Updates from China – the gym, the perfect woman, and getting some cash

I managed to go to the gym last night. It was fine until a group of Chinese men and a woman and six kids turned up. They treated the gym like a playground, yelling and chatting loudly and pounding on the machines. When I did my foot physio exercises in front of the mirror, they all surrounded me and watched. Then one of them started following me. Then they all did what I did. My each and every move. Suddenly, I was leading an exercise class.

I wanted them to go away, so I finished my sets and went to the weight machines and started doing some pull-downs. They came over and watched.

On a normal day, I might have been amused and lead them on a series of jumping jacks and push-ups. But after four days of being confined to a hotel for work, dealing with incompetent Chinese staff and having shit food, I really just wanted to be left alone thankyouverymuch.

The other night, I stood listening to this person who went on for about 20mins telling me how perfect her life is, how well-off her husband’s family is, how smart she is, how great her marriage is, etc. I’ve never heard anyone brag so much about their life. If there’s a reason to avoid work evening events, this is it. She was like some over-the-top TVB character, except that she’s real. At no point did she ask about me or the other person standing there. Might as well because I’m afraid I might have let slip: “Yeah, my life is kinda shit right now coz I have to listen to people like you.” I thought I was going to pour my glass of wine over my head. Maybe looking like Carrie might shock her into shutting up already.

I know I’m complaining a lot, but give me a break. I’ve been in work mode since I got here and I’m craving some real people to talk to. I actually enjoy being somewhere different, I like staying in fancy hotels (not having to clean and tidy up is a nice change), and I like knowing that all my expenses are paid for. Some of the workshops are useful, I’ve met lots of people I’ve been wanting to meet, and I’ve learnt a lot more of the ins and outs of the company. Even better news is, alcohol the past two nights have been free-flowing, and my boss and I won a plaque (good) and a cash award (awesome) for some stuff we did over the past few months, so I’m plotting on what I’ll spend it on. (A plane ticket comes to mind!) And we’re going home this arvo! Woohoo!

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11 thoughts on “Updates from China – the gym, the perfect woman, and getting some cash

    • To be honest, after the initial disappointment, I was actually quite glad I didn’t have access to Facebook. Now that I’m back in HK and can use it…..I kinda wish I can’t. ;)

      • well, i am in china now…i am totally surprised that i couldnt access to my yahoo mail, nor HK yahoo at all…but gmail is okay wor! this is so annoying -_-

  1. It’s funny, these social differences.
    There’s a difference sense of personal space / privacy. Hong Kongers are halfway between Westerners and Mainland Chinese. HK people will stand a little closer, or can be a little noisier, than “gweilos.” But, they will not stare and hover rudely.
    I also find a difference between big cities like Shanghai and the countryside. I prefer the countryside nosy people, as they seem genuinely curious, even if they don’t get basic etiquette. Whereas some city people are just obnoxious.
    I don’t get much attention since I’m Chinese — I’m not a fascinating foreign specimen like you are.
    I do get weirdly curious mainlanders in Hong Kong. Once I was eating streetside in LKF, and a bunch of tourists literally stepped up to my table to take photos. I take photos, too, when I travel, but I generally don’t get so close that my nose is in someone’s salad.
    I was shopping at Lane Crawford and some mainland guy came up, grabbed a shoe I was just about to try on, then threw it down again on the floor — not an “excuse me” or “could I look at that” to be heard. I don’t think he was buying it — it was a small woman’s shoe — he was just curious so he thought he’d just barge into my life, like the family who decided to turn your gym workout into a spectacle.

    Just curious — where was bragging lady from? For all the problems with manners, I find that the Chinese don’t usually brag — you know, there’s that whole Asian humility thing.

    • Yes. Personal space. I need lots of personal space. When I queue for buses, I hate it when the person behind me presses in close. A solution I’ve found for it is to leave a bigger-than-normal gap between you and the person in front of you, then stand and hold your ground. Then once the people behind you have stopped moving forward, take one step forward into the gap you created to distance yourself from the person behind you. Because the queue isn’t moving, they generally don’t step forward as well. Tada. My space. :) (Ok, I think I’ve just made that a lot more complicated than it actually is…)

      Funny that you call me a “foreign specimen”…..I’m not actually sure if you’re being sarcastic. Hahah. Just in case, fyi, I’m Hong Kong Chinese.

      Yeah, the guy you describe is classic. Also when you’re looking at stuff on a clothes rack, a woman will come up next to you, spot something of interest, and then push all the clothes on the rack towards you, squashing whatever it was you were looking at in the first place. ANNOYS THE HELL OUTTA ME.

    • The Perfect Woman, as I’ve taken to calling her now, is born HK Chinese, spent some time in the States (dunno how long), married American dude, now lives in S’pore. So you’re spot on with the American bit.

      Do Americans tend to do that?

  2. Dora,

    came across a few of these ‘lucky’ or ‘rich’ wives that either marry white or rich enough that they brag of what they have…what they did, what their taste are and critized other people…best solution is to listen and not reply unless necessary….regarding personal space…not moving in the line to keep the personal space is good…however, in China people will cut in front of you…keep adaquate space…but not enough for cuts…

    I found chinese (or even Asians) in general are noisier than most as a population…but within both hong kong and China I found those constantly gossip and looking at what I am doing….stopping what you are doing and wait a sec…they will get the point…another rule, don’t volunteer any information unless you wanted this information to spread… :)

    If you have to check facebook every other second, I think you are having the addiction :)
    stay cool…30+ C and 100% humidity definitely suck

    • Haha…I was definitely not talking about China when I said to leave a space in front to move into when in a queue. If that’s done in China, no doubt someone else will be moving into it instead of you!

      And I don’t check Facebook every other second. As a matter of fact, I do that with emails instead……which is probably not that much better.

  3. I was joking when I said exotic specimen. Otherwise, why would your routine gym workout be so very fascinating?
    Though, in Wuxi, maybe you really are a foreign specimen.
    When you travel in China, do people immediately pick you out as being non-Mainland Chinese?
    People can tell with me straight away.

  4. dora, same here…primarily email/phone only…being dragged into the facebook era….

    Joyce, I suspect they don’t know how to use the exercise machines

    People can easily tell where you are from by the clothes you wear, the way you speak, the way you walk, even the dialect…this is applicalbe in both China and in Hong Kong…

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