 8 months here, which in retrospect makes me wonder how I coped.

2. WORK

My job is, for me, very easy and stress free, I’ve taught science, English, physics and calculus to 17-19 year olds who want to study abroad. I get on well with the students and other teachers. On average I teach 7:30 hours a week, that’s 5 double classes of 45 minutes each. The most I’ve ever taught is 10 doubles and that was for little more than a month. The rest of the time I’m just chilling out in the office sometimes doing a bit of marking. Altogether I ‘m at work for less than 30 hours a week and have 12 weeks of paid holidays a year, for a salary comparable to that of a decent paying full time job in the UK. The downside is it’s a waste of my talents and I’m never remotely challenged intellectually, nor will it ever make me rich (how jobs do?). Having heard the endless tales of foreigners being screwed over again and again I’ve been relatively fortunate never to have been cheated over my pay.

A foreigner can make a decent living here as a teacher, especially if one can teach a subject, and doubly (even triply) so if one is a qualified teacher in one’s own country. The vast majority of expats here are teachers of some sort, with a handful of engineers and a smidgeon of foreign executives and diplomats. Jobs aside there are vast business opportunities in China for those with the eyes to see them and the drive to exploit them, speaking Chinese is a huge advantage here and a local business partner is essential. Two ideas immediately come to mind, setting up a private school, and “copyingâ€￾ an expensive Western product in a Chinese factory and selling it to Western companies.

3. WOMEN

The reason you all want to move is it not? I’ve lived in England, the Philippines and Thailand of all those countries I have never had the reaction from women that I’ve had in China. Perhaps it would be better to begin with a self-description. I’m a 34 year old South Asian guy of Pakistani origin, I’d describe myself in the above average range compared to young Western men in their prime (18-25 or 18-30 at the most), not in the top 20% anymore but perhaps in the middle of the next highest quintile, I look around mid to late 20s by Western standards, Asians in particular tend to think I’m younger than I actually am. I seem to have certain traits that particularly appeal to Asian women like feminine looking eyes and long, curled, “girlyâ€￾ eyelashes, that combined with an above average height for Asians and a lithe, slim but muscular body type that appeals to them seems to make me move up a tier compared to what I am back in England. Or is this just my perception and am I just experiencing the same as an above average local man experiences here?

I’ve never been one to aggressively pursue women, they’ve always found me whether in real life or online. I do not cold approach nor do I take a very high opinion of those who pester women in public places while they’re just going about their business, it’s the overly aggressive cold approaching of some men that leads to women being so defensive and even hostile towards men they don’t know. They act like that in order to ward off potential threats. Imagine being in an environment in which you are prey, imagine having to look as big and as threatening as possible in order to scare away potential threats, those of you who were picked on at school will remember what that was like, that’s how many women feel when cold approached in public. One of the things I admire about Asian men is that they rarely pester women in public, especially East Asian men.
Regarding how women treated me, I got checked out wherever I went, more than half of my female Chinese co-workers expressed an attraction towards me at some point, on a dating site I would average around 10 new interests a day, a female gym instructor who couldn’t speak English would almost always try to get my attention by bending over to display her fine ass right in front of me, I experienced my first (triracial) threesome, I got hit on in clubs, one woman in Hainan took one look at me on webcam and asked me to go there in order to sleep with her etc. etc. I could go on but you get the picture…

The biggest obstacle for is, by far, the language barrier. Most people speak no English at all, most who do speak some English cannot have the most basic conversation with you. Learning even basic Chinese will benefit you enormously when it comes to women.

Will you get the same experience yourself? Maybe, maybe not. China seems to be very hit or miss for foreign men. I would go so far to say that most men may have it worse here than they do in their own countries. Consider on this forum alone, Professor, Magic, ph_visitor, Taco, Ghost, all of these report having had no luck with Chinese women. Professor and Magic independently said that around half or more of foreign men could not get Chinese women at all, I remember Professor telling me that whenever a foreigner got a Chinese girlfriend he was regarded with such awe and wonder as if he had captured a unicorn, “yo he got a Chinese girlfriend!â€￾, “what’s his secret?! How did he do that?â€￾. The inability to get women in China was a common topic among foreign men, indeed when asked the thing they missed the most from back home the number one answer was “sex, womenâ€￾, one good looking young man found that all he could get was this haggard looking married woman 20 years his senior who he soon became obsessed with. Another fairly good looking guy complained, “I haven’t gotten laid in months, this never happened to me back home!â€￾.
I’ve read several accounts of men having Chinese “girlfriendsâ€￾ who never let them have sex with them, who never expressed affection, and even who never let them touch them at all. Personally I’ve only met one foreigner with a genuinely good looking (8/10 or higher) girlfriend and he’s a tall, young, good looking guy himself who would have no trouble with women anywhere.

So why the disparity between some men’s experiences and others? I suggest that negative experiences are far more common than they are reported, and most men simply do not want to talk about them due to shame and embarrassment. Some of the positive reports are certainly exaggerated and full of the bragging so beloved of Anglo men. I believe the most common experience is far closer to the negative stories than it is believed to be on forums like this.

4. FOOD

This is a matter of personal taste, most foreigners I know like Chinese food very much, many even consider it their favourite. Personally I’ve never been so unhappy with the local fare as I am in China. Many things they make seem to have a uniquely “Chineseâ€￾ taste to them, which to me is virtually always unappealing. When they grill meat they often grill it over some tin foil and smother the meat in vegetable oil so it tastes oily and lacks the taste of a real grill. I never once enjoyed a good steak in China, they do not know how to cook meat at all. Due to their love of chopsticks they like to cut their meat small enough so it can be grasped by them, but the meat itself is often bony due to their belief that the meat closest to the bone is the best part. They also have a unique habit of serving drinks warm, their love of warm drinks is so obsessive that they even serve warm water in the height of summer. If you want a cold drink you generally have to request it. This due to a completely false belief that drinking warm drinks aids digestion. Despite over 6 decades of Communist rule and official atheism, absurd superstitions abound in the Middle Kingdom.
China has been shut off from the outside world for so long that they have not adapted international standards of how food and drink ought to be and how they are nearly everywhere else. It’s as if they’ve decided collectively, “This is our way, our way is superior, we will not take on barbarous foreign customs!â€￾.

Tasty food was easy to find in the Philippines and especially Thailand, which has great food at a cheap price, Thailand in particular has a “Thaiâ€￾ style of making food that seems to improve everything it touches, quite in contrast to the Chinese way which ruins everything it touches.
I found barely 2 dishes I liked in over 18 months in China and none of them compare with what I can enjoy in other countries. Due to this I’ve mostly eaten home cooked food.

5. CHARACTER

What is the defining character of Chinese? What one thing describes them best? If I had to pick one defining characteristic it would be the concept of mianzi, or face. Basically, face is one’s reputation, what others think of you. Some things add to face, some things detract from it. A Chinese friend will show consideration to you by not embarrassing you and praising you to others. In order to “save faceâ€￾ to those of lower status a higher status Chinese man will downplay his own achievements and abilities when in the company of others. This is in complete antithesis to the Western attitude which revels in bragging, exaggeration and one-upmanship, I believe that PUAs have a term for it, AMOG standing for “Alpha Male Other Guy “ which refers to putdowns meant to lower the perceived status, or face, of other men while in the company of women. Chinese culture is free of this vile rubbish but it is not itself without flaws. Lying is considered acceptable here and being caught in a lie does not appear to be a shameful thing. The general tendency is to project a good appearance while paying less regard to how a person or a thing actually functions or is like. One even sees this tendency in their buildings which look impressive but often have serious, even dangerous flaws in their design, in their bodies that look clean but emit the foulest breath you have ever smelt, (it’s smells as if some of them are rotting inside), the lack of respect for contracts and many other things.

6. INTERNET

This is my biggest gripe with living in China. The Internet is absurdly restricted by the Communist Party to the extent that things as basic as YouTube, Facebook, WordPress and BlogSpot cannot be viewed without a VPN. China is very badly connected to the outside world so foreign websites are painfully slow. In recent months, Google has suffered a serious crackdown making Gmail very slow and Google Play virtually unusable, making it almost impossible to download new Android apps to my phone. Even Google search is so slow that I’ve been forced to switch to Bing. Under such constraints I even find myself longing for the Internet in the Philippines, imagine that! I’d be very impressed with Google if they could develop technology that enabled them to get through or bypass the Great Firewall of Zhonguo

More to come...
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Postby Bao3niang » Wed Sep 10, 2014 8:25 pm

I somewhat disagree with the women part. In Beijing I saw many, many foreigners dating Chinese women (almost all were whites though). Both young guys and older guys. Even in a heavily Westernized, workaholic city. In fact, for quite a period of time ALL I saw were Chinese female / foreign male couples in the area that I lived.

In my apartment there lived a Chinese woman and his Ghanian husband. They have two children, one son, one daughter. The female had pretty dark skin herself though (no racism).
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Postby zboy1 » Wed Sep 10, 2014 8:47 pm

Hmnn...I think it depends: I've met bitter, disappointed foreigners in China who could not get any women, and I've met playboys. I think, just like in the West, 'looks, status, and money' plays a huge part in attracting women in China.

Most Chinese women still seek out Chinese or Asian men, mostly. I also liked the fact that Chinese women did not reject their Asian ethnicity--unlike, Asian American women.But foreigners can still do well here...

I think China is one of those countries where each person has a vastly different experience in the country, unlike, say...the Philippines or Colombia. Opinions of China are so varied, with some people terribly unsuccessful and other's content.

When I was in China, I was somewhat in-between; I never really had any problems with dating Chinese women, but I didn't act like a playboy either-- because I despise mongers and PUAs, and I consider myself a conservative person, by nature.
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Postby KokujinKrusader » Wed Sep 10, 2014 9:50 pm

I agree with much of what the OP said, except for foreigners having trouble with Chinese women. Most foreigners that I encountered may have had dry spells, but they did rather well; much better than they would back in their own countries. The exception would be Black men, but even then there were some brothas that were pulling at least 6's and 7's (in clubs mostly), and I did much better than I had expected too.

Funny that you mention long eyelashes. There were many women in Taiwan that commented specifically about my eyelashes, and that may explain why I didn't completely strike out in Mainland as would be expected for a Black man.
Last edited by KokujinKrusader on Sun Sep 14, 2014 7:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Ghost » Thu Sep 11, 2014 5:31 am

I have already figured out why some have lots of trouble with the women, while others get women like crazy. It all has to do with where you are, something I didn't realize when I left. And this is exactly why I will be very careful when I choose my next location in China.

Also, obviously learning Mandarin is vital, or at least the more you learn the more successful you will be.
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Postby chanta76 » Thu Sep 11, 2014 2:48 pm

zboy1,

Do you speak Chinese? I mean if I remember your Korean-American. How much can someone get by in China in only english?
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Postby zboy1 » Thu Sep 11, 2014 5:23 pm

chanta76 wrote:zboy1,

Do you speak Chinese? I mean if I remember your Korean-American. How much can someone get by in China in only english?


I only speak a smidgen of Chinese but you don't need to know any Chinese for you to get Chinese women; some Chinese women speak good enough English to get by...
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Postby Seeker » Fri Sep 12, 2014 6:30 am

Ghost wrote:I have already figured out why some have lots of trouble with the women, while others get women like crazy. It all has to do with where you are, something I didn't realize when I left. And this is exactly why I will be very careful when I choose my next location in China.

Also, obviously learning Mandarin is vital, or at least the more you learn the more successful you will be.


Location may be a factor, I've consistently heard that South Chinese women are easier to get than North or East Chinese women, why that is I'm not sure. Years ago I was advised that Guangzhou and Shenzhen would be a particularly good fit for me due to the amount of single women there. The more interior regions of South China like Guizhou, Hunan and Yunnan would probably be even better. That said, I doubt that someone is going to go from incel to a regular dating life just by changing location within China.
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Postby Seeker » Fri Sep 12, 2014 6:42 am

KokujinKrusader wrote:I agree with much of what the OP said, except for foreigners having trouble with Chinese women. Most foreigners that I encountered may have had dry spells, but they did rather well; much better than they would back in their own countries. The exception would be Black men, but even then there were some brothas that were pulling at least 6's and 7's (in clubs mostly), and I did much better than I had expected too.


Your experience doesn't sound too different to other above average guys in China. Looks as if your blackness didn't hurt you as much as you thought it would. I can't explain why some foreign men seem to move up a tier in desirability in China while others move down.
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Postby Ghost » Fri Sep 12, 2014 6:22 pm

Seeker wrote:
Ghost wrote:I have already figured out why some have lots of trouble with the women, while others get women like crazy. It all has to do with where you are, something I didn't realize when I left. And this is exactly why I will be very careful when I choose my next location in China.

Also, obviously learning Mandarin is vital, or at least the more you learn the more successful you will be.


Location may be a factor, I've consistently heard that South Chinese women are easier to get than North or East Chinese women, why that is I'm not sure. Years ago I was advised that Guangzhou and Shenzhen would be a particularly good fit for me due to the amount of single women there. The more interior regions of South China like Guizhou, Hunan and Yunnan would probably be even better. That said, I doubt that someone is going to go from incel to a regular dating life just by changing location within China.


I don't know why that is, either. But yes, location undoubtedly plays a part in it. Here's the thing, though. China, for the most part, is still traditional. You have a wife class and a whore class. It isn't perfectly divided, but that is generally how it is.

China is highly resistant to mongering. Many places would be strait-up un-mongerable. And this is great for those who are seeking marriage. Now I have no doubt that if you pick the right location and are serious in searching for a wife, virtually any foreigner will find success eventually.

But if you're looking to slut up women? No one will give you the time of day. There are plenty of whores and (fortunately) only a few sluts. Otherwise, you need to be wife-hunting.
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Postby Seeker » Tue Sep 16, 2014 1:15 pm

7. SOCIAL LIFE

A social circle is essential here especially if you speak no Chinese, if you're lucky you'll have a good group of foreign coworkers to go out and shoot the shit with. Most foreigners here have degrees and are somewhat above average in intelligence and knowledge, though there are an a number who are totally incompetent at their jobs and drink enough to put a Russian to shame. Chinese are very friendly, probably even more so than Filipinos or Thais but the language barrier precludes them from conversation. If you can speak passable Mandarin even at a basic level you are a treasure to them, many Chinese are proud to show off their foreign friends because of the "face" it gives them. A lot of Chinese are just genuinely fascinated by foreigners, for example at the supermarket people look first at me and then proceed to analyse the contents of my shopping trolley, "what strange, alien food is the laowai eating?!". :lol: At the gym I worked out at I would get stared at while attempting a decent lift, I recall a time a few months ago when someone wanted to film while I was doing a 170 kg deadlift, which while a decent lift is nothing remarkable and never attracted a second glance at the gym I went to in England. A lot of people were impressed and intrigued with my "muscularity" which while being way above average hardly put me in the "jacked" category.

If you don't speak Chinese then you really must have at least one good Chinese friend who speaks English. I was lucky to meet my best friend here a week after I arrived, I can't count the number of ways in which he's benefited me. Chinese men in groups like to drink a lot, their favourite drink is this stuff called "baijo", it looks like vodka but it tastes very bad a leaves nasty aftertaste in one's mouth. The Chinese style is to down it in one go, even they don't seem to like the taste very much judging by their faces as they swallow it. Drunk Chinese men often get into fights, this has happened to my Chinese friend many times though I've never been present.

I have a girlfriend and 2 year old baby son whom I stay with every weekend, my girlfriend works at another school in a nearby city. Chinese people assume my girlfriend is Chinese but my son looks very different, with his large eyes, curly hair and thick, long eyelashes even longer than mine he doesn't look Asian at all despite being mixed. The attention that this little man gets is far beyond any other baby that I've ever seen. In department stores he gets mobbed by women getting right in his face, wherever I take him I keep overhearing "piao liang" (beautiful) over and over again, when I take him on the school campus a small crowd of girls gather around, one time I took him on a night out with us and all the girls there lined up to kiss him on the lips (I never should have allowed that). All this goes to show just how much Chinese women are enthralled by a cute, beautiful, exotic look. If he wasn't mine I would be jealous, but as it is I can live vicariously through him! :lol:
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Postby Seeker » Wed Sep 17, 2014 6:52 am

Overall, most foreigners would be happier in at least a medium to big city. The small cities (those with around a million people or less) don't have enough things there to keep one's interest. There's a big difference between my own small city and the my girlfriend's medium sized one. Where I am it's a challenge even to find decent bread, and the only places I can diet soda are the supermarkets, there are only 2 or 3 nightclubs in the entire city and they're usually empty after 1 am. In the other city you can't walk 5 minutes without seeing something new, and there are more nightspots in the vicinity of our home than there are in my entire city.

Your foreigner social circle will also be very limited in a small city because there will probably be less than 10 foreigners in the entire place. If you don't like to live in a very big city like the 1st tier ones there are a huge amount of 2nd or 3rd tier cities to choose from. Bear in mind that 2nd and 3rd tier status have nothing to do with a cities wealth and development, Suzhou and Wuxi are both 3rd tier and are some of the wealthiest cities in China.
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Postby zboy1 » Wed Sep 17, 2014 2:33 pm

All the things Seeker said about having at least one Chinese male friend--is spot on! It definitely helps, and it will make other Chinese people 'warm-up' to you better, because they see you are at least trying to make Chinese friends in China (not like most of the other, segregated and racist foreigners).

I'm in Shanghai right now, so if anyone is in the Shanghai area, let's meet up. I will write a trip report about a week or two after I've gotten the jist of the place (which usually takes about a few weeks).
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Postby hammanta » Wed Sep 17, 2014 3:30 pm

At the gym I worked out at I would get stared at while attempting a decent lift, I recall a time a few months ago when someone wanted to film while I was doing a 170 kg deadlift, which while a decent lift is nothing remarkable and never attracted a second glance at the gym I went to in England.


I've never been to China but I noticed this in the Philippines. Heavy lifting doesn't seem to be too big of a concept in Asia outside of olympic style. I remember benching 135kg with a spotter in one gym and everyone stopped and stared like I was superman. 135kg is still a decent bench but really nothing special for the states. Hell there are 17 year olds that can do that. There's guys that do 450-500lbs in my gym everyday. But it's still a pretty cool ego booster if at the least
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Postby KokujinKrusader » Wed Sep 17, 2014 4:17 pm

I got the same thing (to a lesser degree, I get the same here in the States too though), although I wasn't lifting as much being a smaller guy. I guess being a little guy putting up reasonable weight is an attention getter (and in the case of China, being the only foreigner at the gym).
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