On looking odd in Beijing...

Old Oct 24th, 2003, 09:53 PM
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On looking odd in Beijing...

Hello All,
My partner and I are visiting Beijing for three days (on the way to Australia) next weekend.In researching this I've found various references to the interest Chinese people take in westerners and it mostly seems to be quite friendly and undaunting. However, I do look a bit strange- dreadlocks down to my waist and various piercings, so I suppose I'm concerned about how well this is going to go down. I get a fair amount of hostility at home (Scotland) for this so I can't even begin to imagine how I'll be percieved there-somewhere between fascination and absolute horror, I guess!
Despite what I look like- I'm actually a quite sensible academic in my mid-30s, but I cant find any information on whether the youngsters of Beijing have stated to get piercings and silly haircuts, so consequently can't judge how my image will be seen.Will immigration assume that I'm a drug smuggler or a political undesirable, or are they used to daft looking Westerners?
Any thoughts?
Aside from these small concerns I'm really looking forward to the trip, and many thanks to you all for the information posted here.

joolz is offline  
Old Oct 25th, 2003, 12:07 AM
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You're by no means the first, and immigration simply considers all foreigners dangerous and unreliable, but let's them in anyway. Most Chinese consider most foreigners to be odd-looking, and even in Beijing some have little restraint in commenting out loud, others even whispering behind their hands and pointing, or even catcalling ("Lao Wai!"). It's not necessary to have dreadlocks or piercings for this to occur.

In 1996 I travelled extensively in remote areas of Northwest China with a young Dane who fit your description exactly, and he was blond, too. Unlike him, I was able to understand the comments of passers-by, most of whom speculated, despite his goatee, on whether he was a male or female.

But foreigners are outlandish by definition, and, then as now, there's no need to fear any particular hostility. You're just even more likely to be giggled at than the rest of us. Even you've survived Scotland, then it should be water off a duck's back.

Peter N-H
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Old Oct 25th, 2003, 04:00 PM
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joolz, you look funny to the Chinese anyway, not because of your dreadlocks or your piercings, but because you have round eyes, instead of almond shaped eyes. LOL!

I believe you will meet with less hostility in China than in Scotland. Be prepared for a lot of giggling directed your way!
easytraveler is offline  
Old Oct 26th, 2003, 12:00 PM
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My husband and I are pretty standard looking white Americans and we were stared at everywhere we went in Beijing. One girl even asked if her mom could take her picture with me! ar ar
Old Oct 28th, 2003, 09:16 AM
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Joolz, we travelled to China this time last year. Our group of 17 included the choir director from a Presbyterian Church,mu 69 year old mother, a Pamela Anderson lookalike(with the addition of pink hair) a 5'11" girl with long dreadlocks, and my 13 year old son with a mohawk and a Clash patch on his jacket.

The curiosity of the Chinese was a part of the experience for us, especially as they tried to sneak up and have their photo taken with some of the more interesting people in our group.

All in all, if you have dreadlocks and piercings you are going to draw attention anywhere in the world. Keep in mind that the Chinese are naturally curious. It was not unusual for them to come right up to Molly and ask to touch her dreadlocks and smile and speak Chinese to her.

Have fun- we sure did!
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Old Oct 28th, 2003, 12:47 PM
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When I was in China a few years ago, I travelled with a group of 10 who included a black woman and a very obese teenage girl. Many people would point or snigger behind their hands, but there was never any hostility, only amusement and amazement. I don't even think the sniggering was meant to be vindictive, but a childish response to something that was dumbfounding.
ThinGorjus is offline  
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