Discuss culture, living, traveling, relocating, dating or anything related to the Asian countries - China, The Philippines, Thailand, etc.
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Just got back to Taipei 2 days ago (Monday early afternoon). An old friend was in town for a wedding so I met up with him for drinks and dinner later that day.
His background: mid-30s Jewish American from Queens, Harvard BA / Wharton Lauder MBA/MA, worked 6 years in Tokyo, lived in Taipei for 2, and worked another 4 years in Shanghai up to the present, all for medical equipment company. Aside from English, speaks Japanese, Mandarin, Hebrew, and some Spanish. He's decent looking (kinda looks like Sasha Baron Cohen with light hair and no stash) and 186 cm. tall with slimmish build.
Some takeaways according to his observations:
- These days, younger people (up to late 20s) in Shanghai are on average taller than Taipei. He told me many guys were around his height or even taller and even some girls were close to his height.
- Girls in Shanghai aren't as attractive as girls in Taipei. They often have bad skin, typically have flat asses, and are not as curvy. Girls in Taipei have softer personalities, are cleaner, have more class, better values, and higher education. He specifically complained about lack of dental hygiene with some of the Shanghai girls he dated, a problem he never noticed in Taipei. He generally felt girls in Taipei are on average simpler, purer, and more trustworthy. He recently broke-up with a girl he was dating in Shangahai (from Suzhou) who was a chronic liar, often for things that made no sense. She also borrowed a total of 5,000 RMB (Chinese Yuan) which she never returned to him even though he asked for it back a few times. They had good chemistry so he tried very hard to solve the problem including joint counseling. But in the end, her suspect behavior continued so he cut his losses. He also mentioned a good friend of his who recently married a girl in Shanghai. Less than one month into the marriage, she told him he needed to buy a house and put it in her name. That was the end of that marriage! Generally speaking, he felt it is about as easy to meet women in Shanghai as in Taipei but the girls over there were a lot more practical, calculating, and seemed to often have ulterior motives.
- Shanghai is in some ways less developed and in other ways more developed than Taipei. Taipei is basically mature, not going anywhere, but fairly comfortable and middle class centric. On the other hand, Shanghai has a lot more poor and rich people. You see a lot of fancy cars and shops which cater to the uber wealthy. But the average wage is probably below 6,000 RMB a month (less than minimum wage in the US) while real estate is priced in the stratosphere. Shanghai also has a much bigger poor class than Taipei. But Shanghai continues to move forward fast so the feeling and buzz there is probably reminiscent of Taipei in the late 80s/early 90s before the local stock market and real estate bubbles crashed. People in Shanghai are striving to get rich, just like HK used to be so values have become very materialistic. Many people are very willing make huge quality of life sacrifices to make money and build wealth. And they are not averse to risk.
- He felt the selection of food, both Chinese and international is a lot better in Taipei than than Shanghai.
- Rents for standard housing are similar in both places. Like Taipei, its generally much cheaper to rent than buy in Shanghai (ie rental yields in both places are very low).
- He agrees with the general consensus on this forum that China will eventually surpass the US as world's largest economy. But he agrees with me that there are serious structural problems and it will likely hit some big bumps and maybe even a serious economic crisis or threat to the party's power, perhaps even a revolution on they way, which could sidetrack the growth process. Also, it will take a lot of time, decades not years.
- As for today, he feels the US is still a better country to live in and has higher quality standards across the board.
- He had decent dating success both in Tokyo and Manhattan. But China and Taiwan are generally even easier for him. We have a common friend (also Ivy Leaguer) who moved to Manhattan last year and has had absolutely no luck (just shoot downs and first date rejections). This friend is actually quite handsome (better looking than the friend I met with in Taipei) but is only about 5'6". So perhaps its better to be tall and decent looking than short and handsome, at least in Manhattan.
- His ideal woman would not be a local Chinese, Japanese, or even Taiwanese but rather a very international Asian girl, one who speaks very fluent English and has traveled around and lived in enough places so as not to be parochial or too stuck in any one cultural mindset. He would even seriously consider a Jewish girl (American or Israeli) so all his time in Asian does not seem to have infected him with yellow fever.
If anyone has any questions for this guy (esp. those considering moving to Shanghai or Tokyo), I would be happy to rely them to him via email and post his answers.
His observations about Shanghai women has historically always been true and right on the money. Ask any Chinese person about Shanghainese types and they'll all tell you they're bloodsuckers. Cantonese (HK) women don't have a much better rep. The sweet girls are either from the northern provinces or southwestern (Sichuan). It's amusing because my father who is now 81 has said similar things about Shanghai types, it was as true in his day as it is now apparently. It's like taking all the worst aspects of Chinese women and multiplying it.
The level of westernization and acculturation your friend is interested in might only be found in asian-american girls. But then when you date AA types you're essentially looking at american women who happen to be asian along with all the extreme baggage that entails.
Just curious but what was his opinion of Japanese women? It seems they have that middle class standard the most out of any of the countries he's been to.
I don't think it's necessarily Shanghai women that are bloodsuckers. It's more like any girl who was raised in a Tier1 Chinese city. Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou..... They are all out there for your money, especially if they are pretty.
With big city Chinese, it's a known fact that they need the finances for the house, car, etc before they get hitched. With foreigners who are fairly well off, it's more like a game of draw them in, get them to commit (marriage), then make the demands afterwords (since foreigners would balk straight off). Much like that good friend of your friend who married a Shanghai girl.
It's really not this bad outside of some of the major cities though. These more 'cosmopolitan' girls are giving all Chinese girls a bad rep. Don't get me wrong though. Money is still important, but for most Chinese girls, as long as you can provide a stable, decent income, that's good enough for most of them. In Chinese society, it is supposed to be the man who is the breadwinner, so it's a relatively reasonable requirement. When i met my wife in China, i was unemployed and relatively poor by US standards, although i had earning potential. It's not always about money.
BTW, Japanese women may play around when they're younger, but when it's time to get married, income is VERY VERY important. They won't require a house and car but they do want a man with a STABLE decent income and future. Stability seems to be very important for Japanese women nowadays. They also tend to retire from the workforce whenever they marry, so the man is typically the sole breadwinner. This is what seems to be typical in Japanese cities. No idea about outside the cities though.
Edit: I do have a cousin who married a Shanghai girl (family from the outskirts of Shanghai but raised in Shanghai). She's a pretty decent woman. I do have to admit that the first time i saw her (in the States), my first thought was "Oh Shit! High maintenance!". That was based on the way she dressed, acted, socialized, etc. She really hated life in the States. But she's adapted over time, and changed.
For me it's tough to say, as all the girls I know come from other places and were not raised in Shanghai. The Shanghai guys I know would surely agree with your friend. I only know one guy who is married, but he did have to get the house and car, and he said that. His car is awesome too!
Anyway, I am not worried. I have a great girl, she's not from Shanghai, but from a very far off tiny city. I met her in another far off small city and we're quite happy.
“b***y is so strong that there are dudes willing to blow themselves up for the highly unlikely possibility of b***y in another dimension." -- Joe Rogan
- Forgot to mention, one thing which is really compounding the wealth gap is the real estate bubble. Those who owned have become relatively rich. Most everyone else is fairly poor because they earn peanuts and have been priced out of the housing markets except for renting. This is not healthy.
- Currently my friend is dating a Taiwanese girl grew up in Singapore, has lived and worked around Asia, and traveled extensively. She seems to fit his spec pretty well even though she's never lived in the States. But he's only known her a few weeks.
- Yea, I've always read Shanghai was a wild and decadent place before the commi era. But during Mao's time, it was a political hotspot. Since Deng implemented his reforms, it seems to have reverted to its old-self, perhaps on steroids. I've never liked native Shanghai girls. With a few exceptions, they've generally rubbed me the wrong way. I can't stand the way they talk or their general temperament. In grad school, I remember one of my Taiwanese classmates telling me about a trip he and his friends took there during their college years. They picked-up some hot girls who really seemed to be into them and got them back to their room. But then, the girls started talking about getting paid - a real ego crush for naive kids like them.
- However, Shanghai may have improved in some ways as its become more international and diverse. There are people from all parts of China and other countries there now. So you can find girls (esp. the ones who have not been there too long) who may have different values. Moreover, there are some who are making a decent living and stable and satisfied. I think you can form more normal relationships with such types.
- When he was in Japan, he complained a lot about the local business culture which he felt slowed things down a lot. As for the girls, he told me he felt a lot of the hottest girls were only accessible to certain types of Japanese guys - the ones from the right schools and working in good positions at certain local corporations. But of course there's always that minority who are more open, international, or just different. He had good dating experiences with these as well as some foreign women (Asians from other countries) and he never complained about their hygiene or values. But all in all, it was harder to meet women there than in a place like Taiwan or Shanghai. In his own case, he equated the difficulty with Manhattan. Keep in mind, he was on an expat package which put him up in a deluxe Tokyo apartment and covered his rent (approx US$4,000 per month) so he did not look anything like your garden variety English teaching white guy.
- As an aside, he told me he had a couple of white MBA classmates who got hired into high-flying jobs at Samsung in Korea. Both ended up marrying hot and classy Korean girls and settling there for the long haul. We speculated that the right title at a firm like Samsung would open-up all kinds of social and relationship doors to a foreigner, that it would be significantly better even than being an expat there working for a leading foreign MNC. If you work as an executive at Samsung and speak fluent Korean, you are going to be perceived very differently than most foreigners by the people that count most.
Well, I prefer the personality types I've run into in Beijing over Shanghai. The best girls I've met have tended to be from Tier 2 cities, places like Qingdao, Changchun, Chengdu, and Chongqing. But I need to update my experience cus its already been a few years since I kicked-around much in China.
I really hate this concept of 'gotta have a house and car'. But I can live with it as long as those assets stay in my name and the house can be outside China. Keep in mind that if you own a property in China, get married, and subsequently divorced, the girl may be entitled to ownership of half the property even though technically speaking, its not community property (your brought it with you into the relationship). Do your legal homework before you consider marriage in China or anywhere else.
If Chinese home owners are taking equity out of their inflated home values to buy consumer goods then the bubble collapse will be extremely ugly.
It's pretty rare that I meet any Taiwanese out and about. Most of them are in the U.S. or Canada but studying abroad but i'd classify those people as asian-americans.
That may be true but he's pointing out extremely rare exceptions who manage to have the right combination of luck and opportunity to get placed that high in Korea. I'd say that they could have done equally as well in the U.S. because they are high flying soon to be corporate executive types. Most individuals looking for a life abroad won't have these avenues available to them..at least not without taking a lengthy return to business school and crossing their fingers at where they get placed in the future.
Also, these types of expat jobs are going to diminish in the future as more and more returnees that were educated abroad take up managerial positions in asian corporations. This already happened in HK to the lament of many expats who expected to live a lifetime there.
Well in Korea, its kind of an anomaly. Samsung and all Korean firms have traditionally been 100% local. But recently (about 15 years ago) they started a program of grooming some foreigners from leading global biz schools for high level positions. Basically trying to open up and be less insular by bringing in new blood to ultimately help the company in its international branding and marketing quest. I'm not really sure if these are really even expat jobs. Its quite possible that these foreigners are getting hired on equal terms as locals which means no housing allowance and probably a more modest starting salary. So these jobs are probably not the most popular with the bulk of MBAs who wanna sail into big name US/European investment banks and management consultancies and get paid big bucks from day one. Also, many are not prepared to become localized foreigners and settle long term in a place like Korea. But for those who have the inclination and guts to immerse themselves and re-locate, the longer term prospects and conditions can be fantastic. Not sure if any other Korean companies have followed this lead.
The traditional middle level expat job is a dying breed everywhere - the educated English (or other Euro language) speaking first world guys with minimal local cultural/language skills coming in on hugely inflated packages and bossing around poorly paid locals from more backward countries. The backward countries are no longer backward and have huge pools of local talent with superior language/cultural skills.
But, as the traditional expat opportunities have declined, they have been replaced by a new ones - local firms with a more international outlook which open some of their positions to foreigners on equal terms. A few examples - a lot of banking and finance jobs in places like Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Shanghai, Bangkok, Singapore, and of course HK at both local and MNC corporations are completely open to qualified foreigners who get hired on equal terms. Some of these jobs require local language skills, others don't. Many pay 6 figures US$, some even approach or reach 7 figures for the guys who do well and move up to star category. Similarly, the technology industries in Taiwan and Korea will hire qualified foreign engineers with enticing packages (virtually tax free stock options). Perhaps the best opportunities these days are for foreign entrepreneurs. Some of these guys struggle or go broke but others get rich in a few years. The friend mentioned in this thread just quit his very high paying job and is starting up his own firm in China with another partner. He already anticipates that the connected local market incumbent is going to throw all kinds of nasty stuff his way and is preparing for a good fight. He stands to lose his whole investment (over half his savings) for the chance to become very wealthy in just a few short years. I guess the risk loving culture of Shanghai rubs-off on visitors if they stay long enough.
Since the US is still the de facto leader in the world of VFX and animation, particularly 3D, this is one area where there is still great possibility overseas. I know quite a few guys with Hollywood experience who have achieved great positions in places like Singapore, Japan, China, Korea and even Malaysia. Some have even started their own firms or training centers.
Guys in these positions seem to be viewed very differently than the average foreigner.
“b***y is so strong that there are dudes willing to blow themselves up for the highly unlikely possibility of b***y in another dimension." -- Joe Rogan
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