Local Populace

Since I started this Chinese blog, I have described many of my thoughts on China and a few of my experiences, but I feel that I have not offered any helpful advice for people coming to china or living in China. Not to worry, the situation will be rectified.


Some of you may wonder how to entertain yourselves in China. I am not talking about Peiking Opera, Bars or Sight Seeing; I am referring to makingh yourself, and hopefully others, laugh. Here are a few of the games I like to play with the local Chinese populace. They tend to work even better in small towns, but in general Chinese people are extremely naïve about the laowei and so these should work most anywhere.

1. The Phrase Book: Take a typical phrase book and go into a Chinese store or just approach a local person on the street. My favorite are the medical emergencies but many work. Do as follows:

You: {go into a pharmacy} Excuse me sir/madam, could you help me please (in English)
Local: I don’t speak English, go away (in Chinese)
You: {take out the phrase book and point a sentence such as “How many of these do I take?}
Local: I don’t know how many if I do not know what you are taking! (in Chinese)
You: {point to the next sentence “These pills are way too big!!!”}
Local: {now the local is really putting some thought into it}
You: {Point to the sentence “OUCH!!!”}

While this may seeem juvenile and not that funny, I assure you, it is both.

2. The Photo: At any famous sight there will be Chinese people trying to take pictures of themselves and the such said sight. Go and stand right next to them in the picture, after about 30 seconds of them staring blankly at you, put your arm around the person. They die of laughter – literally – clean up bodies and move on.

3. Japan: Mix up Japan and China; tell Chinese people (it helps if you can speak Chinese) that China is a great country but it is a shame that they had to take their characters from the Japanese (the opposite is true), tell them there are so many great CHINESE companies like Toyota, Sony, Mitsubishi. The list does not end there but you get the idea. Whats funny about this is not that the Chinese people will find it funny – they won’t – it’s the hugely nationalistic reaction you will get as they try to explain that China is the greatest country in the world and Japan is a piece of shit. NOTE: This type of thing also works great with Taiwan and Tibet, especially saying they do not belong to imperialist China.

4. Taxis: When you are stuck in gridlock traffic, tell the taxi driver to hurry up. When he tells you he cannot, insist (best in Chinese), and tell him you have an important meeting. Threaten to switch cabs without paying.

5. One Child Policy: (best in Chinese) Insist that if twins are born one of the children is killed immediately due to the one child policy. Insist it is true and has been reported in the West but it is censored in China. Insist.

6. Miscommunication: If your Chinese is alright, substitute words. Go into a restaurant and demand to know if they have bitches (biaozi), the Chinese word for dumplings is also biaozi but with a different tone.

7. Insist you are not a foreigner, that the Chinese person talking to you is. Say you just look a little weird. Wo shi Zhonguo Ren, dan wo zhuang de hen guai. (I am Chinese, but I look very weird). Works great with kids.

8. When you see a large Chinese tour group with hats and a leader with a flag, don’t hesitate. If one or two people are “rebelling” and not wearing there hats, agressivly ask them why they are not wearing their hat and that they might get separated from the group and starve to death. You can also take the leaders flag and insist that everyone follow you off a cliff/bridge/dead-end street…

9. The list could go on forever, but I think you get the idea. Send any of your experiences to me as I am always looking for new ways to mess with my favorite peeps.

10. Last thing, yes, I am an asshole.

Published on October 4, 2005