Monday, March 19, 2007

A few weeks ago, one of the engineers who works for me presented me with a red card covered in Chinese characters. I couldn't read it, but I was excited nonetheless; I realized I had been invited to my first Chinese wedding.

To be honest, I was a little suprised. I don't really know this guy and he hasn't worked for me for that long. At first I thought he invited me, hoping I would give a large cash gift. It is customary for everyone attending a wedding to give 200 RMB in a red evelope. 200, 600, 800, 2000, 6000, and 8000 etc. would also be acceptable, but since 200 RMB is 1/4 of what a factory worker makes in one month, most only give 200. Perhaps my staff member thought I would be able to afford a larger gift? After all, it is a well known fact in China that all foreigners are loaded walking wallets with gold bullion spilling out of our pockets as we walk. Seriously, they teach that in Chinese schools.

Later whilst talking to another staff member, David, I learned the real reason I was invited. He explained that there would be two parties; one for close friends and family and one in the evening for the factory workers. When I told David that I would only be able to one party, David replied that I should go to the first party with the close friends and family, because the bride's family would be very impressed that their new son-in-law was such good friends with a laowai.

Of course!! They don't want you there because of friendship or anything like that! They want you there to say, "Look, I have a laowai at my wedding, look how important I am!" This sentiment struck me as being similar to my previous company's view on me. I am convinced to this day that the only reason that theysent me to China was so the Chinese division could say,

"Hey Customer, look how much money we are spending on your account! We brought a foreign expert all the way from America because you are a very important customer to us and we are trying to save face from the s**t service we are actually providing to you. No, we are not actually going to listen to anything he says or impliment any of his suggestions, despite the fact that we have no idea what we are doing and he could help make us competent..."
Sigh... but I digress.

Anyway, once I had told my friends about it, Louise and Nick (no, not me... the Nick that's living with my girlfriend. Yes, I know...yes, we've heard the jokes) came up with the idea for a new business: They figured that some Chinese people would pay good money to have laowai come to their weddings, business meetings, birthday parties, etc to pretend to all of the other guests that they are best buds with the renter.

Think about it... you'd get paid to get trashed at Chinese weddings!! I know a few people in Yantai that would be well suited for the job. Jack "Chinese guys like to grind on me" Wagner (dude, they totally do when you're wearing a fur coat and you know it) alone would bring down the house at almost any Chinese party. He'd put the Chinese MC, who's job it is to "marry" the couple and then makes jokes at the grooms expense, out of a job!

Here is my proposed business plan, in detail:

Oh wait, no. No, that's not right... That's from the Underpants Gnomes episode of South Park. Well, back to the drawing board... I hope Louise or Nick have a better business plan. Oh, and I hereby claim all rights to the "rent a laowai" buisiness on behalf of Nick, Louise, and Nick.

The wedding was actually very fun and I am glad I was invited. The groom is a good guy, and I was very happy he allowed me to participate on such a happy day for him.

I.... can't.... take it anymore!!!

The waiting is killing me!!!!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Haha... Candy Month

Staff member: "I'm sorry, the engineer will not be able to work until April 1st."

Me: "Why?"

Staff member: "He will be on his candy month."

Me: "What?"

Staff member: "His candy month. You know, after his wedding."

Me (trying not to crack up): "Oh, you mean he will be on his honey moon."

Me: (chortle)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Pet Market

I've been meaning to put pictures of the pet market up for some time now. It is one of my favorite places in Yantai to go for a stroll, and there is also a plant market and antiques/art market.

Avian Flu, anyone?


Crazy storm

The first week I was back in Yantai, we had a crazy wind/ice storm. I tried to walk the 100 feet to the local shop near my apartment to buy some things, and I had to turn back because it was too strong.

I couldn't go to work the next day because the road along the ocean had been covered in debris, and our factory and one of the cars had been damaged by the wind. When I came to the factory later in the week, I saw that the wind had ripped the steel pilings that hold our car park roof right out of the concrete.

On Sunday, Louise and I went for a walk along the sea front in Yantai. Fargus, Josh, and Eli have been there, so they'll know where I mean... it was where we had our picture taken for the paper. Check out what the waves did! I'm amazed sometimes at the shear power that water can have.

Waterfront Walkway

Stairway to... nowhere?

Seafront Veranda - those blocks must each weigh > 1 ton

Eminem got his wish; Moby is dead

It's been a while...

Wow... I haven't posted anything in a long time (with the exception of my Hulk tirade below). Guess I should catch people up.

During Chinese New Year, I high-tailed it out of this country for a few weeks. I hadn't been home in one year, so it was great to get back to Good Ol' Philamadelphia. I love Philly and the surrounding area... sigh.

My parents at home just jumped ahead a few decades and went from plain old broadcast television to fiber optic tv with DVR. They also invested in a 40-something in Sony HD LCD, so I a large portion of my first week on the couch.

After one week of sitting on my ass eating great food; I think I had 4 Italian Hoagies that week as well as 2 or 3 Cheesesteak (whiz wit', baby), I finally decided it was time to do something. The next week was a whirlwind of activity, and before I knew it, I was sitting back here in Yantai screaming at Chinese suppliers.

I'll make a short summary of my trip in list for (I've had complaints that my blogs can be too long):

  • I went skiing at Blue Mountain
  • I went to Mardi Gras with my fraternity bros!!! (another post on that later)
  • I went the Phi Kappa Psi annual Cherry Alley at my alma mater, Lafayette
  • Partied it up in Morristown, The Jerz
  • Had a family b-day party at a local Japanese restaurant
  • Bought myself the Canon SLR Digital Rebel XT with gift certificates from the fam.
  • Bought myself a new iPod Shuffle (I use it constantly... battery life is amazing)
  • Bought loads of clothes
And yeah... now I'm back here. Such is life, I suppose.

To everyone I saw at home, it was great to see you guys. To my friends that I didn't get to see, or for that matter even talk to, I am sorry... after my time with my family, I didn't have much time left and I know I missed out on seeing people I really, really wanted to see. To my bros who went to Mardi Gras... you guys are awesome and crazy. Best three days I never ever with to repeat. To those who wanted to go... tough luck, Charles... it ruled. Ehh, who am I kidding... we'll probably be going again some year.

Seeing Green

Argh... stupid Chinese business practices make Nick ANGRY... Nick AnGrY.... Nick SMASH! Nick rampage like The Hulk and destroy Chinese supplier factory. Smash! SMASH!!!

Ahhh... Nick better now.