Posts Tagged With: Chinese American Culture

Celebrating New Years Away from Home: A Night of Music and Chinese Lesbians

After reading up on fieldwork methods that afternoon, I met with friends for dinner at a popular foreigner bar. We made new friends (one from Britain and the other from New Zealand) and both set off to Camel Bar for their New Years party. New Years is normally a holiday where I hang out with my family, and not a night where I go out on the town. I thought I would give this kind of celebrating a shot. We get to Camel Bar just in the nick of time (around 11:45pm). The band introduces the New Year by playing rock and bluegrass. The confetti feels like it fills the air, always falling. Couples kiss, bright lights twinkle, the floor is vibrating from the base, the group next to me throw their glasses into the air and cheer for the New Year: “gan bei!” “cheers!” I start to miss home. I remember this time last year my twin sister and I were playing the new Zelda game and beat it that night (I know, we are beyond cool). That was a good introduction to the new year, at least for me. Celebrating this time of the year with strangers feels a bit strange. I look into the crowd trying to find my friends. They are in the middle, listening to the music. I find them and wish them a happy new year.

My new British friend bought me a white Russian and from then on the night was filled with conversation. I listened about their adventures traveling for the past month, they were intrigued by my research, and I laughed at my friend’s jokes. I felt a bit better. The two people I was talking to decided to go dance. I stayed behind because I wanted to stay off my foot. I injured my toe the other day. While I relaxed on a bar stool, I noticed my friend flirting it up with two Chinese girls. I silently rooted for him and continued sipping at my white Russian. Suddenly, he looked back at me and said: “Hey, she thinks you’re cute.” I nearly spit out my drink. A young, pretty Chinese woman approaches me and says in Chinese: “Hello, I think you’re cute. My name is M.” She mentions that she finds my research interesting. My friend was playing the wingman for me…not sure if he even knew. My night took an unexpected turn.

I get to know more about her. She works for the subway development company that’s currently establishing Kunming’s first subway system. She says it’s busy and has long hours, but it’s good pay. We talked for about 20 minutes, then my British friend returned and persuaded me to join them dancing. I asked if M wanted to dance, but she simply smiled and refused. “We’ll talk later,” she said. After joining them on the dance floor, my friends decide to move to the party district, Kundu. I joined them, since it was closer to my apartment. I was getting tired and wanted to head back.

What I wasn’t expecting was that M was driving us. She showed us her car, a brand new, white SUV. We were surprised, what a nice car for someone so young! She must be rich. M’s friend escorts me to the front seat, but I said I can sit in the back. My friend with longer legs should be in the front. But she didn’t want to hear it, seemed like M really wanted to sit next to me. My friend whispers into my ear, “Looks like you’re the favorite.” I comfortably sit in the front seat and look back to find my two friends, a 40 year-old french man (where did he come from?), and M’s friend crammed in the back.

I have light conversation with M and then we arrive at the party district. It is alive with drunken Chinese filtering in and out of the club entrances. The club front walls were beaming with lights and busting out loud beats. I was too tired to even think about going into one of those. I politely excuse myself to flag a taxi. I heard later that M and her friend left soon after.

That was my first experience being hit on by a Chinese lesbian. I was very flattered, but also felt a bit bad on two accounts: one, not being attracted to her, and two, unintentionally “cock-blocking” my friend. In the end, Near Years Eve turned into a very eventful night. I enjoyed it.

Happy New Year everybody!

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Visiting My New Campus (Chenggong) and Celebrating Christmas Eve

This morning, I met my professor at the gate of Yunnan Nationalities University and then took an hour long bus ride to Chenggong city, where my classes will be next year. When we got off the bus, I felt like I entered a suburb in the arid parts of California. The buildings were new, as well as magnificent (Chinese and Western mixed architecture), and the foliage felt out of place and small. I forgot to take pictures while walking around campus. The large buildings were made of the same colors; brick red, blue, white, and charcoal black, and materials; tile, stone, and brick. The campus was large with so much space separating the buildings. While we walked to my advisor’s office, we passed through large outdoor halls that were desolate. This place was so big, but where were the students? I later found them outside of the dorm building.

My advisor had to attend a meeting, but two of her students escorted me around and showed me the Ethnic Minority Museum on campus. The top floor was a history of the school, as well as pictures of ALL the administration. In one of the dozen rooms, there was a large portrait of Chairman Mao with the Wa people of southern Yunnan province. One of the students mentioned that Chairman Mao admired the Wa for their beautiful dances. However, he confronted one of their traditional customs with an iron fist, that custom being the sacrificing of humans to the gods. He viewed this as backward and it contradicted his mission to develop the nation. He made that custom illegal and it still is to this day. I thought that story was interesting. I’ll have to ask Dr. Wu more about that later, her research focus is on the Wa people.

I met Dr. Wu after her meeting and we headed back to Kunming city. I planned to meet friends that night to have Christmas Eve dinner. We met up at Salvador’s (a popular Western bar and restaurant in Kunming) and had a feast of Western food: Spaghetti with pesto sauce (x2), Spaghetti with tomato sauce, Cheese Quesadilla, Tuna Quesadilla (leftover from another table), fried goat cheese sticks, nachos, and Belgium waffle with ice cream and maple syrup. Not like home, but it was a nice change from the spicy rice noodles and pickled vegetables that I’ve been eating lately.

From there, we heard of an epic snow fight that was happening in the city center. We decided to check it out and found ourselves in a crowd of youth that were shooting fake snow from aerosol-like cans at random bystanders and participants. At first it was fun…


Fake Snow Battle in City Center

but my friends and I are foreigners, we became prime targets. People would shout “laowai! (foreigner!) and  shoot fake snow foam at the back of our heads, but the most traumatizing part of the experience was when some young prankster would scream from somewhere around me “MERRY CHRISTMAS” (in a poor accent) and shot me right in the face and eyes. That’s when I decided, I needed to get out of the war zone. We had to run through the epicenter to find sanctuary at a hostel.

I was not expecting to celebrate Christmas Eve like this. When we got to the hostel, I looked from the balcony and watched the cacophony continue. People were laughing as they shot foam and hit people with balloon maces and others screamed by being attacked by a mob of young Chinese boys with puffy hairstyles. I suspect they don’t know what Christmas is about. Supposedly Kunming is especially unique in this aspect, very few cities have this kind of two-day Christmas celebration.

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Cross-Cultural: Celebrating Thanksgiving in Harbin

For Thanksgiving, CET organized a trip to go to Harbin’s top buffet. They said that the year before they had turkey! Unfortunately, there was no turkey, mashed potatoes, and cranberries this year, but I still ate to my heart’s content. They had foods from all of China’s regions (Taiwan, Guangdong, Sichuan, Northeast, etc.) , as well as international cuisine (Japanese, Korean, Western). I joked around with classmates and chatted with teachers. It was nice to take a break, and get to know my teachers out of the classroom.

High-class Buffet–Japanese Section

Western Section–Pierogis?

The Western section had fruit pizza (pineapple, mango) and sausage pizza, meatballs, pasta, and something that looked like pierogis. From the Western section, I mostly ate pizza. Most of my plate’s contents included Guangdong dimsum, fried shrimp, and all-you-can-eat Haagen Dazs icecream!

Mengnan Eating her First “Thanksgiving” Meal

All of our roommate’s tagged along to participate in our Thanksgiving dinner. They were curious to know what we did on this holiday. They thought we were joking that we just eat a TON of food, chat with family, and then go to sleep. At some point in the middle, we give thanks. Since we didn’t eat any traditional Thanksgiving cuisine, many of my classmates plan to make their own mashed potatoes…I’m going to make a pumpkin pie!

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CET Fieldtrip: Bowling

Bowling with CET Classmates and Chinese Roommates

CET organized a bowling event this weekend. We drank soda and bowled for two hours. I did not go over 100. I’ve gotten rusty! Besides everything being in Chinese, doesn’t it look just like a bowling alley in America?

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Cross-Cultural Exchange: Halloween Celebration

Happy Halloween!

My classmates and I carved our own mini pumpkins.

Nearing Halloween, none of my classmates organized an event. So, like what my Resident Director once said, “Once an RA, always an RA.” I sent out an email to everyone and organized a costume party and trick-or-treating event. It was a school night, so I made sure not to make the event too jammed-pack with Halloween goodness. My suite-mate bought three pumpkins (one for me, her, and another classmate). On Halloween, we carved them. I didn’t have time to carve a mouth on mine. See the really traditional one? A Chinese roommate carved it. His first carved pumpkin ever…he did so well! He won the pumpkin carving contest.

Me and Frida Kahlo (Elise)

Binder Full of Women (Ziiing!)

My roommate eating a caramel apple for the first time

The Chinese roommates really enjoyed the event. They laughed at all the costumes, helped us devour the plethora of candy, vote for best pumpkin and costume, and joined in when my classmates made an impromptu “scare house/dorm room.” I was really happy to give my classmates a little taste of home and give the Chinese roommates some understanding of American culture…even though it’s a bit strange!

My night in a nutshell

It may have been the best Halloween I’ve had in years…and it was out of the country! Good memories.

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Exploring Harbin: Shopping in Hongbo Underground Market

Since I lost my mitten in Inner Mongolia, my roommate and I decided to venture to the gigantic underground market that is Hongbo Square. It is an intricate underground mall (3 levels) with endless halls of clothing and random knick-knacks. Though I do not like to go shopping, I enjoyed the atmosphere: thousands of locals bartering with vendors for deals and couples window shopping. So, this is what average “Harbiners” do on the weekend.

Shopping in Downtown Market

Mengnan (my roommate) wearing ear mitts

A Piece of Home in the Underground Market

I’m surprised the shirt was spelled correctly! Are there such things as Minnesota Wildcats? I bought new gloves and spandex with fleece on the inside. I’ll be warm this winter!

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