Monday, May 28, 2012

A Glossary of Our Life in China

Below are just a few words or phrases that have become part of my vocabulary while here.  Some of them are real words or phrases, while others are just ones I hear frequently from other expats or Clif and I have found ourselves using. 

Ayi: Hired helped who may do the following tasks: clean, babysit, run errands, and cook.  Some people have Ayis 5-6 days a week all day.  These particular Ayis do it all.
Blue Sky Days: Literally what is says. I have never seen a blue sky day like back in the US, but there are days when the blue sky and a few fluffy clouds can be spotted.   
China Junk: The 4-5 spam texts I get every day. 
China Life: Reference to how day to day tasks are different or made more complicated here.  As an example I have previously posted, when I try to communicate with people who do not speak English.  They speak to me in Chinese, I speak to them in English, neither of us have a clue as to what the other wants and it ends with a stare off.
Have a "China day" or "China moment": A China day is a bad day. When nothing goes right and everything is a frustrating battle to accomplish seemingly simple tasks due to differences in culture.
Kan-Kan: The phrase you use to let venders know you are just looking, so they will stop trying to sell you things. Note: I have no idea if I spelled this correctly.
Pulled a Wang: Not what it sounds like, this is a daring driving move our driver (Mr. Wang) has perfected. He's a professional and pretty good at his job.
Saving Face: The common act of telling little white lies in order to avoid the fact that you don't actually know the answer and/or understand.  
Smells like China: This originally referred to any place with a distinct smell of sewage. It has evolved to be a good description of any place that smells bad.
Split Pants: Many Chinese toddlers and babies do not wear diapers.  Instead, their pants are split from front to back with just a bare bottom visible.  This allows them to go the bathroom anytime and anywhere they choose.  ANYWHERE. I am suspicious of every puddle I see. 
Tai Tai: It has multiple meanings. Most simply: a married women.  To others it means a wealthy married women who has time to sleep late, lunch with the ladies, and spend her husband's money.
They're Honey Badgers: in reference to the manner in which many people, at times, behave. This may make sense to only those who have seen the honey badger video.
Westerners' Price: The amount of money you are asked to pay for items or services merely because you are a Westerner. This is where negotiation skills come in handy, I am slowly developing mine.  I am becoming better at just walking away because one of two things will happen...1--You can probably find the item somewhere else and try again or 2--They will come after you suddenly willing to accept your offer.


  1. I had loads of fun reading this. I've been living in China a while too, I laughed at the sentiments I've also experienced, and laughed at the stuff I haven't but had fun reading either way.

    About the split pants issue, I kind of get why it's sort of environmental friendly, having to save on all those diapers, but sometimes people forget hygiene and decency. Once when I was in IKEA Beijing, I saw a grandmother letting her grandchild pee into the trash bin. Baby + diaper-less, sort of understandable. But on another occasion, I saw a parent letting her child pee on the side of the street, I don't see why a toddler can't wait to get to a public bathroom, there are lots around. But I guess, it's something you have to get used to.

    I don't trust puddles or anything wet on the street either. To me, it's either pee or spit. I try to wear closed shoes as much as possible, even in summer.


    1. Glad you enjoyed it. I am sure i could add few since being here a bit longer!