"You know how every major city in the West has a China town? Well, I live in the opposite of that"
Yes, I hate to say it, but I am a resident of one of the many laowai ghettos that exist in the major cities all around China. Whenever my family or friends from home ask me about where I am living, I often have to answer with the above statement.
While I make many efforts to go and explore "Real China" as often as I can, I notice far too often that my friends and colleagues appear to be completely ignorant of their surroundings, and consider going to Starbucks to order their double-mocha-latte-something-or-other in English to be a genuine part of their Chinese experience. To assist these people (or anyone else in their situation) I have devised a surefire 25 point checklist to tell if you are not living in a section of "Real" China.
You might be in an Expat Enclave if:
- You give your fork back to get chopsticks
- You have no place to sate your craving for squid, starfish, or scorpion
- You have no desire to take a picture of any of the signs
- You have heard it pronounced “Nee Hey-oh”
- The Budweiser costs the same as Tsingtao
- There are more ads for Chinese Language schools than English ones
- Those Nike shoes, are actually Nike shoes
- The parks have 5 soccer games going on but only 1 Tai Chi group
- You start to ask Chinese people to take their picture
- You enjoy the coffee
- The toilets are inside the buildings
- You ask someone where the nearest bus stop is and they hail a taxi
- A sport other than ping-pong is playing on the TV (exception: Houston Rockets games)
- You get less than 5 strangers staring at you when you walk down the street (double if you have blonde hair and/or black skin)
- It's safe to cross the street
- You start to wonder where everyone is spitting, since it's clearly not on the sidewalk
- You wonder the same for using the toilet
- The pirated DVDs work
- You hear “I'll just have a pee jew” said a to a waiter on more than one occasion
- The locals can speak more than one European language
- There are multiple restaurants that sell good Western food (or Indian, or Thai, or....)
- The “No Smoking” Signs are frequently posted and adhered to
- The babies are only showing one pair of their cheeks
- Everybody knows your name
- None of the above seems strange to you
So if much of the above list applies to you, please, do yourself a favour and branch out, because you're probably missing out on a heck of a lot of this great country.