Shanghai Shtories

Saw an old mate of mine yesterday. He’s been living in Shanghai for the last couple of years. Here’s some of what he had to say.

1. He works for a company that is at least officially located in Singapore. He doesn’t pay any taxes in China because of that and he doesn’t pay any taxes in Singapore because he lives in China. According to him, that’s perfectly legal.

2. The university he did an M.B.A. at was crap. The seminars were in English, but most lecturer’s English was rather limited, to put it politely. Not being Chinese is bad for your grades. Also, he got one grade level off because the introduction of his final thesis said that it dealt with the People’s Republic of China, but not Hongkong and Taiwan. Unwritable.

3. There are still lots of reruns of the Olympics on TV. They’re bloody proud, they are.

4. The Koreans have a name for the Chinese. It may be translated as “dirty people” or something similar.

5. They quit their first flat because of trouble with the landlady. Among other things, she broke into the flat when they weren’t around. Her pretext was of the see-thru variant.

6. They got their new flat because the landlords didn’t want Chinese tenants, all of whom, apparently, are cheats.

7. Officially, their new flat is 110 square metres large. Actually, it’s more like 70.

8. He tried to get 2000 from the cash vending machine. It gave him 500 and kept the card. His balance later showed he had withdrawn 2000. (He got his money back.)

9. With his 500 in hand, he turned around and said to the lady behind him that she shouldn’t use this machine because it had kept his card for no good reason. She went off to try another machine, came back and said the same thing had happened to her, so what was she going to do now, having to pay for her flight and all? They paid for a taxi to an hotel and a room for the night; she promised they’d get the money back the next day. So they went to the bank the next morning to talk things through and get her money so that she could repay them. Suddenly she was gone.

10. If you want something from a government official, you’d better have some money on you.

11.-16. Points similar to 5-10

17. Just in case you haven’t seen the pattern yet: You always have to be on the lookout because someone is trying to cheat you.

18. Why does he stay in China, then? One, you get used to it; two, the Japanese and Korean job markets are currently not looking so hot.

For a somewhat more nuanced view of China, see the various entries at the blog by Seth Roberts, who has recently moved there from the US.

Bonus: They recently vacationed in South Korea and, among other things, visited a theme park for young couples. On display: Giant statues of erect penises and naked women spreading their legs. Trust me, I’ve seen photos. Seems that the vision of the future Stanley Kubrick conveyed in Clockwork Orange came at least partially true in Korea.

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