Did they think i was famous?

Oct 15th, 2004, 01:13 PM
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Did they think i was famous?

I just returned from an 11 day trip to China (Beijing), Hong Kong, and in Thialand Bangkok.

Now, I didn't get any of this in Hong Kong or Bangkok, but in Beijing I was mauled by groups of young girls, constantly!

It first happened at the Great Wall, where 3 consecutive groups of teenagers (about 20 girls total) ran up to me screaming and asked to take their pictures with me. I had to pose for about 10 minutes with these girls...

Then, walking down the street near our hotel a group of Chinese women (I would assume grandmothers) asked to take my picture. This happened on 4 different occasions.

Now, people tell me all the time I look like Melissa Joan Heart (from Sabrina the Teenage Witch) and Tara Reid from American Pie, but do you think they thought I was someone famouse? Or was I just a novelty cause of my blonde hair?

In Costa Rica a couple of years ago I was asked for my autograph...

Eh, either way, it's fun!
lwinokur is offline  
Oct 15th, 2004, 02:43 PM
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We also came from HK and were asked for to take pictures with Chinese tourists. They did not speak English so we do not know the reason why they needed picture with us. I guess they d onot see Americans often.
emtravel is offline  
Oct 15th, 2004, 04:23 PM
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In many developing countries, the locals want to pose with Westerners. Just the way it is. I was told one time that if they are on holiday, it is to "prove" that is so.
Craig is offline  
Oct 16th, 2004, 05:23 AM
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My wife was once mobbed by schoolgirls in Cairo while I stood aside with the teachers. They said it was because of her blond hair, which all the girls wanted to touch!
NoFlyZone is offline  
Oct 16th, 2004, 08:05 AM
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We've had the same experience many times, the most recent being at the Taj Mahal. Our guide told us that people want to have their photos taken with Americans so they can show the pictures to their friends and family and boast that they have American friends. Raise their status?
scteach is offline  
Oct 16th, 2004, 08:53 AM
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Looks like a business opportunity, next time will set up a stand in Asian country in picturesque spot and will charge for it! Hm... What should I wear? Funny pack? Jeans? White sneakers? Baseball cap?
emtravel is offline  
Oct 16th, 2004, 09:13 AM
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Wow.. before you start setting up stalls or kiosk you should know that a lot of blonde Russian professional ladies charge $60 and they will do a lot more than take a picture with you in Bangkok;-)

Don't want the police to mistake any well intended Fodorites as something else!
Hanuman is offline  
Oct 16th, 2004, 10:58 AM
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hehe . Unfortunately I am not blonde and almost 50!
Need to think about other business.
emtravel is offline  
Oct 17th, 2004, 12:12 AM
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I also ran into the same in Beijing. In the Forbidden City, a guy came over to me and said something about taking a picture. I thought he wanted me to take a picture of him and his friend but it turned out that he wanted to take a picture of me and his friend. Another day while I was walking in a shopping mall I saw two girls and one of them had a camera. All of a sudden I was in the background of the picture and I tried to hurry up because I didn?t want to ruin their picture. But then all of a sudden the girls shifted position and once again I was in the background of the picture. So I went over to them and asked them if they wanted a picture of me and they said yes. So I ended up taking a picture with both of them But the question is: are western tourists still so rare that Chinese wants to take pictures of them?

gard is offline  
Oct 18th, 2004, 03:50 AM
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Happened to us in Beijing as well. We, too, thought they wanted us to take their picture, but they really wanted a picture with my 6"3" husband. We were there for the national holiday in October so lots of people in from the countryside sightseeing. Mainly elderly people wanted the pictures taken. My husband was quite popular.
Elainee is offline  
Oct 18th, 2004, 05:16 AM
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Western tourists are not rare in China, and they have been going there for 20 years. What's new is Chinese tourists to the popular spots. Many of them are from smaller, internal cities that Westerners don't go there, so for those people - but not the Beijingers or Shanghaiese - Westerners are their tourist attractions...
rkkwan is offline  
Oct 18th, 2004, 10:17 AM
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My 6' blonde husband attracted attention in Beijing about 10 years ago when we ventured away from tourist areas--our guide took us to her neighborhood as she did some shopping--great fun, but he did feel conspicuous.

About 5 years ago we were in Shanghai with my young niece with long curly red hair who was living there. People were snapping photos and following us on the Bund. At a garden in Suzhou a fellow with a videocamera with a number on the side (like a tv channel) literally ran backwards ahead of us to film her walking. My limited Chinese couldn't help me ask why they were doing this and she is quite shy and didn't like the attention (her Chinese was pretty good so she knew what they were saying but didn't want to talk with me about it). She told me she usually braided then hid her hair under a hat and inside her coat because strangers kept coming up to her and stroking her hair.
Kay2 is offline  
Nov 14th, 2004, 08:31 AM
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Friends and students of mine had the same type of experience in Japan a number of years ago. Annetta, who had long blond hair, and I were on a tour boat of some kind surrounded by Japanese pre-teens and young teens. They wanted to practice their English on us--using variations of phrases they'd obviously learned in English class--"How old are you?" and "How old is your mother?" Annetta got up and left rather abruptly after a short time. I thought that was odd and later asked her about it. She said she didn't mind so much when they would just touch her hair, but when they began pulling out the hairs, she decided it was time to leave.
Pegontheroad is offline  
Nov 14th, 2004, 12:09 PM
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On a recent visit to China we often became a tourist attraction in our own right. When we went to an acrobat performance in Beijing we found ourselves the only foreigners in the immediate vicinity and were quickly adopted by the people around us. One guy who spoke a little English gathered all the pertinent facts and passed them on to his friends, who it transpired were an out-of-town tour group. I might add that the performance was going on during this loud and lively conversation, but it didn't seem to bother anyone (certainly not the lady who chatted on her mobile at some length).

In a popular Chinese resort north of Dalian we made the mistake of wandering past an outdoor dance floor and were promptly kidnapped by a jolly tour group from Qingdao, all of whom (as quickly became clear) could dance much better than yours truly.

We found Chinese generally to be gregarious and curious about foreigners. Yes, there's an increasing number of foreign tourists around, but they're a drop in the ocean compared to domestic tourism, to say nothing of the country's 1.3 billion citizens, and almost everywhere you go you can walk a long way without seeing another westerner. I imagine that most Chinese have seen a 'laowai' only from a distance or on TV.

In my country 40% of the population is either overseas-born or has at least one parent born overseas, many are Asian and we come in all colours. China by comparison is dominated by one ethnic group and its history has traditionally been inward-looking. We have plenty of dark-haired people, they're notably short of blondes.

I doubt that Chinese people see proximity to a foreigner as raising their status. It just adds an element of exotica to the holiday snaps, a bit like me being photographed with a Buddhist monk, or a visitor to Australia holding a koala.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Nov 14th, 2004, 03:10 PM
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Just got back from India last night..Now it is not China, but my husband was continuously asked to have his picture taken with kids..On one particular instance, we were standing in front of a coffee shop in Jaipur, and a father came up to my husband and asked if his son could shake his hand..My husband was amazed..He almost felt famous!!In some of the more remote parts of India we visited, we were almost malled (nicely though)by kids.I have to say, we all felt like celebrities most of the trip..But who knows..Maybe you do look like someone famous!!
TracyB is offline  
Nov 14th, 2004, 08:47 PM
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Sorry, I didn't get back from India last night..It was last week!!
TracyB is offline  
Nov 15th, 2004, 07:52 AM
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In Johnson City, TN, I was asked if I was in the movie Karate Kid.

In Waycross, GA, I got more attention than the baby alligators the park rangers were showing.

In Indianola, MS, a woman and her friend discussed in my face if I were Chinese or Japanese.

I guess it happens everywhere. Why I was in all these "remote" places is another story.
ngodeia is offline  
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