Getting a Haircut in China

So true!



Getting a haircut in China, especially somewhere other than a major city, can be a strangely unsettling experience as a foreigner.

Unless you speak fluent Chinese, which the vast majority of foreigners don’t, it is virtually impossible to articulate what you actually want the stylist to do to your hair. It took me absolutely ages to learn how to say, “I want a haircut,” in Mandarin, which, when you think about it, is pretty damn obvious when you are standing in a hairdressing salon. It’s like going into a restaurant and saying “Get me some food.”

Once, a hairdresser flatly refused to cut my hair on the basis that he didn’t know how to cut a foreigner’s hair. I tried to explain that it was just hair, and all hair is basically the same, but my efforts were lost on him. Another time, on a university campus in Beijing, I…

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China Diaries: A Day In The Life

Courtney Livingston

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It snowed today! Trenton and I woke up to snow flurries falling from the sky. I walked out onto my balcony and saw white roof tops and the park in the distance drizzled with a spritz of snowy magic. Part of me wanted to spend the day snuggled up inside, away from the cold, but Trenton had some errands to run around the city so we bundled up and headed out.

We have pretty much gotten the lay of the land around our apartment. We have explored all around, tried all sorts of restaurants, joined the local gym, and even met some locals who speak a bit of English. But today, we stepped out of our newly formed comfort zone, and took a cab to the mall which was a fifteen minute drive away.

Trenton needed some new workout gear so we went to Decathlon, which is essentially a Chinese…

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The Snake Shop



Between 2007 and 2013 I was an English teacher in China. Now, I still receive lots of bizarre messages and have some quite random conversations with ex-students. This one, with a girl called Sarah from Changsha, Hunan Province, is of the most entertaining I’ve had in a long time. Not only is it a perfect example of a classic communication breakdown, but it highlights a few endlessly fascinating cultural nuances. If I sat down and tried, I couldn’t make this exchange up.

S: Hello Christ, long time no see!
M: Yes, long time. How are you?
S: I fine. And you?
M: Fine, thanks. What do you do now?
S: I have own business in Shenzhen.
M: Great! What kind of business is it?
S: Snakes. Sell snakes. Snake shop.
M: Cool! Do you have any photos?
S: Yes photos. But why?
M: It’s interesting.
S: Snakes interesting?
M: Yes!

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Beauty standards in China

Marta lives in China

The other day, when I was walking Nico in the morning, I saw a girl on her electric bike. She was wearing a bright plastic-looking jacket with long sleeves and the hood up, and black tights. Considering it was like 35 degrees (and only 9 a.m.), I pitied this girl. But, as we say in Spanish, to be beautiful you have to suffer! And this girl was just trying to keep her skin as pale as possible. Let’s talk about beauty standards in China!

Pale skin

Some Chinese have very white skins and others have darker complexions, but in general I’ve found them to tan quite easily. In Spain this would be a blessing, as we consider tanned skin to be pretty, but in China being tanned is the worst thing that can possibly happen to a girl (except being single, of course). Chinese people think tanned skin proves…

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The Ruins of the City of Shi Cheng, China.


underwater-ruins-shicheng-ancient-city-china(Images: Chinese National Geography via
In its article Underwater Wonders of the World, WebUrbanist wrote that “China’s submerged Lion City may be the most spectacular underwater ruins of the world, at least until more of Alexandria is explored.”
Known locally as Shi Cheng, the ancient city lies in 85-131 feet of water beneath Qiandao Lake (aka Thousand Island Lake).
But these images don’t represent some chance find by divers. The valley in which Shi Cheng is located was actually flooded in 1959 for the massive Xin’an River Dam construction.
Only in China, you might think!
But on the positive side, the sunken city, which covers an area roughly equivalent to 62 football fields, has become a serious tourist attraction.
Tour operators offer boat trips and weekend diving packages, and various concepts such as suspended floating tunnels have been submitted to allow more casual tourists to explore the ruins of…

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