What is the stupidest thing you've accidentally said in Chinese?
troubles with the tones
"'Qing gei wo mafan!' (please give me trouble) instead of 'mifan' (rice)—ouch, to my defense it was in the middle of the night and I had just spent two days on a plane."
"I told a guy that my girlfriend's vagina was broken ... miscommunication ... . I was referring to a pen."
"I asked a Chinese girl if the pen on the table was hers ... it turned out to be the wrong tone, and I don't know what I really asked; I guess something like 'cunt.' She refused to explain."
"I meant to say, 'You ask her,' but I said, 'You kiss her.'
"'Your calligraphy is very ugly' to a calligraphy master. ('Nan kan,' I thought, 'hard to read')."
"My name is Little flower. (was looking for the cleaning lady in the hotel)"
"My ex-girlfriend and I were getting dressed, and she asked me how she looked. I meant to tell her she was extremely 'piaoliang,' but what came out was 'Qingaide, ni shi feichang pianyi' ('Darling, you are extremely cheap'). It took the remainder of the night to convince her it was merely a mistake and of course she did not look cheap. After all, I was the one sleeping on a wooden mattress with a sleeping bag. It wasn't the last time my tongue got me into trouble."
Did you gain or lose weight since coming to China?
What's the cheesiest thing you can think of in Chengdu?
"Some of the foreign bars and the music they play"
"It has to be 国色天香 [Floraland]"
"The dresses the girls at Grandma's kitchen wear"
"Plug-in pictures and deities"
"The music in any big 'club'"
"The middle-class life and its love songs"
"Teddy-bear bouquets for Valentine's Day"
"The Scottish-themed singles bar"
"The gaudy decorations, such as scrunched-up gold fabric tacked onto walls and big bowties on the backs of chairs at banquet dinners"
What's your favorite word to say in Sichuanese?
瓜娃子 gua wa zi
不晓得bu xiao dei
Za go (as in zenme)!
"Te Boo Dong" I know that's not an accurate spelling; it's more or less phonetic I do know it means "I don't understand," and I use it daily.
"ga" which goes hand in hand with "o"
I don't know much Sichuanese—let's say I like to say "mapo tofu" since I love ordering this dish
xie xie ha! and ko yi
What is something you never understood—and maybe never will—about China?
"The Great Wall"
"Porch meat, ew. Not only are you going to eat nasty pork which is 90 percent fat, you will hang it on your porch, amidst the smog and particulate matter in the atmosphere for several days (or weeks) and then proceed to feed it to your family and friends."
"The rush to get on plane/train even though everyone has a reserved seat."
"Why is it so damned dirty despite constant cleaning, sweeping, rinsing, mopping?"
"Why anyone listens to the traffic ladies with the whistles."
"Why is no one buying oil for their bicycle brakes?"
"Horrible driving, stupid traffic code, dangerous cars and bikes and roads ... and there are still so many people."
"Why are KTVs so popular?"
"Why aren't there fitted bed sheets? (Actually, Ikea sells them.)"
If you weren't in Chengdu, where would you be and what would you be doing?
"Somewhere in China with a real job"
"Ontario, setting up a cancer clinic"
"Graduating college on time"
"I'd be on Mars, farming"
"Working in Hangzhou"
"Starting something in Beijing"
"Beijing, Shanghai, Paris, Tokyo to work or study"
"Trying to find another peaceful place on Earth to keep doing what I can do in a place like Chengdu, where, because you have less pressure to make a living, you can develop your own skills!"
"I would still be in Vegas, working as a personal trainer for entertainers"
How often do you go to McDonalds, KFC, or Dicos?
a scientific study
Once in 5 years 29%
Once a year 13%
Once a month 28%
Once a week 14%
"For junk food LePapa is more bang for the buck"
"mcdonalds twice in 6 years because kavian really wanted a cheeseburger"
"any time I want to go to the bathroom"
What collections have you started in Chengdu?
magazines and pretty notebooks • illegally imported CDs • broken toys • shoes • ex-boyfriends • glasses • my roommate and I have nearly 200 glass and plastic bottles • fliers and posters. I threw them in the trash recently • I'm collecting the whole Chengdu with my camera • restaurant Tupperware • tissue packets from different restaurants • fake '80s Transformers toys • stamps • I have a hundred kung fu shirts, does that count? • 城市画报 (newspaper) • just dust • history books • non-plastic shopping bags • the laowai´s favorite collection=DVDs • plastic bags • Taiji swords, only four so far though • name cards and fliers for prostitution hotlines, handed out by people outside hotels • 26" Forever bicycles
What's the best purchase you've made in Chengdu?
Caihong brand electric blanket ... 30 kuai and still going strong after five years and numerous moves • DVD collection • Meizu MP3 player • a free T-shirt • I traded a 5-mao army figurine for my friend's 18-kuai yo-yo • glasses • rice cooker • secondhand Mitsubishi mobile, five years of heavy use • actually, I've always been a sucker (冤大头) • coat made to measure for less than RMB150, very very warm and looks OK
How much did you pay for your last haircut, and did you like it?
Hairy folks who don't cut their hair in Chengdu: 11%
10 kuai or less: 14%
11 to 30: 46%
31 to 50: 2%
Suckers who paid more than 50: 14%
Satisfied customers: 50%
Unsatisfied customers: 50%
"I can't say I really liked it; I can only say it had to be done"
"I cut it myself. It wasn't very good."
"haven't gotten one yet"
"20 kuai ... the best in the world"
"I never dared to get my hair cut in Chengdu. I just let it grow till I get to Shanghai or HK, so about once or twice a year."
"Hell no. It was terrible, razored and fanned, long in the front, I just had told him to cut a little off evenly. I paid 13 kuai. My roommate wound up cutting my hair with paper scissors to make it look okay. She did a better job. Although I did like the scalp massage."
"1000yuan. not really."
"I usually paid 20yuan, but the last few haircuts were so bad (I have very curly hair and nobody here knows how to deal with natural curls) that I bought a trimmer and just buzz it down myself."
What are your favorite products or brands to buy in China?
528 • DVDs • Pride fags • Jiangnan clothes • Shanshui Records • Hongmei • Binghongcha • Shuirong100 • Meizu electronics • garlic-roasted peanuts • electric water kettles • Yoyo chicken feet • Yulin Chuanchuan Xiang • Zhongnanhai cigarettes • Penqiaoling petroleum jelly • Baijia pork-intestine noodles • Lao Chengdu beef jerky • Changhong • Lenovo • Avon • Huili shoes • White Rabbit milk candy • peppermint-scented "paomao" shaving cream • Louie Wang brandy • miscellaneous spicy tofu late at night • wasabi crackers • almonds • Ikea • tea eggs • E'mei Shan green tea • cell-phone charms • Qingdao beer • HIT music magazine • So Rock Magazine • Heimei mouthwash • Decathlon • Qingdao black beer • chocolate Ritz cookies • chocolate peanut-butter Oreos • Starbucks • green tea • Subway • Hai'er refrigerators • efong herbs • herbal booze • Chengshi Huabao • pearl products • silk • pirated DVDs • doufu gan • Coke in cans • the yogurt in the glass bottle and blue aluminum cap • I hate that big scary beef jerky guy, General Zhang or whatever ... I'll never eat his beef because he scares me away from it.
What's the next improvement you plan to make to your life?
"get a private Chinese tutor"
"paint my toenails dark red"
"help out with Chengdoo Magazine"
"I'd like to learn a foreign language"
"take a third semester of Chinese in September"
"I plan to start working out regularly again"
"continuing with the next stage of spreading authentic Chinese martial arts and medicine around the world"
"getting my research project funded for Qiang-specific relief projects north of Beichuan"
"I gotta go out more often during the week"
"if you tell me yours, i tell you mine, i wanna keep it kind of a secret. If i tell everyone, like normally, then it probably won't work!"
"delete my facebook account"
"grow my hair out"
"prepare for the CET-4 and an accountant's license exam"
"does losing weight count?"
What's your craziest taxi story?
"The driver was drunk and decided to show us that he could drive with no hands"
"The driver spoke really good English"
"The driver took a call from another driver, and then turned his head to me and asked which street in Chengdu has the most beauty parlors"
"Once my friend told our driver that he likes Tai Chi. The taxi immediately screeched to a halt, the driver ordered us out, and then proceeded to teach us a form he had made up himself. In the middle of the traffic. I guess he was pretty excited about it"
"The driver threw me out in the middle of the road after he got lost"
"This happened some time ago before I was single. I sat in a cab answering the usual questions (how long have you been here, do you work or study, where did you learn Chinese, etc.) when the driver asked if I had a boyfriend. When I said yes, he got really excited and told me I should marry in Chengdu and that he would drive me for free in his cab and get all his mates to put flowers on their cars and his—all that for free. By the end of the drive he had planned my whole wedding, completely having ignored that I told him I was too young to think about marriage."
This article was first published in CHENGDOO citylife Magazine, issue 21 ("questions")