Where do people even get shirts like this?
The Chinese says “My House”
The Tales of Hoffmann (Les contes d'Hoffmann) is an opéra fantastique by Jacques Offenbach. The French libretto was written by Jules Barbier, based on three short stories by E. T. A. Hoffmann, who is the protagonist of the story.
I’m pretty sure this was my first opera and probably my last. I was really confused the entire time and had a hard time understanding the translated subtitles. I was impressed that the actors/singers were able to memorize 3.5 hours of dialogue/songs and the set design was incredible. However, pretty sure opera isn’t my thing.
However, I was pretty excited to go inside the National Centre for the Performing Arts, which is super cool looking building surrounded by water.
After going on so many “bad” dates, it’s tough to get the willpower to go back out there. Sitting at home alone half-naked under my air con watching Netflix and eating Chinese Cheetos has started to sound a lot more appealing than going out to dinner on a date.
This is our first date
Her: So, you want kids?
Me: I’m not opposed to having them
Her: What about living in China the rest of your life?
Me: Definitely not
Her: So, you hate China?
Me: Not at all, I just don’t want to live here forever
Her: Then this isn’t going to work
Me: Sorry what?
Her: I need someone committed to me, and that means living in China forever
Me: Should we just get the bill now or…?
A typical WeChat conversation
Me: Hey any plans for the weekend?
Me: You’re going to sleep all weekend?
Her: Yes, so tired from work.
Me: Do you want to grab a drink or something?
Her: No, sorry, I’ll be sleeping
This is also a super common response from colleagues I work with. ‘Sleeping’ is often replaced by the word ‘resting,’ which for most Chinese means laying in bed playing around on their phone and not leaving their apartment all weekend.
We go to a nice Mexican restaurant around 6pm and both get food and drinks. We both get a substantial amount of food plus chips & salsa (which are not free in China) and no, she’s not fat. After we pay, this happens:
Her: I want a salad
Me: Why didn’t you order one?
Her: Well, I don’t want one from here, I want one from this little café I know
Me: You’re still hungry? I mean, I guess we could ride my scooter there
I just rode 12km to get to the Mexican place, and now I’m taking this girl 10km to some café because “they have the best salads.” We get there, she wants to sit on the rooftop, but their lights aren’t working, so we’re literally sitting the dark while she’s munching away on a salad and I’m drinking a beer. I’m not super excited to be in this situation. After she finishes her salad, she makes it abundantly clear that she wants to go home, so we walk outside.
Me: Well, that was super weird, but nice to see you! Are you going to get a Didi or take the subway home?
Her: You’re not going to drive me back to where we met?
Me: My battery is running low, plus I’d have to ride back here and I’ve gotta be getting home
Her: That’s so rude
Me: You chose this place
Her: Ya but it’s your responsibility to take me back
Me: I’m sorry?
Before the date, she explicitly told me she was a vegetarian and she’d only go out to dinner if I took her to a vegetarian restaurant, but not Indian. I love demanding girls, off to a great start.
Me: I don’t usually eat vegetarian, but I thought that was pretty great!
Me: You didn’t like it?
Her: It was terrible
Me: What didn’t you like about it?
Her: I just didn’t like it
We did get separate dishes, but we also shared pita bread and veggies with hummus. She also ate all of her food, so I’m a little confused at this point.
Me: My fault then, I’d never been here before but it has good reviews online. Next time we go out, you can take me to a place that you like
Her: There won’t be a next time
Her: Because you took me to the worst vegetarian restaurant I’ve ever been to
Me: Are you serious?
Her: You’re a bad restaurant chooser
I think I dodged a bullet on that one
You ever get so busy that you forget to update your blog? Ya, happened to me. I leave for Egypt on July 30, so expect lots of photos of me with my hands in the air surrounded by sand.
Here’s an article I just recently wrote for Expat Guides.
Since I broke up with my ex in October 2016, I’ve given the dating game in Beijing a shot and it’s been a whirlwind of funny/awkward situations, and moments where I can’t even think of how to respond. Here are some of the more “interesting” things that have happened while on a date
Her: Let’s grab dinner at 6 on Saturday
Me: Sounds good!
In the restaurant on Saturday
Me: I’m starving, you hungry?
Her: No, I ate an hour ago
Me: Umm, I thought we had dinner plans
Her: Ya, but I was hungry an hour ago and didn’t want to wait. It’s ok, I’ll watch you eat
Me: So, drinks on Friday?
Her: Ya, perfect.
At the bar
Me: I think I’ll grab a beer. You?
Her: Oh, actually, I don’t drink, but I am so hungry, I think I’ll get Pho
So I sit there, drinking beer, listening to her slurp up Pho while puffing on a vape every other bite and blowing it right across the table. Before I can even start to wonder how I get myself in these situations, she says:
Her: Do you want to buy a vape? I sell them, it’s my side business
Me: Thanks for the offer, but I’m all set
Her: No worries! Anyway, it’s so nice of you to buy me Pho
Me: Sorry, what gives you the impression that I’m buying your food?
Her: That’s how it works, guys always pay
I’ve gotta start vetting these girls better before agreeing to go out
Her: Oh my gosh, this mojito is so strong
Me: You can order something else if you want
Her: No, it’s ok, I’m just feeling like so drunk already
Me: Alright, well just don’t throw up on me
So we keep talking, and between stories she keeps commenting just how strong the drink is and how’s she feeling drunk and laughing a lot. This is her first drink, so I’m not concerned, but find it odd that she keeps talking about it. After we finish, we head down to the bar and the bartender says “Table 10, one beer and one non-alcoholic mojito”, at which point I turn to the girl and say “Sorry, what the fuck?”
She looks at me and shrugs: I thought you’d like me better if you thought I was drunk
“Don’t Do Scooters”
Me: Hey, so we can meet around 8 at the subway station and I can pick you up on my scooter and then ride to the restaurant
Her: Sounds great!
At the subway
Me: Hey hey, ready to go?
Her: Actually, do you know any places close to here? I don’t do scooters
Me: … I already made a reservation, I thought you said riding on a scooter would be fine
Her: Ya, but I don’t do scooters, too scary
Talking to Chinese girls on Tinder (which you need a VPN for) can be tricky, but there’s one thing for certain - they’ll ask you how tall you are
Her: How tall are you?
Her: Sorry, that’s not enough
Me: What do you prefer?
Me: Out of curiosity, how tall are you?
Me: If you want to date a giraffe, go to the zoo
Me: Hey I’m outside of the KFC where we agreed to meet. Where are you?
Her: I’m inside, hold on a second.
Her: Hey sorry, I was hungry so I got a bunch of stuff.
Me: We are literally headed to a restaurant right now
Her: Ya, but I wanted KFC
This was an event held by the Italian Chamber of Commerce and it did not disappoint. Meats, cheeses, wine, bread - it was perfect.
Had the opportunity to speak at Tsinghua’s 2019 graduation and farewell party. Lots of interesting speeches and congrats to all the grads!
Got asked to speak at Tsinghua’s 2019 graduation commencement on Tuesday, focusing on life in China after graduating.
Here are the 12 books I’ve read so far this year, along with a short review, to achieve one of my 2019 New Year Resolutions:
I’m T-minus 370 days until I leave China. Just renewed my work visa and it will expire June 10, 2020, and I don’t intend on getting a new one - it’s time to start a new adventure elsewhere.