China, the new beginning

I’ve been in Canton, southern China, for almost a month now. As to cite Borat, there were good moments, bad moments and shitty moments.

But truth to be said, one good thing about China was people I meet.

When I first arrived in Shenzhen, I got a very friendly host. Masnita said I could stay as long as I needed.

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I was happy to finally settle down, have access to the kitchen, and start making some money. All the things I found over the internet about location independent job turned out not to work for me at all. All that creative writing and translating over the internet didn’t seem legit to me.

I started networking like crazy, which wasn’t too difficult, but was tired of repeating my story over and over again.

First story is about getting a suit here. I was convinced that I will need a suit in order to get a decent job, and also customized one for nightlife, with pockets for everything (phones, wallet, keys, gloves, and so on).

After doing my research, I found two places where I could get a suit. Well, in fact I could possibly get it cheaper in Hongkong, but going there 3 times or more was out of question. It wouldn’t be cheaper, given the commuting cost, second, I had 2 entires visa, which meant that I had one entry left, and third, it wouldn’t be worth the time.

So I went with my host to Luowu commercial city, 5th floor. Unfortunately, she didn’t speak a word of chinese, since she arrived only couple of months before.

The place was a disaster. On one side of the stairs they were sellers, who were selling stuff fake as hell. Wool super 180 with cashmere for around 100 USD. LOL. After trying couple of them I simply walked away. On the other side of the stairs guys were more sincere, saying that the basic wool (100) was costing around 250 USD. But they didn’t speak english at all.

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2013-05-08-2831-jpgWe still had a few hours to hit the CS meeting place, and decided to wander around.

It is clearly noticeable that this city was very recently built. For me this place is somehow alluring.

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We went to the chinese restaurant for locals, where we ordered some stuff.

Meal was around 3 USD, and didn’t get me full at all. We proceeded walking to another restaurant, where I ordered good looking (in the menu on the picture) pork chops. When it arrived, I realized it was cold and rather small. Another 4 USD. But it was delicious. Before I had a chance to finish my food, waiter came and demanded me to pay. I never saw it before and considered it quite rude, telling him to wait until I’m done. A minute later, someone else was sent to my table, pointing on the bill. This time I acted like I don’t understand, and their zero english wasn’t helping.  I finished the meal and ordered another one, since was still hungry, Chinese dumplings. For the third time they sent someone, this time he spoke that 5 words of english I got used to in Thailand “you have to pay now”, or at least this much I understood. Ok, whatever.

Finished my third meal and it was time to hit the meeting. We got there at 8.30 pm, ordering beer. It was a happy hour, and pint of beer cost mere 5 USD. Of course the cheapest beer.

I started to realize that the level of prices here is equal or higher than in western europe. Which in my situation was a very bad thing.

I spoke to the manager of the bar, asking what kind of discount our group can get, adding that we will be around 15 people (according to the recommendation of Masnita, my host).

He extended happy hour until 11, and said that we can keep talking in couple of weeks if indeed that many people will keep coming.

People started arriving ahead of the time, quite opposite than in many parts of the world, like South America or even Europe..  At 8.50 it was already 10 of us, and by 9.15 more than 20 people. I was networking hard, which I have to say makes me feel pretty tired, because of the high energy involved in multiple conversations repeating over and over my story and what I’m after. I met some russian guys who had a company importing textiles to Russia, an HR manager from a major entreprise, a guy who spoke the funniest spanish I heard in a long time, and invited me to take part in spanish movie and culture shows every tuesday.

I couldn’t care less about Spain, but in the sake of networking I exchanged numbers and promised to show up next Tuesday.

There was also a guy who claimed to be from Brazil, but he looked like eastern european, and spoke portuguese much worse than me. He was from Santa Catarina, Joinville. Well, when I came to Brazil to study portuguese, I heard that there are many immigrants who didn’t quite assimilate with language, and spoke portuguese only when had to go outside their community, so there was a slight chance he was one of them.

One of the most interesting personalities of the meeting was Jasmine, armenian girl who lived in Poland, Spain, and few more places before coming here. She spoke perfect polish and spanish, and was total fun to be around. She also liked me, and at some point acted like my personal representative, asking russian guys if I they needed to employ me. A big WOW!

There was also Fred, a guy from Puerto Rico, who had some business connections. He offered me to meet a guy who was running a major company to be some kind of a businees rep, who would be working just on the comission per sales made. We exchanged numbers, and I was going to contact him oncoming week.

Of course, the huge majority of foreigners here work as english teachers, which is an absolutely last thing in the world I want to do for living, but it’s also easiest here.

There were also a few girls who were down to fuck, but none of them was attractive enough.

I was messaging with Ricardo, the brazilian guy I met in the agency. I ended up meeting him in another bar after midnight, where I went with two girls, my host and Jasmine. It was a perfect situation, which showed that in spite of having just arrived I was already settled down. Girls stayed for a while, then left to the dance club. Ricardo was with a bigger group, his beautiful wife from Brazil, who didn’t speak a word of english, his relative who came to do business with him, and Luis, who looked as powerful as one could. His business card had his name (only Luis), and was saying Director. I liked its simplicity.

I was explained that Luis was here for 5 years already, and he was a kind of Ricardos’ godfather. And a very powerful man too. He handed me his business card, and left. So I stayed with remaining three.

We were drinking some hard liquor, and R confessed me that he came first for the first time two years ago to China, and due to some conflict with his partner with whom he was doing business, got abandoned. In that time he didn’t speak english to the point he didn’t know how to order water. Which wouldn’t be helpful anyways since no one here speaks english. Somehow via connections he came across Luis, who helped him like a father in hard times, and he remained grateful ever since. The alcohol was pouring, and the ambience was getting loose. The other guy – Caetano, who normally didn’t speak much, opened up. He was saying that he is in China exclusively for money, and he doesn’t like it at all. The food is bad, so is the weather, not to mention the completely strange culture. “I had so many oportunites to go to US, but I never did. You know why? Because Brazil is the best country in the world”. And States is not as profitable as it used to be.

Ricardo’s wife was getting drunk and asked me to order some reggaeton music, that I told her about. Unfortunately the band didn’t know Daddy Yankee or Wisin & Yandel. So we went for samba which she was dancing really gracefully. After some dances and more alcohol pouring in I excused myself, and went to clubbing. First, I entered back door to some club surrounded by bouncers wearing khaki, as if taken straight from the army. It was fun, but very loud and also full of cigarettes smoke. In front of it there were several groups of chinese girls fighting with each other. I never saw it in Asia before.

Went to several other clubs, but nothing interesting was going on. It was late, already after 2, and here things start and finish early.

I went to one more club, but they very politely showed me that I shouldn’t be wearing flip flops. I took a taxi home. I had scanned a street name in chinese, and driver after looking for 30 seconds nodded that he knows where that is. We arrived, it wasn’t too expensive – for less than 5 kilometers I ended up paying 4 USD. To my surprise to the final price I had to pay extra 0,5 USD, as driver showed me on the meter. It was strange but I paid anyways.

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